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Showing posts from June, 2018

Spear (Yari) - Making a Training Spear (Suyari)

Spear (Yari) in the Gendai Budo Nakamura Ryu 中村流 (Suyari)

One of the facets of some early Gendai Budo is their military nature.  Like later western sources they spell out the basics to enable simple teaching to larger groups.  In these arts, we find simple thrusts in the early kata.  We also find the asymmetric application of weapons and ‘wins’ on both sides. Nakamura Ryu 中村流 This style is essentially a batto-do being an offshoot of the Toyama Ryu however it includes a spear section, apparently based on Jukendo.  Like Jukendo/Tankendo there are asymmetric kata that have both sides knowing victory and defeat. Basic attacks.                             Cross-stepping.                         Retreating for distance. Sword attempting a bind at the weakness.           Sword levering up. Original demonstration from which these stills were taken:

Spear (Yari) Sidenotes - Grounding Against Cavalry & Fighting Bears

We can see in both Japanese and European sources the idea of putting the butt of the spear into the ground when facing cavalry. In Talhoffer’s Königsegg Fechtbuch the foot is wedged behind the spear.  It is interesting to note that in cultures that had interactions with bears the spear was often the weapon of choice (until firearms appear) and a typical tactic seems to be to do the same thing, wedging the butt of the spear in the ground. On a related interesting note, at least in Europe, bear spears often had a cross-piece to stop the bear running down the spear.  Could there be a correlation between bear-hunting cultures (or even boar-hunting cultures) and cross-pieces on polearms?  The 14th Century tapestry below shows a boar hunt with a cross-pieced spear.   Much more romantic to think of the reflection of the moon, but an interesting thought.

Spear (Yari) Sidenotes - Throwing & Thrusting Over the Forearm

The spear in most (non-primitive) cultures is designed for thrusting, not throwing.  It doesn't make much sense to throw away a spear in the middle of a battle.  Given the weight and metallic point, they are not comfortable throwing devices.  There is however pictorial advice on throwing the spear from European sources dealing with judicial duels (ie you only have one person to fight). In these sources, the spear can be seen resting over the forearm of the off hand.  The first image is from the Gladiatoria group from around 1430, the translation given as; Note the eighth play. Grab your spear for a powerful throw and decide whether you might hit him, to not throw your spear in vain. If he throws at you first, prepare to thrust your spear at him and see where you might hit him. Keep at this play as long as you can. A similar position can be seen in Talhoffer’s Königsegg Fechtbuch (again mid-1400’s), however, the right hand appears palm down indicating a thrust or push is to be used.

Spear (Yari) in Kukishin Ryu 九鬼神流 (Suyari)

There are many branches of this school, that shown below is 'Kukishinden Tenshin Hyoho'. Unusual stating carry.                 Attack early.                                 Feet together on the attack. Always back to distance.             Lose distance.                           Keeps spear central, deflect. Attack to the forward hand side.   Central deflection.                       They come on to the spear. Level change.                               Downward guard.                       Cross stepping. Attack to backward hand side.     Central deflection.                       They come on to the spear. Cross stepping backwards to keep distance and avoid attacks. Spear achieving a bind at the weakness and levering from the bind. Default slip of front leg. The demonstration from which these stills are taken:

Spear (Yari) in Tatsumi Ryu 立身流 (Suyari)

Tatsumi Ryu is a comprehensive system, mostly known for its sword and bo. Cross-stepping.                           Avoid and counter-thrust.           Beating down at weakness. Bind at weakness.                       Levering down.                           Trapping downwards. Levering up at the weakness. The demonstration from which these stills are taken: