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Foreign
From Albania to Zaire, there's a whole world out there.
183

Blind man sword technique: Basis in reality or pretty choreography?
Topic by: roadwarrior
Posted: April 10, 2005 - 2:59 PM PDT
Last Reply: May 17, 2005 - 10:56 AM PDT

author topic: Blind man sword technique: Basis in reality or pretty choreography?
roadwarrior
post #1  on April 10, 2005 - 2:59 PM PDT  
I'm becoming increasingly enamored with Shintaro Katsu's Zatoichi (not only is he a samurai-busting bad-ass, but the girls all fall in love with him (and he's blind!!!), and I'm certain he (Katsu) actually sings the vocal accompaniment on some of the outro music!).

He (Ichi-san) stated in one movie that he is self-taught, but I can't believe that it's all natural ability and lightning-speed that dispatches all his adversaries. As opposed to the standard samurai opening stance and grip, he employs an (upside-down?) grip that points the tip of the blade to the ground (partly because that's how he draws the sword from his walking cane) and uses what appears to be a backhand wrist-flex technique.

Does anyone know if his technique/style has a legitimate name?

Thx,

~ Roadie.
hamano
post #2  on April 10, 2005 - 7:44 PM PDT  
I think it's just done for coolness effect, the way John Woo has his characters hold pistols sideways. I've only seen it in anime and some chanbara movies. I don't think it's ever been used in a "serious" samurai film.... as far as I can remember...
Eoliano
post #3  on April 10, 2005 - 8:47 PM PDT  
> I think it's just done for coolness effect, the way John Woo has his characters hold pistols sideways. I've only seen it in anime and some chanbara movies. I don't think it's ever been used in a "serious" samurai film.... as far as I can remember...

Me either, though this article says that his technique "is known as "reverse" sword drawing, sometimes called the Muraku style," and notes that Zatoichi and the Doomed Man is also known as Zatoichi's Reverse-Slash Style.
hamano
post #4  on April 10, 2005 - 9:15 PM PDT  
> On April 10, 2005 - 8:47 PM PDT Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Me either, though this article says that his technique "is known as "reverse" sword drawing, sometimes called the Muraku style

That would make it a form of Iai-nuki or Iai-do/Iai-jutsu... This is the art of unsheathing and striking an opponent in one movement, often ending up with the winner completing his movement by sheathing the sword. This differs from regular kendo/ken-jutsu where the opponents draw their swords and square off, often with the swords held up straight in front (to strike or parry) or held to one side, pointing down and back. As I recall, Kyuzo is practicing iai-nuki in his introductory duel in Seven Samurai.

Iai-nuki is not necessarily a form in which the sword is held pointing down and swung up or sideways, Zatoichi-style, although this might be an effective technique in iai-nuki. Apparently there are a large variety of styles and schools of iai-do/iai-nuki.
Eoliano
post #5  on April 10, 2005 - 9:47 PM PDT  
> That would make it a form of Iai-nuki or Iai-do/Iai-jutsu... This is the art of unsheathing and striking an opponent in one movement, often ending up with the winner completing his movement by sheathing the sword.

Well, that would make sense since Zatoichi usually vanquishes his opponent(s) with one strike and always is shown resheathing his sword after the fight.
jross3
post #6  on April 10, 2005 - 10:12 PM PDT  
In the game Way of the Samurai (the authoritive source on samurais and swords), swords held backwards (blade to the pinky-side of the hand rather than the thumb) are all ninja swords. It makes perfect sense for a blind man to know ninja techniques, doesn't it? I think Zatoichi is a ninja: his feeble blind-man gait, his ability to read more than just movement, and he knows all the secrets of gambling... yes, definately a ninja.
Shaky
post #7  on April 11, 2005 - 6:53 AM PDT  
> On April 10, 2005 - 9:15 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> That would make it a form of Iai-nuki or Iai-do/Iai-jutsu... This is the art of unsheathing and striking an opponent in one movement, often ending up with the winner completing his movement by sheathing the sword. > ---------------------------------

In fact, that's EXACTLY what it is, because in a few of the movies it comes up in the dialogue. One boss describes Ichi as a master of sword drawing from a seated position and asks for a demonstration. Ichi does a lot of these demonstrations, especially at gambling houses, where he draws and cuts something with lightning speed and resheaths his sword before anyone really understands what happened. In another film, he actually duels another master of this same kind of sword technique, and they both fight each other starting from a seated position, then drawing, striking and sheathing their swords in one fluid motion.

That wouldn't necessarily explain why he holds his sword the way he does during extended battles, except that it's just habit from drawing that way.

Also, I don't believe Ichi is entirely self-taught. I've seen all the (available) movies now, and they kind of run together in my mind, but I think I recall a story involving or mentioning Ichi's old sword master. Then again, over the entire length of the series, there are inconsistencies in the overall story. It could be that in the early movies he was self-taught, but later the writers decided to add an instructor for the sake of the story.
Eoliano
post #8  on April 11, 2005 - 8:02 AM PDT  
Okay fellas, check this out...

Select Iaido/What is Iaido..
roadwarrior
post #9  on April 11, 2005 - 9:30 AM PDT  
> On April 11, 2005 - 8:02 AM PDT Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Okay fellas, check this out...
>
> Select Iaido/What is Iaido..
> ---------------------------------


GC Forums brain-trust... where the answer to anything can be found...

(bows respectfully in turn to each sensei...)

Arrigatou.

Roadie.
Eoliano
post #10  on April 11, 2005 - 9:38 AM PDT  
> Arrigatou.

Douitashimashite!
Shaky
post #11  on April 11, 2005 - 10:25 AM PDT  
Hey, there's a dojo not far from where I live...
hamano
post #12  on April 11, 2005 - 1:30 PM PDT  
> On April 11, 2005 - 8:02 AM PDT Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Okay fellas, check this out...
>
> Select Iaido/What is Iaido..
> ---------------------------------


Even better, go HERE to see some demo movies! It's interesting how the promotional photo on the first page at this website has the model holding his sword Zatoichi-style, but the sword is held normally in all the demo Iai-nuki forms....
PGalloway1
post #13  on May 17, 2005 - 10:56 AM PDT  
> On April 11, 2005 - 6:53 AM PDT Shaky wrote:

> Also, I don't believe Ichi is entirely self-taught. I've seen all the (available) movies now, and they kind of run together in my mind, but I think I recall a story involving or mentioning Ichi's old sword master. Then again, over the entire length of the series, there are inconsistencies in the overall story. It could be that in the early movies he was self-taught, but later the writers decided to add an instructor for the sake of the story.
> ---------------------------------

In the third installment, New Tale of Zatoichi (Shin Zatoichi monogatari), we meet Ichi's sword sensei, Banno (Seizaburo Kawazu), whom we learn is in with the Mito Tengu. (Historically, this is the same group of loyalist rebels that staged the assassination in Samurai Assassin. They're also mentioned in Sword of Doom.)

So yeah, Ichi absolutely had a teacher, but it's his own preternatural abilities that overshadow any mere technique.

Read all about it in my book, Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook. Website: http://cyberpat.com/samurai

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