March 28th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ukigumo-The fourth Hasagawa Eishin ryu kata

Ukigumo is the fourth Chuden(middle level) kata from Musoshinden ryu’s Hasagawa Eishin ryu. This kata is performed from the tatehiza sitting position and translates as ‘floating cloud’ or drifting cloud’.There are a number of different ways of performing this kata and a number of different explanations for the various moves. I will stick to the Kuroda Musoshinden ryu explanation where there is only one opponent present.

Begin standing facing the front with your left thumb securing the tsuba in place.(pic 1) Turn to your left and sit in tatehiza parting the hakamma as you kneel down. How you kneel depends on your school. In Kuroda style the feet stay together as you go down. First part the hakamma to your left and lower your left knee to the ground making sure that it angles outwards and not straight forwards like in Seitei Iaidos’ Tsuka-ate. Bring your right toes forwards in line with your left knee and part the hakamma to your right. Lower your body down and push your right knee out to the right. The left heel should be in the centre and your right foot should be flat. The sageo either remains in front , or is moved to the left as you lower your body down as in Seitei Iaido. (pic 2 with pic 3 showing the position from the front)

The person sitting to your right makes a move to grab your sword with his right hand(pic 4), however you forstall this action by stepping up to your left pulling the sword out of reach of your opponent(pic 5-this pic is out of sink as the left foot should be further forwards and the right hand should be on the hip.) Next you bring your sword round, as you step round with your left leg and strike the opponent with the handle of your sword.(pic 6) The knees should be bent and the weight should be on the outside edge of your left foot. This is a painfull position which is low and uncomfortable.(pic 7 shows one explanation where the left foot is used to stop the opponent rising-the right hand should be on the right hip.) How far the body is angled to the left depends on the teacher. Next the sword is turned and the weight is dropped , followed by drawing the sword and cutting to your right. The left hip should be pulled back with the cutting action being from the side and down, and the kisaki should be well above the habaki. To emphasize-this is an abdominal cut-not down onto the thighs! The saya is also pulled back.(pic 8 and 9)

Next, as you kneel down with your left knee now up and to your right, you push the sword through your enemy, aiding the cut with your left hand. The sword exits in a high position with the left hand still on the mune side of the blade. (pics 10, 11, and 12 show this smooth action) The feeling here should be of cutting as well as pushing-you are not just trying to push your enemy over !

The next move is to bring the sword to Jodan in a long sweeping action. This is done by first bringing the sword down to the left and then bringing it up to Jodan. The left hand only joins the tsuka at the last moment. (pic 13) Prior to bringing the sword down there is a large stamp with your left foot-this is usually shown as a method of pinning your opponents sword or arm to the ground so that he cannot defend himself ! Bring the sword down to the left side of your left knee to finish off your opponent.(pics 14 and 15)

The chiburi of this kata is a yoko-chiburi where theoretically the blood would be shaken off to the right. The kissaki should be lower than the tsuba and pointing in slightly covering the enemy in case he should recover. (pic 16) Noto begins by bringing the sword back and the saya forwards slightly, followed by bringing the sword forwards and the saya back. In Musoshinden ryu the blade remains horizontal during the first stage, turning a third of the way through the second stage. In Chuden the koiguchi meets the mune further down the sword than in Omori ryu in most dojo. In the final stage of noto you resheathe the blade as you kneel down slowly resheathing the blade whilst turning the saya clockwise back to the vertical. When completing this action the right foot is brought back, slightly past the left about a third of the way through the motion. As the tsuba meets the koiguchi so your buttocks meet your raised left heel and your raised right calf.(pic 17)Stand up by moving your right foot forwards and your left leg up. You should still exhibit zanshin/genshin. Pause and relax your right hand and move back to your starting position. Pic 18 shows the author inJapanearlier this year. In the next article I will look more at Chuden.

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