POSITION PAPER ABSTRACTS GUELPH SCHOOL OF JAPANESE SWORD ARTS: 2005
Topic: "Martial Arts
East and West: a comparative discussion"
John Donohue, Ph.D.
Abstract Keiko: Transmission, Interpretation and Appropriation
Using the perspective of cultural anthropology, this presentation
examines the issue of how culturally "thick" endeavors such as the
martial arts are transplanted into other cultural settings. Making
specific parallels between religious ritual and martial practice, the
presentation will attempt to create a nuanced appreciation of the
cultural content of the martial arts as well as a sociological
perspective that views reinterpretation and appropriation as inevitable
by products of a living tradition.
Teaching methods for the use of hand weapons during the19th
century were remarkably similar in both Europe and Japan. This
paper analyzes Hungarian and Highland Broadsword by Maestro H. Angelo
(Angelo 1799) and its antecedents in the cutlass training of English
speaking navies, and the exercise known as Tachi Uchi no Kurai from the
Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu and Muso Shinden Ryu schools of Japanese
swordsmanship. The training methods from both the English
speaking tradition and the Japanese speaking tradition have several
common elements; chiefly that a more experienced swordsman leads a
partner through a series of hypothetical swordfights. These
hypothetical swordfights are then memorized and practiced until the
responses become automatic. These extended drills, called
“lessons” or “etudes” in early 19th century English and “kata” in
Japanese, formed the foundation of the training.
Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.
This paper looks at the Flos Duellatorum, a 14th century manual of
combat from Renaissance Italy, and considers several issues, including
the structural similarities between the Flos and current Japanese
martial arts practices, and whether a detailed manual like the Flos can
be effectively used to recreate the techniques illustrated as part of a
21st century “western” martial art.