Anyone still use an Iron Suburi?

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Oni no Tengu

Anyone still use an Iron Suburi?

Postby Oni no Tengu » Sun Jul 16, 2006 6:47 am

Even though everyone on this forum seems to have either a sword or bokken of some description, Do you use a Suburi (heavy practise sword), either wood or metal, for building up your arms and shoulders.

I've personally practised with one for years, and attribute a lot of my success with my sword training to practising early on with a heavy iron suburi.

Mine is about 4-5 feet long and weighs about 15lbs or so.

It was originally a huge crowbar, the kind that the council works use for digging up the road or providing extreme leverage to something.

I cut it down to suit my needs.
Initial practise with it, made my shoulders, arms and wrists ache like hell and feel as if they were on fire.

But once I'd got use to working with it, the pain gave way to a newly found strength in my muscles and eventually my normal sword training became very powerful, in that once you stop swinging a 15lb metal bar about and swing a 3-4lb sword, my cuts seemed to be faster and had more power.

Anyone else use one?
And what results did you experience from using it?

Oni no Tengu

Postby Oni no Tengu » Sun Jul 16, 2006 8:58 pm

11 views and no replies, is everyone so shy?

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Postby Lexxorcist » Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:17 pm

Scared more like. :| 8)
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Postby Moon » Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:42 pm

Oni no Tengu wrote:11 views and no replies, is everyone so shy?


Could be that nobody who has viewed so far is using or has used one,it's only just over 14 hours between your first and second posts. ;)
"Wise men speak because they have something to say: fools because they have to say something"...Plato

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Postby darksun_uk » Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:44 pm

sword sai are lighter than normal sai however the lack of an edge on a sai means that practice with it is not a perfect way to train in the use of a sword type simply for that reason, a similar rule would apply to other weapons (i would think) in so far as the heavier version of the weapon creates problems within the techniques used (i would think) so its frequent use i would imagine is not advisable a usefull training tool though for sure depends on the bounds of your training etc.

kind regards
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Oni no Tengu

Postby Oni no Tengu » Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:23 pm

darksun_uk wrote:sword sai are lighter than normal sai however the lack of an edge on a sai means that practice with it is not a perfect way to train in the use of a sword type simply for that reason, a similar rule would apply to other weapons (i would think) in so far as the heavier version of the weapon creates problems within the techniques used (i would think) so its frequent use i would imagine is not advisable a usefull training tool though for sure depends on the bounds of your training etc.

kind regards


I'm not sure I understand what you mean!

The Iron Suburi is not intended to be used as a Bokken, the purpose of the Iron Suburi is to practise the angles of attack, i.e. cutting angles.

The swinging of a heavy iron rod, which is basically what the iron suburi is, Is to build up the necessary muscles that you use when swinging a Katana or Ninja-to or in fact any other sword.

There are many ways to increase muscles strength, the use of an Iron suburi is just one.

If you get used to using one, thats weighs 15lb's or more, then you use a normal Katana, because of the lighter weight of the Katana, the swings are going to be a lot faster and stronger.

I have used an Iron Suburi for many years during my training sessions.

There does seem to be a lot of people on this forum (from what I've read) that have bought a Katana capable of being used for Tameshigiri, and have just used that sole item for their training, then expect to be able to cut tatame, just from using a katana, when that has been their only training implement.

Never underestimate the importance of the basics when it comes down to having proper cutting technique.

Maybe I should have asked, how many people meditate too?
Since that is just as important as any other thing that you will do whilst training.

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Postby Lexxorcist » Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:33 pm

Maybe this is a bad comparison to make, and I'm a bit tentative about posting here as I don't practice with swords, but for karate I've used small dumbells to practice punches, and ankle weights for kicks. Sais are actually used in karate for similar reasons. Is this a fair comparison to make?
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Postby sprout » Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:37 pm

I use an iron staff, and understand what your purpose is when training with a heavier weapon. the power, structure and so on needed to use a much heavier weapon greatly assists the technique when using the actual thing.
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wtf? wrote:like looking for mensa candidates in a jerry springer trailor park

don't click this link...

Oni no Tengu

Postby Oni no Tengu » Mon Jul 17, 2006 1:53 am

sprout wrote:I use an iron staff, and understand what your purpose is when training with a heavier weapon. the power, structure and so on needed to use a much heavier weapon greatly assists the technique when using the actual thing.


Exactly!
Although Lex was also correct too.

I've also used ankle and wrist weights when practising kicks and punches, because not only are the kicks/punches faster and more powerful after you take the weights off, But it also builds the muscles up that you use for kicks/punches and improves balance too.

I'll give you little background into my own training.

Due to work constraints and various other aspects, location of dojo's etc,
I've been training with both a Katana and Ninja-to for about 20 years or so, on and off.
I had stopped training about 5 years ago, due to a severe knee injury that happened after coming off a motorbike, this has since been agravated to such a degree as that most of my cartilage in my left knee is no longer there.

I do so much want to get back into training though, especially Iaido and tameshigiri.

Thats why I find myself on this forum, after a friend, who also does Iaido bought a Paul Chen Iaito sword from Blades-uk.

I started off originally about 25 yrs ago, learning about Japanese culture and the feudal times in Japan and eventually progressed into learning about the samurai and ninja and of the legends of japan.

A lot of my early training was taken from books and videos, some of it from books by Toshihiro Obata (naked blade) and various others, I also had some books by Stephen Hayes (the first american to train under Masaaki Hatsumi, (Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu).

Starting off as a 13 yr old kid, Like most other kids of that age, I spent ages playing with a broom handle, that I'd cut down to sword size, then later progressed to a bokken made of english oak that my father made in his workshop.
I even had a Karate GI and had my mum dye it black, then bought a pair of chinese slipper type trainers and spent ages playing in a local forest and hiding in trees, hiding in shadows etc.

It was all kid stuff really, a bit silly really, but made me want to go onto better things.

At 16, working away from home, I saw a Ninja-to (or what the films would have us believe a ninja-to would look like) in some shop for £50.

It was almost a weeks wages, but I bought it.

It was 440 stainless steel and very sharp.

Reading the books about Iaido and Kenjutsu, I realised that I should take things very slowly and learn the basics first, get them perfect and the advanced stuff would fall into place.

So I went to a local scrap dealer and bought the above mentioned Iron suburi (an old council crowbar thing, about 6 feet long) for £20.

I then went to a local garage and had them cut it down to about 4.5 foot long.

Living where I was, I had an enclosed back garden, and could go out there and swing either the suburi or Ninja-to, and not have anyone watching me, I thought this most important, since I wanted my training to remain secret and the thought of some poor, old granny seeing me and having a heart attack was'nt something I relished.

Anyway, I trained after work, for a few hours every evening.

I barely trained with the Ninja-to, since I was so afraid of losing fingers, if I drew it wrong.
Most of my early training was with the suburi and a bokken.

I also spent a few evening's in a local forest, meditating and training at night.

This was great, because I knew I was probably the only person out there, and it got me accustomed to training at night, and the meditation was a great way of relaxing.

I would sit crosslegged, and close my eyes, and concentrate entirely on my breathing, trying to breathe from the bottom of my lungs, making sure My breathing was as it had stated was the correct way to do it in one of my Ninjutsu books.

After a while, I would feel very relaxed, and was in perfect tune to my surroundings, I could hear animals moving about the forest, maybe only a few feet away, and felt at great peace with my self and with the earth.

It was and still is a great way to relax!

Anyway...I started to train with the Ninja-to, from what I'd read, lots of experts in kenjutsu and iaido had stated that learning to draw the sword from its scabbard or saya, was the hardest thing to do, since an incorrect draw could cut straight through the saya and slice into your hand.

I took this bit very slowly and all in all, I guess I practised this one thing for a few hundred hours, maybe more.

I then progressed to learning about the footwork and starting off stances, whether standing, sitting or kneeling etc.

I then learned about angles of attack, all the time doing this part of the training with both the suburi and Ninja-to, since the suburi was helping me
build my muscles, I also progressed to a little Chi Gung, one technique that I learned helped to build up my breathing and strengthen my shoulders, arms, wrists and fingers.

This technique, is a bit strange, in that once accomplished, you can feel real power flowing through you, its almost as if your body has an electric charge flowing through it.
I won't describe it here, because the description is quite long, but if anyone is interested, I'll post it again.

So anyway...moving on a few years, I managed to find a dojo in Connahs
Quay (deeside, nr chester) and the sensei was a Mr. David Evans, teaching Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu.

I did'nt really have any perconceptions about Ninjutsu, I knew it was'nt like all the media and film crap you see, but was like any other martial art, in that it needed years of training and dedication to get anything worthwhile outta it.

So I joined up, and spent about 11 months at the dojo, but unfortunately due to losing my job not much before that time, I had to move back to my parents and put my ninjutsu training on hold.

Unfortunately I did'nt get to see much sword training at the dojo, since a lot of that is reserved for dan grade students, since training with any sword either a sharp one or alu one can be dangerous, you can still be impaled on a blunt aluminium sword, just as well as a sharpened, forged one.

Anyway... My self training kept progressing after that, and I think I got quite good at the end, (5 yrs or so ago).

I currently have 2 swords, my old Ninja-to, which is extremely battered, due to my training with it in all weathers, rain and snow included, and my katana was a cheap thing a friend gave me, its 440 SS again and unsharpened but is fine for my iaido practise.

So now I see myself wanting to buy another sword, good enough for tameshigiri but not too expensive, £200 at most.
Just spent £1700 on building a new PC, so I'm almost skint.

But it would be nice to really get into my old training again, before my knee's give up on me completely.

Thanks for listening!

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Postby Lexxorcist » Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:21 am

Oni no Tengu wrote:So now I see myself wanting to buy another sword, good enough for tameshigiri but not too expensive, £200 at most.


In that price range you might want to look at the Paul Chen Practical range. The practical and practical plus katanas. £130 and £200 respectively (free postage)

http://www.blades-uk.com/view_items.php?cat_id=73

I have all the practical plus range, and I can vouch for the value for money. The cheaper practical one should do just as good a job, but doesn't have some of the trimmings. After your SS one, I can't see you being dissapointed by the £130 practical katana. I don't want to sound lecturous, but someone else will probably point this out anyway - SS swords are not functional. Best of luck, and it's good to hear you're back on your feet doing something you're clearly passionate about. :D
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Oni no Tengu

Postby Oni no Tengu » Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:55 am

Thanks!
My friend did point me towards the Paul chen PP, so I may consider one of those.
I'm also considering spending a little bit extra and going for the Cold steel katana.

I also realise that 440 SS is not suited to tameshigiri, but since it was the only sword I had, then it was the only one I had to make do with.

Its a little bit battered, very scratched, probably in need of desperate repair, the black cotton wrap on the handle has been replaced 6 times, having been worn out that much, its now covered in some white cloth, thats just been tightly bound around the handle.

The saya has also been repaired countless times.

The sword has been used for test cutting and has cut various materials, bamboo (of varying widths) and tatame.

I think the highlight of my test cutting was when I cut straight through a 4 inch fence post.
As a result the blade has a slight chip, about 4 inches from the end.

But considering it cost £50 about 22 years ago, then its certainly been value for money...lol!

Alas a straight ninja-to is not the best sword for proper cutting, since the curvature of the katana is more suited to test cutting.

But my sword and I have been through some good times.

I once did a training technique that I read in an old book, the technique required you to sit underneath a tree in Autumn, whilst you meditated silently below, upon the falling of a leaf from the branches, you were required to leap up, from a sitting stance and simultaneosly draw and cut the leaf with your sword.

The book stated that your sword should almost draw inself, and that you were a mere "voyeur" to its cutting, it was all very mystical, but being so wrapped up in all of the training, I did just as the book asked, and spent about 4 hours sitting under the tree, and cut maybe 6 leaves.

I know from a "western" point of view, this all sounds a bit silly, but I'm sure most of you can understand this to a certain degree, because when you draw your own swords from their scabbards, you must feel a sort of "joining" with the samurai of old japan, and what they felt when they trained or fought with their own swords.

The Katana is like no other bladed weapon on this planet, its history is seeped in "magic" and mystery, the real soul of the samurai.

It matters not, that these swords are not forged in Japan, what matters is your training with the sword, and the feeling inside of you when you do that training, I for one, feel very at peace with myself, when I train with my sword, like I have escaped to a higher plane of existence, and that only my sword and myself exist in the universe.

Does anyone else feel like this, or have I slowly been losing my mind over the last 22 years?

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Postby Lexxorcist » Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:40 am

You're not alone with your love of the katana and the history behind it. I love all that stuff too. You may be in a minority with your faith in a SS sword though. I didn't mention it to in any way criticise you for having used one, I was just trying to steer you away from buying another. The PK and PPK are both carbon steel, and differentiallly tempered so they have flexability while retaining a sharp edge. There are no truly professional katanas in your price range, but the practical range are functional and safe to swing around and use for some level of cutting. However they are not suitable for cutting through 4" fence posts.

As you've probably seen, the only real difference betwwen the PK and the PPK is you can remove the tsuka/hilt and tsuba/hand guard from the PPK, whereas on the PK it's fixed on. I don't think there's any difference in functionality, so if money's really tight the PK is a good choice. They need a little maintainance (wiping and oiling after use, or about once a fortnight when not in use). I think the blades are identical on both (not sure if the PPK is slightly more polished). If you buy one, you'll have something akin to a traditionally made samurai blade.

I'm not the katana expert around here by a long chalk, but everything you've said leads me to think one of the chen practical range is what you're after. If it's your first carbon steel kat, you'll probably (like me) actually enjoy cleaning and caring for it. It adds to the samurai-ness. :D
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Oni no Tengu

Postby Oni no Tengu » Mon Jul 17, 2006 5:51 am

I do realise that SS blades are not suited for cutting, especially 4 inch fence posts, even forged blades can be bent or even chipped whilst attempting that sort of cutting.

But like I said, it has been my only training sword for 20 years or so.

I don't intend to use my next one for anything but tatame mats and Iaido practise, and it will be well cared for this time.

The cutting of the post was to prove a point to a "friend" who mocked my training and said that the best swords in the world were the ones of the old english knights.

A proper katana does not even come in the same class as a sword of half inch thick, 5 foot long piece of steel that has a rough edge on it.

So after much goading, I gave in, and selected a 4 inch fence post as the cutting target.
The cut was very clean, cleaner than I thought it would be, and it took a small chip outta the blade, approx 4 inches from the end.

I'm not even sure I could do the same thing again, Although I'd have a go, with a proper Katana, if I ever needed to.

It reminded me of a story I read, in one of my old books.

The story is based in Japan.

A man and his girlfriend are out for a walk, where upon they are attacked by a tiger, the girl is fatally injured, and the man is stricken with grief over his loss.

So everyday after that he goes into the forest with his bow and arrows to hunt for the tiger, where upon one day he sees the tiger, asleep on the ground off into the distance, so he raises his bow and fires an arrow,
He sees the arrow hit the tiger and bury itself deep into the tigers side.

But on closer inspection, its not a tiger, but a rock with stripes on it.

Word gets round that this man is so good with a bow, that he can fire arrows into rocks.
But after several people ask him to repeat his amazing feat, he is unable to and each arrow bounces of off the rock.

This is because, such was his original grief and his thirst for vengeance on the tiger, that he was able to fire an arrow into a rock, but once his anger had calmed he was not able to.

It was the same as me and the post, I so wanted to prove my friend wrong and was actually angered by his thoughts that my training was a waste of time and that the katana was a useless sword, that I wished my hardest to prove him wrong.
And I did.
But after calming down, I realised what I had done, and thought I would not be able to perform the same thing again.

I'm still not sure, I have the presence of mind to repeat it, maybe I'll try again once my training is back underway, and I feel my skills are back upto scratch.

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Postby darksun_uk » Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:17 pm

Oni no Tengu wrote:I'm not sure I understand what you mean.


simply that a large blunt heavy version of a fast light and sharp weapon seems limited in its training potential that it obviouly has merits as a training tool was not my point i was merely stating that from a sai/sai sword perspective overcoming and reinterpreting the interchange between the two versions may present more problems on the whole than its positive aspects contributes. i would have to try a sai version however in order to provide an informed opinion from my limited perspective.

Oni no Tengu wrote: the ones of the old english knights.

A proper katana does not even come in the same class as a sword of half inch thick, 5 foot long piece of steel that has a rough edge on it.



im sorry are you serious....if so i suggest learning something about swords other than myths and hollywood fantasy.
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third sword in from the right is a 15th century english knights bastard sword (hand and a half) it is slightly lighter than any of the katana in the picture and just as sharp, end of discussion. all the swords in the picture are sharp carbon steel live blades.

kind regards
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Postby Moon » Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:31 pm

Oni no Tengu wrote:Maybe I should have asked, how many people meditate too?


Far more than those who claim to have cut through a 4" fence post with an old S/S Katana ....imho.
"Wise men speak because they have something to say: fools because they have to say something"...Plato


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