Collage of Nitō-ryū from a 1661 Denshō document

 

 

Frame-grabs from a private training video with my late mentor, Ishida Hiroaki shihan, teaching the fundamentals in Jūjidome (X-shaped/cross block) of Musashi's Niten Ichi-ryū.

At a surface level, the principle is simply to control Uchidachi's sword as they strike - applied situationally anywhere from Jōdan to Gedan with Uchidachi's sword on the exterior of the Nitō Jūji (cross). Ishida sensei called this seizing waza - Kani no Tsume (Crab's Pincers).

However, at a deeper level of principle, Ishida sensei taught that the riai (underlying rationale) of Kani no Tsume is not just about seizing the sword with both swords, rather one of the swords should seek to take the initiative by controlling Uchidachi's hand.

Scarcely known and rarely seen, another aspect of Musashi's Jūji technique is to control Uchidachi's sword on the interior of the crossed swords. From Chūdan no Kamae the swords mount or get on top and ride the mune of Uchidachi's sword, while continuing to maintain the direction of the tips towards the face.

Importantly, Ishida sensei taught within this waza that it's crucial to deflect Uchidachi's sword tip off the centreline when initially applying it. This above riai also conforms to the description of the Chūdan kata in Gorinnosho.*

Of course, when performing this Jūji riding, Uchidachi can forcibly return back along the same strike path to break through the Jūji, and in this regard Ishida sensei taught that Shidachi should just separate the crossed swords without resistance, and re-join (this waza is called Taka no Ha; Hawk's Wings) or potentially strike.

 

 

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* Note: Musashi's description in Gorinnosho for Chūdan does not correspond exactly to the outward execution and practice in present-day Santō-ha and Noda-ha schools of Niten Ichi-ryū: where Uchidachi's initial strike from Hassō merely cuts the air in between the two swords of Shidachi's Chūdan no Kamae and then withdraws back to Hassō unhindered.

Perhaps, this is due to the tendency to hide things within koryū transmissions or the emphasis evolved to be more spiritual and esoteric with a focus on Kizeme; which is what I was personally taught the initial sequence is about by Iwami Toshio Sōke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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