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YOU ARE NOT...a sword master!

by Steven Franz, Editor

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Recently I have spent some time watching videos of self proclaimed Sword Masters on youtube.com and am very upset, as well as appauled at what I have seen. Here stands this guy. He is swinging a katana around, throwing it up in the air and catching it and making some crazy motions...but he has no idea about what he is doing. Sure he has trained. Sure he is holding a sword. I am even sure he may have won a tournament or several...but that does not make you a master of the sword.

Authentic sword arts treat their Katana with much more respect than we are seeing today. Everyone from kids to adults do sword forms at tournaments I attend, yet few even hold...let alone draw the sword correctly. It is clear that movie style training has taken over what is a sacred and often lost art of real swordsmanship. This is a trend that is leading to the same thing in traditional martial arts dojo across the country today. If you do not offer classes that use flips, aerial kicks and gymnastics the kids go down the street to the ones that do. How can we, as authentic martial artists, educate the public that what they are seeing are not real martial arts at all?

Since I am a traditionalist by heart and by skill I would never do anything to disrespect my Sensei because he saw something in me, molded me and brought out my best. He is the reason I teach today...not because I want to but rather because of Giri. Wait! You do not know what Giri is? It is loyalty and honoring those who gave you your abilities and knowledge. It is by far the most important aspect of mastering the martial arts just like understand the deepest secrets of kata are. I feel bad that people do not understand what I do, what I love and will go right down the street to some place that throws swords in the air and spins them around twenty hundred times.

To all you modern so called sword masters. Sure you may handle the katana real pretty and make it look like you know what you are doing but please, by all means, come to my dojo and throw that puppy in the air so I can cut you into with my real katana. Wouldn't that wake a few people up? Luckily for me my training with the sword does not allow me to harm others but I would love to use my bokken against these wanna be masters any day of the week. Oh well just had to rant because this upset me...both use of the term master and the definitive disrespect of the soul of the katana.