Friday, August 26, 2005

Atlanta and Sword Fighting

So, I'm back in Atlanta. After being in Cincinnati, I've mixed feelings - on one hand, I missed being in Atlanta (which has been my home for the past few years), while on the other hand, I miss the fun and friends from Cincinnati. Either way, me and Lorenzo are now roommates and we moved into a nice house at a small Georgia Tech student community. I've a lot to post (including how I almost missed my flight, how my smashing new iPod Shuffle rocks and how life is rocking on), but that's for later. For now, you'll bear with me while I talk about swords (yes, swords). As some of you might know, I do a little bit of sword fighting, fencing and lately, Kendo. Of course, I've been interested in all kinds of sword fighting techniques - but Kendo has been a realization of sorts. For one, it's nothing like European sword fighting. Most European sword fighting is based on one simple precept - your opponent is a tincan of sorts, dressed from head to toe in good armour, and you would do anything and everything you can to put a dent or chop off body parts. Well, to be fair, that's not entirely true - the use of the rapier (like in fencing) is an artform and most singlehanded sword duels aren't necessarily for decapitating your opponent. However, double-handed swords (especially broadswords or sabres) are designed with the intent of swing-until-you-make-contact scenario in mind. Kendo on the other hand is quite different - while you do wear armour while practicing (or even during competitions), it's derived from Kenjitsu, which most definitely did not involve punching through tincans. Kendo quite effectively means, "The Way of The Sword" and there is a strong correlation between Kendo and Zen Buddhism, and there are several schools that perceive the way sword fighting should be. For instance, the Itto-Ryu school believes in a single cut that is all encompassing. There are other schools that teach you to achieve enlightenment through Kendo, and others that say that the Sword and the Warrior need to be (and end up as) one. So, Kendo is more a form of meditation, a martial art-form where you just practice until you get that one moment of concentration where you become on with your sword. I'm not saying that European forms are not so, merely that Kendo seems to have been formed with this particular intent in mind. It has been a life-changing experience, I'd strongly recommend anybody interested in sword-fighting to learn Kendo first, it builds discipline and character, and you learn to respect your sword a lot more. That done, quite recently, I got around buying a couple of good Kit Rae swords as well as a couple of bamboo Kendo swords. (Yes, bamboo - you don't really use real metal swords when you practice. Bokkens are excellent learning and practice tools). And interestingly enough, the Kit Rae swords are Luciendar, the Sword of Light and Kilgorin, the Sword of Darkness.

[Luciendar, Sword of Light]
[Kilgorin, Sword of Darkness]
I've also been eyeing Morthoseth, the Sword of Shadows. Some day, I hope to get myself a high-carbon live Katana, too - but that would not be until I'm proficient enough to earn it.