Japanese discussion of the art of iaijutsu and its supposed “unbeatability” has led to some interesting comparisons of Japanese swordsmanship to other martial arts.
The original discussion centred on the faintly ridiculous issue of the “unbeatability of the Japanese sword when attacked by a unarmed opponent,” although this was later succinctly dismissed with the observation that nobody in their right mind would attack a man with a sword barehanded in any case.
The martial art at issue is “iaijutsu” or “battōjutsu,” a subdiscipline of kenjutsu concerned exclusively with drawing a sword and striking in a single motion from any position.
Luckily, 2ch is packed with martial arts experts well equipped to discuss this sort of issue.
Some are sceptical:
“A spear would have him.”
“Certainly, it’s hard to tell when he drew. But wouldn’t the guys with their swords already out still have the advantage?”
“This is not really a practical technique for actual combat. Don’t believe the stuff in Rurouni Kenshin.”
“In real combat there is no referee or floor with springs in it either.”
“Useless unless you are sat opposite someone on a tatami floor – what if you are sat across a table, western style?”
“In any case you wouldn’t bring a katana to a meeting.”
“Who would challenge someone with a katana barehanded anyway?”
“Fencing is faster!”
“However you look at it, these sort of things are just performing arts.”
Some are not so sceptical:
“It’s so fast I couldn’t even see it!”
“I couldn’t even tell when he drew it the second time.”
“The Japanese sword is the most practical, western swords are heavy and unusable.” [see the previous discussion of this]
“Chinese techniques are full of unnecessary movements and are impractical as a result. In Japanese martial arts, the sword and soul are said to be one and stuff, but theirs are just about overdoing things.” [see the previous discussion of this]
“Can any weapon win against this?”
Unfortunately, somebody presented the video below:
Even this does not persuade adherents of the mystical cult of the katana however:
“Even if he got off a shot, the inertia of the draw would continue and he’d be cut down. If his arm were hacked off the sword would have the advantage too.”
More realistic observers are forced to admit the katana is in extreme difficulty:
“With a pistol the shooter will be out of range of the katana so the ‘sakki’ [the sense that someone is intent on killing] and stuff don’t matter.”
“They can draw and shoot in 200 milliseconds. A Japanese sword stands no chance.”
Fortunately for kenjutsu admirers, the legendary status of the katana is immune to mere bullets in a way actual practitioners are not.