I'm just starting to learn the sword drawing patterns for 1st degree and wanted to know if there are many differences between our methods and the methods used in iaido. They seem similar on the surface and I have several books on the subject that I was hoping to use as reference while training at home. My other question was, is the sword worn edge up (like a katana) or edge down (like a tachi)?.
I have another sword related question. Do most people use a katana for hapkido? I have been reading a few books and articles about korean swordsmanship and it seems to be less rigid than japanese swordsmanship, at least in the length and shape of the sword. I have noticed that the Kuk Sool Won practitioners use a straight sword and wondered if it was unique to their art or if other korean arts use a variety of sword shapes. I have seen that Hanwei make a korean sword which has a straight edge (not the nicest sword i have seen), but guessed that most people use a katana due to the fact that they are easier to obtain (as far as swords go ). I was just curious on your thoughts or experience, swordsmanship seem to be an area of interest for you.
This is a difficult question to answer - on the one hand you are asking what do most people do and on the other you are asking what is historically correct? Korea's history before the Japanese occupation was very effectively disturbed by the Japanese. Korea's history since the end of the occupation has been a desperate struggle to re-establish a unique Korean identity. It is very difficult even for Koreans to know where Japanese culture ends and Korean culture begins. The Koreans say that most of what Japan has was given to them by the Koreans anyway. The Japanese say they refined what they we given and made it better. Difficult to know for sure.
However as far as I can tell from the 1600's to the 1800's the Japanese swords were different to those being used in Korea and China - some would say the Japanese swords were more refined, more effective, better made.
Keep in mind that even in Japan there was a huge variation in sizes, lengths, style etc even amongst samurai. The standard 'katana' is a modern phenomenon to make it easier to mass produce the swords for the non-discerning market. If a Korean master in the US hangs a Karate sign outside his Taekwondo school - how can we expect the public to understand the difference between Korean and Japanese swords.
If you are ever in Korea you should go to the war museum - they have a huge display of old Korean swords.
So I suppose in summary - the majority of what people do with swords today (even in Korea) uses Japanese style swords (like you said easy to get - easy to sell). However the feeling of a Korean sword art is different to a Japanese one. I have found Korean sword arts very practical - less hung up on protocol and decorative elements, less secretive about the important elements of the art. The way the art in Korean classes is taught I think is more human (just my opinion).
You will find sword schools that deliberately use "Korean" swords (straight, double edged) but it ends up looking like re-constituted Chinese sword techniques - different rhythm - different applications. For example Kuksul Won has a whole series of very Chinese looking sword forms that claim to be based on traditional Korean sword forms - may be true - why wouldn't traditional Korean stuff look Chinese?
I am not an expert on sword in any way - these are my impressions (with very little research) - I just like hitting people with sticks.
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