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Motivation to study the art of Japanese sword can differ across all adepts. There are those who seek beauty and elegance of the kata (or „form“ in English), someone else might find intriguing the sportsmanship aspect, others want to deepen their knowledge of Japanese culture and history. All these goals are noble enough and worthy of pursuing. We wish to train ourselves with the cold weapons to the extent of its complete functionality in theoretical heat of battle. In accordance to this goal we are bound to implement some disciplines often forgotten in other schools of iai and kenjutsu. Even though we live in peaceful times where the studying of the Japanese sword is de facto academical, the philosophy of Hakuzan dojo is to ensure the true functionality of the sword. For example, if one cannot cut effectively with a sword then it makes swinging with a weapon just a dancing or a gymnastic lesson, which is out of zone of interest in the teachings our school. This is reason why beside the common drill of kihon and kata we practice cutting practice of tameshigiri. But even the mastery of cutting practice will not make one an effective swordsman or kenshi in Japanese.

In real-life battle situation arises new challenges. Suddenly there is a moving enemy (or enemies), who tries to hit you and in the same time try not to be hit himself. The principle of our training is then to get used to these kinds of situations in order to get the upper hand. The practice matches empirically showed that many adepts of iai and other Japanese sword-based martial arts could not fight with sword effectively. There arose the need for introducing the non-restraining form of free combat. This new form leads to the understanding of maai (measure), suki (exposure), seme (pressure on the enemy), hjoshi (rythm) and on the higher level even zanshin (concentration), fudoshin (equanimity) and other categories. With these practice duels, we have built the foundations of the gekiken 撃剣 training form, which applies techniques of our style into the heat of battle. The term gekiken was used historically across several fencing schools. The 撃 sign means attack or hit, the 剣 sign means sword. Literal translation of „clashing swords” holds the meaning of the free combat form. There are theories which states that gekiken is predecessor of a modern-day kendo.  In the old Japanese fencing schools there were times when severe injuries caused by wooden swords bokuto or dulled swords (hahiki) occurred. These could be also followed by death. To prevent devastating injuries of their adepts, the fencing schools implemented combat with cushioned bamboo swords, each school in its own way.

A saying goes that one can learn to fence just by fencing. On this basis was founded the traditional gekiken. Similar motivation brought gekiken into our dojo as well. In order to connect all techniques of our style, we rejected the techniques of kendo which differs in the kihon (basic techniques), be it, for example, different holding of a sword (tenouchi). We rather applied the kihon of our own school into the mode of two combatants. In fact, the holding of a sword with all other techniques of our school is identical in every form of our training, be it kata, tameshigiri or gekiken. That is why gekiken is harmonically interconnected with other disciplines which we practice. Moreover, bamboo sword shinai used in kendo is far different than a real weapon (shinken). For example, it is longer and the hasuji (blade alignment) is simulated in kendo with only a cord symbolizing the mune (back of the blade). Training sword for gekiken, so called gekikento 撃剣刀 has the length and shape of a real sword. It is not as flexible as the sword of the chambira discipline which allows to use real techniques such as parry, riposte and so on. Its cushioning allows its safe usage even without the safety armour (bogu) and opposed to the wooden sword it diminishes (even though not eliminates completely) the chance of causing an injury.

The difference between kendo and gekiken is also that in gekiken the viable target is the whole body. The match is point-based – who gets five points, wins the round and progresses to next round. Adversaries are chosen by lot. In case of simultaneous hit (aiuchi) in the same tempo both combatants get a point. If one hit was made one or more tempos earlier then the point goes to the faster combatant. The ideal clothing to wear on Taikai (tournament) is hakama and iaigi. Although other kinds of clothing can be accepted, too. Even though Gekiken was meant to be as a mean of training in Hakuzan dojo, we are welcoming and encouraging our friends from other schools of martial arts to join us in order to sharpen their own technique. Thus, the idea of musha shugjo (the spiritual path of a warrior by gaining experience from confrontation with other schools and styles) is being fulfilled. Adepts can potentially also apply the techniques of other martial arts systems including HEMA and kendo.

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