Hi, I've never taken any Japanese Sword Martial Arts, so I have absolutely no clue on how to suspend my Katana to the belt.
This is how I do my suspension.
I tie a belt around my waist and thrust the Katana to my left hip. I am having difficulties sheathing my Katana, as sometimes the Katana seemed too long to sheath. Am I doing something wrong or my arms are too short. (I'm 5"7')
So is there a way to better suspend the Katana for Iaido?
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Dao, I think it depends on the school of JSA. At my iaido dojo, we are taught to wear the sword at the left hip, almost horizontally with the tsuka-gashira (pommel) ends at the middle of the body if viewed from the front. The sword goes through the obi (belt) which is worn underneath the hakama. It should be rest on one of the himo (hakama straps) that helps to maintain the horizontal position.
On noto (resheathing): I am assuming your sword is not too long given your height, length of your arm etc. To start, you left hand moves up and wraps the tip of the saya (sheath) with the last three fingers. Your index finger and thumb should cover the koi-guchi (mouth) leaving just a slit. The important thing is you need to push the saya back and till it up to a almost vertical position as you lay the mune (spin) of your sword on your left hand. Drawing the sword outwards with your right hand, once the kissaki (tip) reaches your left thumb and index finger, your left hand will now take the active role of pushing the saya out to sheath the sword. It should be followed by the right hand's motion of pushing the sword into the saya until it is completely sheathed.
You can also look at the Japanese Sword Art 101 e-book by chopchop. Just go to SBG and follow the Sword Training link at the left navigation bar and down to the Japanese sword training section.
One more thing: once the sword is sheathed, move your left hand down a couple inches and straighten your left thumb to hold on to the tsuba (off the cutting line of the sword) for obvious safety reason.
Dao, I think it depends on the school of JSA. At my iaido dojo, we are taught to wear the sword at the left hip, almost horizontally with the tsuka-gashira (pommel) ends at the middle of the body if viewed from the front.
In my koryu, we are taught having the sword(while sheathed, in your obi) facing parrallel to your forward stance. So rather than off at an angle, the kashira is facing your opponent. I was informed this was because it hides the actual length of your weapon rather well. In alot of Jo kata we also face the tip of the Jo at our opponent as it hides the length to an unwise adversery, until it is too late.
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In my MJER that I practice its important to remember that the obi is tied around your middle so thats where your belt should be tied - just above your hipbone. Are you wearing the sword blade up? Thats the proper way of carrying it and might be the reason you struggle with drawing. Also keep in mind that while you are PUSHING the sword out of the saya, you should be pulling the saya backwards away from the sword and twsiting it to a 45 degree angle that also makes drawing a lot easier :-)
Hope that helps
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When you suspend your katana, the cutting eadge should face up. When you draw, you should catch the koiguchi (mouth) of saya with your left, make 90 degrees twist to the left (cutting edge now facing left) and draw. Same for sheathing.
Remember for the Japanese officers in WWII, they came up with methods for suspension on modern belts. but then again the gunto swords were shorter and hung vertically. There's an alternative I've seen for Toyama-ryu where they sew a diagonal sleeve onto a wide belt.
When you draw, you should catch the koiguchi (mouth) of saya with your left, make 90 degrees twist to the left (cutting edge now facing left) and draw. Same for sheathing.
Not necessarily. Whether your twist the saya to an angle during sayabiki depends on the intended cutting angle. For a vertical nukistske (single hand draw & cut) like morotetsuki and sanpogiri it should stay vertical. Whereas for mae it should be twisted 90 degree to horizontal. For soetetsuki it is turned 45 degree as the cut is diagonal.
On the angle during sheathing, it would depends on your dojo's Ryu. In MJER the angle is always vertical.