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Introduction to Tessen: A sensu is a Japanese fan used for a variety of purposes ranging from ceremonial to

practical. From the use of these fans, evolved the Tessen. Carrying a fan was commonplace, so a samurai desiring to have a weapon at hand that was hiding in plain site could easily carry a tessen. Tessen literally translates to iron fan. The fan was either an actual folding fan with iron ribs or a non -folding solid bar made of either iron or wood and shaped like a folded fan. Solid tessen, forged from iron or carved from hard wood to look like a closed fan, were more durable and less expensive to make. (Cunningham, p. 78) Larger folding tessen quickly became a symbol of authority, while the smaller folding and solid tessen were a common self-defense weapon for extraordinary situations. (p.78) Most commonly the tessen was used when a samurai was not otherwise armed such as times of leisure or while in situations when it was inappropriate to carry a sword due to etiquette. While the Samurai looked unarmed without his sword, he could easily defend himself with a tessen that appeared to be an ordinary object. When samurai were fully armed, a tessen was generally worn near the center of the obi with the sword worn on the left so a draw could be efficient.

Types of Tessen: Oldest military use of fans date back to the use of gunbei-uchiwa, solid metal device the looked
like an open fan. It was used to and signal battlefield troop movements. (p.95) As the tessen evolved in Japanese military and samurai culture, it developed three primary shapes. All were 10-12 inches long. The folding fan style was called a sensu-gata. The style used as a sensu (fan) in formal and artistic situations was called maiogi-gata. The style used for signaling and controlling troop movement in battle was called gunsen-gata. (p.80) Tessen which folded were referred to as menharigata. These consisted of outside metal ribs with inner wood or metal ribs covered in silk or washi (paper). Folding tessen were effective defensive weapons that could also be used as a regular hand fan. This type of tessen was the most expensive and difficult to maintain. As a result, some tessen (tenarashi-gata) were made of solid cast iron in a closed fan shape (p.83). Another solid tessen was the motsushaku, consisting of a piece of carved wood designed to look like a closed fan.

Why use a Tessen? It was considered unseemly for a samurai to use his sword against a lower -ranking rival.
On the other hand, tessen-jutsu was considered sophisticated, especially among higher ranking samurai. Many actually preferred to defend themselves with a tessen. (p. 100) Many samurai trained in the defensive use of a tessen and regularly carried on whenever their business or pleasure took them.. (p.101)

How to use a Tessen? It can be used to conceal waza or atemi or a tessen can be used more directly as a
weapon itself. It may be used open or closed as a blocking, stabbing and striking implement. In some cases, solid carved tessens consealed a daggar extening from below the carved end.

Kata with a Tessen: The use of fans in ceremony and ettique and the association of tessen with higher ranking
samuri results in a degree of formality when preforming tessen kata. It is preformed with a formal posture maintained with dignity throughout the kata; back straight, shoulders back, and knees slightly bent to allow movement the appears smooth and gliding on a single horizontal plane. All kata should be executed with mushin, the mind of no mind. This refers to the mental and spiritual state of automatic and precisely executed movement with the focus of being present in the moment.

TESSEN KATA NOTES Shodan Tessen Kata (last revised 3/2008) Formal Rei (Bow) and Entry to Kata: From the standing position, pass the tessen from your right hand to the left, holding the tessen with its base in the palm of your hand and the tip pointed downward. Kneel keeping your shoulders facing forward as your knees and torso bend to seza (formal kneeling position). Begin by kneeling with left knee, then with right. The right hand can be used to assist in managing the hakama so in the sitting position the uniform will be tidy in appearance. (Maintain a formal posture; back straight, shoulders back.) Once kneeling, let knees come out to the side more fully for a more solid base and formal appearance. Once seated, bring the tessen in front of you, base to your left, as you grasp it in both hands. Held horizontally at shoulder level, pause briefly; then place it in front of you with enough room left to bow properly between the tessen and your knees. (Tessen closed) Place right hand down followed by left. Keep your eye-line forward. Dont look down with your eyes as you bow, the eye-line is straight out. As your head drops, your eyes drop at the same rate. Bow to 45 degrees. This is a respectful but martial bow. (The idea of this kata is that you are a samurai in an environment where you have been invited and you are showing respect to your host. Then you are attacked by several others either to demonstrate your ability to defend yourself and your potential retainer, or because you were set up. Even if it is a set up, the samurai code would require that you do combat with dignity.) After the bow, come back to resting position straight up. There is a breath of a pause. Shift forward as you begin to stand, grasping the tessen with your left hand, bringing it to your waist as you stand. (Stand in the reverse of how you knelt.) Using your right hand to slightly pull forward the belt, place the tessen in your left side waistband with your left hand. The closed tessen is placed with hilt down, tips up. Do not look at your belt as you do this. The eyeline is forward; out to the oncoming attack. From the standing position, irimi forward with the left foot at 45 degrees out and to the left. Shuffle your right leg behind so it catches up maintaining a shoulders width distance. Then tenkan around with your right foot so you are facing 180 degrees from the starting position. Step back with your left foot so you are standing in R hanmi. Draw the tessen with your right hand by reaching under your belt height with the hand so the web of the hand grasps the tessen spine. Withdraw the tessen upward arcing toward the outside, then reverse the arc bringing the tessen (still closed) down and inside, pointing so it is an extension of the arm with your right arm in line with the right (forward) leg. The tip of the tessen should be pointing just in front of your right foot. Roll the hand over as you move, so the base of the tessen lays firmly in the palm of the hand with the back of your hand facing out. Complete this as one smooth motion. This is the stance that you will return to throughout the kata and will be referred to as the ready stance for the rest of these notes. For the rest of the kata notes, an uke will be pictures in illustrations to assist in proper understanding of the movements, strikes, throws, etc. Notes: To open a tessen, place your thumb on the front flat spine, letting your fingers wrap around the rest of the spines. While continuing to pinch the first spine between your thumb and index finger, release the rest of the spines by opening your hand, letting go of the tessen with your other fingers. Flick your wrist down and then suddenly up, to propel the tessen open rapidly and completely. Attack #1: Open hand shomenuchi with the ukes right hand From the ready stance, irimi in with the left foot at 45 degrees to avoid the attack, bringing up the tessen with the right hand (tessen closed) striking at the attackers forearm, just below the elbow. (As you execute the above, tenkan a full tenkan with the right foot.) As you move, your left hand glides along the ukes arm ultimately grasping the ukes hand on the thumb side. As you tenkan, you and the uke will end up faced the same direction, shoulder to shoulder with you in left hanmi. Open the tessen in your right hand. Then rotate both your right and left hands inward rolling over your wrists (so your palm is faced upward in inward). As you do this the tessen will end up rotated 180 degrees horizontally. The ukes hand will now be positioned for a one-handed kotegaeshi. Use the tessen opening to obscure the wrist lock and distract the uke. Now irimi with your right leg, tenkan with the left leg so the uke is moving back to your left as the defense is executed. The body dynamic of motion will result in the kotegaeshi throw. The tessen stays open. Bunki Note: The maai or distancing of the attack is ideally he same for bunki and kata. In reality adjustments must be made for the actual uke used in bunki. If needed, the knuckles of the hand holding the tessen (the back of that hand) can come in and assist the left hand in controlling the ukes wrist for the kotegaeshi. Remember the throw

itself is a result of the left tenkan body motion, not arm or bicep strength. In Bunki more movement must be created, so there is a slight rightward movement before reversing direction left for the throw. As the end of the tenkan, the throw is complete with your hip fully turned with the body dynamic consistent with how you would be if the throw was actually executed. At this point, you are faced 180 degrees from the starting point of this attack. Now, with feet remaining in place, reverse direction, pivoting with hips to face 180 degrees from the present position. (Keep knees slightly bent to maintain balance.) Once turned, the tessen remains open, fanning as if cooling yourself. Your free left hand goes to your left hip. Although the eye-line is straight ahead, you should be scanning the surroundings with your peripheral vision. Step forward with your right foot, then your left. As the next step is taken, tenkan around with your left, leaving you in right hanmi. Snap the tessen closed, bringing it in an arc down to the inside, pointing it along your right foot, returning to the ready stance. Attack #2: Shomenuchi with a sword Irimi out of the way with the left foot, moving forward out f the way of the attack, (irimi to your left at 45 degrees). As you move, the closed tessen strikes the back of the ukes hand after the sword has passed. Then immediately step in with the right bringing the closed tessen up striking the left side of the ukes neck in a yokomenuchi strike. As you strike, tenkan with your left foot to face the next incoming attack and to continue the circular downward motion of your yokomenuchi, bringing the uke around and to the ground. This will place you back in right hanmi 180 degrees from the beginning of this attack. Continue the arc of the arm, but at the bottom of the arc, reverse direction. Bring the tessen inside arcing toward your center, and then pointed at your right foot as you return to right hanmi in ready position. Attack #3: Open hand shomenuchi with right hand, striking at the left side of your neck As the uke moves in to strike your left neck, mirror the movement, moving in with your right foot while tenkaning with your left. As you tenkan, point the tip of the tessen at the ukes eyes disrupting his thinking and striking the face (but the strike is not emphasized). Then, as the blend is continued, the natural movement rotating you counter clockwise brings you into position to strike the inner forearm of the ukes right arm in a quick forceful moveme nt. As the uke is struck in the forearm, his motion is continued. Now extend and continue this arc, rotating the uke back to your center and then past you to the right. The ukes body and shoulder will rotate away from you as you guide the arm down and right as an extension of his natural rotation. As the uke falls, you continue your left tenkan causing you to return to right hanmi as your full tenkan is completed. (The uke and you are two arcs moving away from each other.) You will be 180 degrees from your starting position of the last movement as you complete your tenkan. To bring the tessen back to the ready position, the tessen is again continued in its arc toward your center bringing it back to point at your right foot. (This means in the form your right arm will execute two circular movements, one as the uke is redirected, and a second to bring the tessen back to the ready position.) Attack #4: Yokomenuchi with the sword to your left neck From the ready stance, irimi by shuffle step in with the right foot directly into the ukes attack, striking the ukes hands before the sword reaches the apex of the arc. Strike the hand with the tessen, then using your left hand brace against forward movement. (A late strike will not overcome the swords forward momentum.) Without pausing, after you shuffle in and stop the downward motion of the sword, step forward with your left and to the outside (behind) of the uke. Spear across the body of the uke with your left hand as you transition to a redirection of the uke, turning from your torso all the way across turning from right to left. With your left arm continue your motion from directly across to an exaggerated arc down to your left hip as the uke is off-balance backward across your left knee as you execute a shomenate. (The uke and sword both fall behind you.) As you spear across with your left, open the tessen with your right. Roll over your wrist as you did before bringing it in close to you. As you do this, your motion is obscured and the sound and flash of the tessen opening create a psychological shock and distraction. As the aikiotoshi is executed you are in a horse stance, weight centered, knees bent. The power of the aikiotoshi comes not from pushing with your left arm, but from the turn of your torso. (stay in horse stance, dont over rotate.) As you step away, fan yourself with the tessen. Step forward with the left then the right foot, taking a ready stance. (With the right forward, you should now be in right hanmi.) Look forward but slightly toward your right, since you are physically positioned to the left of the starting position of the kata. The next attack will come from the imaginary center point. Attack #5: Shomenuchi with sword From the ready stance, shuffle step forward, springing off your back foot, projecting forward your right leg. Your right foot should land just to the outside of the ukes right leg. At the same time, bring your tessen up extending your right arm (slight bend at elbow) pointing at the ukes thr oat, essentially stabbing the throat while the sword is still high over head. As your foot lands and your arm projects, youll be looking over the ukes right shoulder, as if you are projecting your strike through and passed the uke. As the strike is executed, the uke will fall back.

Attack #6

Bunki Note: Even if the sword motion continues down, by moving in, you are out of the path of the sword. By keeping a slight bend in the elbow, you prevent getting off-balanced yourself as the ukes arm comes down. Even if your strike misses, the shock of the tessen coming at the ukes throat and face will cause the uke to overbalance on his own feet, loosing his balance backward and falling. Once the strike is executed, keep your eyes forward. Although your left foot is already back, reset yourself by stepping back with your left foot, allowing the right to slide behind, returning to a right hanmi with feet approximately shoulder width apart. (Without this shift, your ending position in the kata will be too far forward.) Your right arm with the tessen still extended will return in an arc toward your inside, back to the ready stance. At this point, the mood of your ready stance is more aggressive, but the physical position is the same. Attack #6: Katatetori single hand cross grab of your wrist by the ukes right hand From ready stance, the uke grabs your wrist from in front of you and to your right. Do not pull back or away, rather go with the attack, with a slight shuffle step to the right as you drop your wrist down, openning the tessen as you go under the ukes wrist. When you go under the ukes wrist, the tessen will go under horizontally with your thumb on the upward side with the base of the tessen pointed away from you. After you go under the ukes arm, beg in coming up on the outside of the wrist. Come up high enough with the tessen that the furthest point of the tessen can reach over the top of the ukes wrist. Then,let the tessen drop over, trapping the ukes wrist between the tessen and your wrist. Then, rotate the tessen horizontally, drawing the uke in toward your center with the wrist trapped. (Bring the uke, your arm, etc. to your center. This should not be a contest of arm strength over the ukes arm.) Then discard the uke by projecting away and dropping him to your right as you shift back to your left, returning to ready stance as you arc the tessen back into place near your right knee. This should bring you to the exact position you were in at the start of the kata. Bunki Note: When the bunki is performed, keep the tessen closed so you can physically maneuver around the uke s wrist for a nikko wrist lock. Then, open the fan to trap, and draw the arm in (off-balancing the uke) followed by the projection away. If needed for the nikko, us e the left hand to aid in controlling ukes wrist and prevent the uke from releasing his grasp. Even if the ukes grip is loose and nikko lock misses, the wrist will be trapped. The off balance and projection away are the key elements of the kata. Complete Kata: Pause momentarily in ready stance. Then step back with your right bringing your feet together. Pass your tessen from your right hand to your left, completing the same bow (rei) that you did at the beginning of the kata. Then pause. Instead of picking up the tessen, wait for your sensei to acknowledge the kata is compelete.

Bunki version

Note on final position: This is primarily a linear kata with alternating front and rear attacks with tenkans between attacks so each attack is faced head-on. The angles used to irimi will bring the kata back to near center after nearly each movement if executed properly. The last 3 attack/movements must be executed in coordination to ensure the kata ends on center and facing forward in the same position as when the kata began since there are slight angles on each of these attacks. Attack four ends with the body facing slightly left. Attack five ends facing front, but slightly left of center. In attack six, the slight right and horizontal motion brings the kata back to center. Reference: Cunningham,D. Samurai Weapons 2008, Tuttle Publishing, Page 78 -101.

Attack #5 Attack #4 Attack #3 Attack #2 Attack #1

Tessan Shodan Kata

This information is presented for entertaiment. Seek approriate instruction before attempting any kata or activity.

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