Little House In Ise

Seiza a Mini-Howto
May 9, 2007, 20:22
Filed under: Aikido, Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Last night, Ueda Shihan talked about etiquette in a way that I had not heard from him before. I think he may be a bit nervous since he is taking a group of students, including me, to Honbu Dojo and doesn’t want any embarrassments. One of the things that he mentioned was how to sit properly in seiza and WHY it was proper.

It boils down to how to sit or stand when carrying or drawing a sword. As has been pointed out, the correct way to stand when in seiza is from the right foot. This is to make it easier to draw a sword carried on the left. The same is true for sitting. Left leg down first then right so as to make either striking or just plain carrying such an awkward object more natural. BTW, for both standing and sitting, he insisted that the _correct_ way also included, closing your knees and pinching your rectum tight. Not sure of the martial application there but they were interesting details.

He added a few more tidbits — one of which I had heard twenty years before but without explanation. When sitting in seiza, crossing the right toe over the left is considered proper. This is related to doing a fast-draw. If your left toe is over the right that might slow your first step. Similarly, when holding one’s hands politely, the right should be held by the left so as to keep it on the inside and thus closer to the hilt of your sword. This is related to the za-rei (seated bow) in which the left hand is placed first and then right (he said that either left then right or both at the same time were fine). He added that the reason for the hands being held in a dimpled triangle is to support your nose and face a bit in case your head is smashed into the ground from above and behind. Also related to za-rei was that the “polite” angle for the head/neck when bowing was such that the back of your neck should lightly touch the back collar of your gi. This allows you to be observant and polite at the same time.

I get a kick out of cool tidbits like these.


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