After a couple of days seminar Sato Sensei said “it is important to have fun”. So we did ishu jiai.
As far as I am aware there are no official rules for ishu jiai and the important thing is to show your art in a good way. “Sportsmans Rules” in effect.
Baptiste has learned many of the older styles of naginata which feature unusual (to modern naginata eyes) kamae and techniques. He knows I train a reasonable amount of modern naginata so immediately went to a front-on kamae (which I happen to use in naginata as well). It is very effective at drawing the opponent in and making the distance hard to gauge. Sune is an easy point if the opponent is foolish enough to charge the kamae.
I thought I was not a foolish opponent and would be able to cover the distance to an easy target fast enough. Turns out I am a foolish opponent. My gedan left my front sune open and as soon as I attempted a feint my foolishness was revealed.
Having learned from that I held my distance and kept cover on my sune with a much straighter gedan. This allowed me to block but left me unable to make a good attack as Baptiste could control the distance. I tried using fast footwork to feint Baptiste into losing control of the distance which didn’t work and am thankful that Do is hard to do with a naginata.
After some attempts at different techniques from Baptiste I felt my footwork speed was letting me down. In naginata I always use migi chudan and my right foot is much better at avoiding sune than my left. So I changed sides. This is never done in jukendo but apparently isn’t outside the rules. Probably because it is so stupid they don’t need a rule for it.
Immediately my faster “evading sune” footwork paid off. Admittedly with a tsuki much more like a naginata tsuki but I am guessing Sato sensei was feeling generous (or confused).
The change in kamae also meant my gedan covered my sune much better and Baptiste had to try striking the other side.
In several of the bayonet manuals for other armies they use a “sliding through the front hand” technique which I have always felt looks incredibly risky as it leaves your weapon very vulnerable to being knocked out of your hands if you don’t succeed. Nevertheless it does change the range of the mokuju significantly. Baptiste knows the range of a mokuju and I think that change made all the difference and his sune was a little rushed, striking high and letting my tsuki succeed.
I doubt that will work again but it was great fun.