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The samurai way of the sword

The samurai way of the sword

Modern day Samurai sword fighting refers to the practice and study of traditional Japanese swordsmanship, which includes techniques for using the katana (long sword) and the wakizashi (short sword) in combat. While the traditional form of Samurai sword fighting was developed centuries ago and was primarily used in feudal Japan, many martial arts schools today teach various forms of Samurai sword fighting as a means of preserving the art and passing on the knowledge and techniques to new generations.

Some of the modern-day sword fighting style include:

Tameshigiri

Tameshigiri is the practice of cutting targets with a sword to test its sharpness and the skill of the swordsman. Kenjutsu is the traditional art of Japanese swordsmanship and is usually studied with a partner. Battōjutsu is the art of drawing the sword quickly and efficiently to strike an opponent, while Iaido focuses on the smooth and efficient movements of drawing, striking and re-sheathing the sword. Kendo is a sport that simulates sword fighting with bamboo swords and protective gear, and Jodo is a martial art that uses a wooden sword and shorter sword to defend against a sword or stick-wielding attacker.

Tameshigiri is a Japanese term that translates to “test cutting.” It refers to the practice of cutting targets with a sword to test its sharpness and the skill of the swordsman. Tameshigiri is often associated with the samurai sword, and it is typically performed using a katana (long sword) or a wakizashi (short sword).

The targets used in Tameshigiri can vary, but they are typically made of rolled straw, bamboo, or tatami (straw) mats. Tameshigiri is typically performed in a controlled and safe environment, and it is usually done under the supervision of a qualified instructor. The swords used in Tameshigiri are usually specially made for this purpose, and are made from high-quality steel, which is designed to withstand the rigors of cutting targets.

The practice of Tameshigiri is not only for testing the sharpness of the sword but also to improve the swordsman's technique and form, such as the way of cutting, the angle of the blade, and the movement of the body. Tameshigiri is also used to test the strength of the sword and the swordsman's ability to handle it.

Kenjutsu

Kenjutsu is a traditional Japanese martial art that focuses on the use of the sword, specifically the katana (long sword) and the wakizashi (short sword). Kenjutsu is one of the oldest and most well-known forms of Japanese swordsmanship, and it has its roots in the feudal era of Japan when the samurai class dominated the society.

Kenjutsu is typically studied with a partner, and it involves the use of a wooden sword (bokken) or a blunt metal sword (iaitō) for training. The practice of Kenjutsu includes techniques for attacking and defending, as well as footwork, body movement, and strategy. It also emphasises the importance of proper form and discipline, both physically and mentally.

Kenjutsu is a combat-oriented art and is not just about the physical technique but also about the mind and spirit. Kenjutsu's practice is about developing the discipline and control necessary for combat, as well as the understanding of the sword and its use in battle.

Kenjutsu is still being practiced today, and it is taught in many martial arts dojos around the world. It has also evolved over time, and some schools have incorporated elements from other martial arts such as Kendo and Iaido.

Battōjutsu

Battōjutsu is a traditional Japanese martial art that focuses on the art of drawing the sword quickly and efficiently to strike an opponent. It is sometimes referred to as “the way of the sword draw” or “the art of the sword draw.” The term “battō” refers to the act of drawing the sword from its scabbard, and “jutsu” means “technique” or “art.”

Battōjutsu is a specialised form of swordsmanship that emphasises the importance of speed, precision, and timing in drawing the sword and striking an opponent. It is typically performed using a katana (long sword) or a wakizashi (short sword), and it is usually done with a live blade. The practice of Battōjutsu involves the use of specific techniques for drawing the sword from its scabbard, cutting techniques, and footwork.

Battōjutsu is a highly specialized form of swordsmanship and is not as widely practiced as other forms of Japanese swordsmanship such as Kenjutsu or Kendo. It is often taught as part of a broader curriculum that includes other forms of martial arts such as Iaido, Kendo, and Kenjutsu.

Battōjutsu is also associated with Samurai, who were the elite warrior class of feudal Japan and were trained in the use of the sword. They were expected to be able to draw their sword and strike in one smooth motion, and this is where the term Battōjutsu comes from.

Iaido

Iaido, also known as Iaijutsu, is a traditional Japanese martial art that focuses on the smooth, controlled movements of drawing, striking, and re-sheathing the sword. The term “iai” means “to be together with the sword” and “do” means “way” or “path.” Iaido emphasises the mental and spiritual aspects of swordsmanship, and it is considered to be an art of self-improvement.

Iaido practitioners train to draw the sword quickly and efficiently in response to an attack, while maintaining proper form and posture. They also practice various forms, called “kata,” which are pre-arranged sequences of movements that simulate combat against one or multiple opponents.

Iaido is usually performed using a live blade, and it is usually done solo. The practice of Iaido is done in a seated or standing position, with the sword starting at the practitioner's side and ending in the same position.

Kendo

Kendo is a modern Japanese martial art that simulates sword fighting and is practiced with bamboo swords (shinai) and protective gear. The term “kendo” translates to “the way of the sword” and it is a sport as well as a martial art. Kendo is a physically and mentally demanding sport that requires discipline, focus, and stamina.

In Kendo, practitioners wear protective gear, including a helmet (men), a breastplate (dō), gloves (kote), and a skirt-like protector (tare). They use shinai, which are bamboo swords, to strike each other on the head, wrists, and torso. The goal of Kendo is to strike the opponent with a valid strike, which is called a “point.”

Kendo also includes the practice of kata, which are pre-arranged forms that simulate sword-fighting against one or multiple opponents. Kendo kata is performed solo, with a partner, or in a group, and they are designed to help practitioners improve their techniques, form, and strategy.

Kendo is considered as a modern martial art and was developed in the 19th century, as a way to preserve the traditional sword fighting skills of the samurai in a safe and controlled environment. Kendo is a highly respected martial art in Japan and is widely practiced around the world.

It is also an Olympic sport, and the International Kendo Federation (FIK) is the governing body that oversees Kendo competitions worldwide. Kendo is also considered as a way of self-improvement and discipline, and it is not only about winning but also about personal growth and development.

Aikido

The bokken (wooden sword) is an important training tool in the practice of Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art that emphasises the use of circular movements and leverage to redirect an attacker's energy. In Aikido, the bokken is used to simulate the movements and techniques of sword-based attacks, and practitioners learn to neutralise these attacks by using throws, pins, and joint locks.

The practice of Aikido with a bokken is known as Aikido Kenjutsu, which is the study of the sword in Aikido. It helps Aikido practitioners to develop their sword-handling skills, improve their timing and distance, and increase their awareness of the body's movement and balance.

The bokken is also used in other Japanese martial arts like Kenjutsu and Kendo, but in Aikido, the main focus is on blending with the attacker's movement and redirecting the attacker's energy, rather than striking or cutting.

Aikido practitioners use the bokken as a training tool to learn how to handle a sword, how to use the sword in a defensive way, and how to use the sword to control an attacker. As Aikido is a non-violent martial art, the bokken is used as a training tool to simulate sword-based attacks, and practitioners learn to neutralise these attacks by using Aikido's techniques, such as throws, pins, and joint locks.

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