Kenjutsu (剣術) is usually recognized as combative offensive swordsmanship. With the sword already drawn with an aggressive intent the Samurai would move into Battle. The first recorded historical systematic teachings of the Japanese long sword began about 800 AD. Since that time, over 1200 different ryu (schools) have been documented.
The Samurai saw the sword as a representation of the soul. In light of this, many Practitioners of kenjutsu began to question if a higher understanding could be achieved through practice and study with the sword. These kenshi (swordsmen) developed the art of the sword (kenjutsu) into not only a superior art of war but a way to cleanse the very depths of the soul. Many Katas were developed to practice the hidden techniques and spiritual attributes of the sword. The Katas were much like puzzles. Pictures of the art of war to be put together by the practitioner only after he could descramble them through unrelenting dedication and training in the art of Kenjutsu.
Kenjutsu is considered a classical bujutsu (art of war or martial art), having been well formulated prior to the Meiji reformation (the classical/modern dividing line).Kenjutsu Schools tend to be quite secretive of their techniques, being ,very, closed to outsiders. Because of this reason the Katas were designed to hide the techniques from outsiders as well as enemies. Many believe the techniques to be lost, however they are still here and very much alive waiting to be discovered only by one who would obey the Bushido code. The art has a way of protecting itself from the "money hungry" and those with hidden agenda of the modern world. The secrets, therefore, remain hidden within the kata of Kenjutsu.
Kata (prearranged forms or exercises) are the usual way of learning the intricate motions required. Initially one practices solo, but later pairs or multiple kenshi kata are performed. The standard practice tool is either a bokken or a live blade. Actual cutting, and thrusting of the blade against water soaked rolled mats and bamboo poles, called tameshigiri, give the more advanced exponent practice in actual impact of the live blade against a target.
To sum up unique point of the teaching was the concept of Muso-ken, "no-thought sword", the tenets of which are reflected in the aphorism:
"In sword, no sword - sword becomes one with the body
In body, no body - body becomes one with the Kami (divine spirit)
Like a firefly circling, shining with natural brilliance
No hesitation, no deception, no thought, no barrier..."
“No fear, no surprise, no hesitation, no doubt.”
Miyamoto Musashi (1584 - 1645)
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