Sword Arts: Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu and Jojutsu

Japanese Sword

Iaijutsu is the ancient Japanese martial art of drawing the sword and cutting in one fluid motion.

The first creation of techniques that emphasized the draw-and-cut are widely credited to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu (1546–1621). The first schools dedicated exclusively to sword drawing appeared during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Until this time most schools of swordsmanship emphasized techniques that started with the sword already drawn— two people aware of each others presence and intending to do battle. In modern times we refer to these techniques and schools as Kenjutsu.

Because all techniques start with the sword in the scabbard, iaijutsu is often used for counterattack while higher levels of practice may include techniques for aggressive surprise attacks. As a system of techniques iaijutsu is less relevant to the situations of open warfare and more applicable to the daily life of Samurai.

The practice of Iaijutsu and Kenjutsu differ therefore in their implementaions; while iaijutsu students must visualize their opponent (and often many opponents), kenjutsu must be practiced with a physical opponent.

Modern practice of iaijutsu generally begins with a bokuto / bokken (wooden sword), in time, students will use a mogito— typically an alluminum-alloy blade with a dull edge mounted with traditional sword furniture. The use of mogito / iaito allows the student to get very real understanding of the mechanics of proper drawing and cutting techniques while maintaining a safe practice environment. Upper level instructors may also use a shinken (sharp sword) in their practice but this is rare and normally not done in a typical class setting.

Because kenjutsu techniques require a partner, iaito are not suitable for practice— a bokuto that can stand up to rigourous training is required. Shiro kashi (white oak) is the prefered wood stock for bokuto.

Ono Ha Itto Ryu Kenjutsu

Ono Ha Itto Ryu is the oldest of the sword schools stemming from the original Itto Ryu (one sword school) and dates back to the 16th century.

The techniques of Ono Ha are characterized by direct downward cuts and subtle lateral movements almost imperceptible from any angle other than straight on. Ono Ha is also famous for its use of Oni-gote (demon gloves) to teach students how to carry the cut through the target.

The school itself contains a vast catalog of techniques that encompass the use of Otachi (long sword), Kodachi (short sword) and also Taijutsu (body techniques). Ono Ha Itto Ryu is informed by both an unarmoured dueling perspective and an awareness of armored tactics.

Sasamori Junzo was the 16th master of Ono Ha Itto Ryu as well as a resptected politician, educator, peace advocate, christian minister and a high ranking Kendo practioner who wrote one of the first books on Kendo in english: This is Kendo: The Art of Japanese Fencing. In fact, the techniques of Ono Ha Itto Ryu and the invention of the shinai (bamboo sword) are what eventually led to the formulation of Kendo (Japanese sport fencing) as it exists today.

In 1975 Sasamori Takemi inherited leadership of the Ono Ha Itto Ryu, becoming the 17th master of the style and has been studying the art for over sixty years.

Sasamori Takemi Soke also maintains the following credentials:

  • Board Member for the Kobudo Kyokai (Association of Ancient Martial Ars).
  • Instructor for Keisatsu-daigaku (University Police) of Tokyo.
  • Headmaster: Reigakudo, Tokyo, Japan.
  • Shin Muso Hayashizaki Ryu, Soke
  • Choku Gen Ryu Naginata, Soke

Bakersfield Budo also maintains a Kenkyukai (study group) of Ono Ha Itto Ryu Kenjutsu under the KNBK.

Class Times

Tuesday, Thursday
Ages 13 and above.
7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Kokusai Nippon Budo Kai

The KNBK is an international organization dedicated to the preservation and continuation of the teachings of traditional Japanese Koryu and gendai martial arts.

Our focus is the preservation of the Masaoka-Ha tradition of Seito Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iai Heiho through it's direct transmission over twenty-one generations.

The KNBK also preserves the teachings of Shindo Muso Ryu Jojutsu and the associated sogo bujutsu, Onno Ha Itto Ryu Kenjutsu and other modern forms of Japanese and Okinawan martial arts.

The organization was established in 2007 by Hanshi Masayuki Shimabukuro at the request of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai and Hanshi Miura Takeyuki Hidefusa.

Miura Takeyuki Hidefusa
Founding Chairman Emeritus and Soshihan

Shimabukuro Masayuki Hidenobu
First Chairman and Soshihan

Carl E. Long
Current Chairman and Soshihan

Seito Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iai Heiho

Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu is one of the most popular styles of iaijutsu practiced across the world. The origins of Eishin Ryu extend back to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu (1546–1621) and the tradition istelf has been shaped by many important teachers since Hayashizaki sensei.

The name of the style itself “Hasegawa Eishin Ryu” came from the seventh generation headmaster Hasegawa Eishin who adapted techniques originally meant for use with a tachi (longer predecessor to the katana) to the shorter sword of the time. Hasegawa Eishin is also credited with the addition of techniques now known as Chuden Tatehiza no Bu.

Oe Masamichi Shikei, the 17th generation headmaster later combined the techniques of his line of Eishin Ryu known as the Tanimura-ha with the techniques of the Shimomura-ha line (the two had split after the 11th generation). Oe sensei also reduced a number of redundant techniques while keeping the originals and changing their names for clarity. He named the restructured school Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu.

Oe Masamichi had many students, one of which was Masaoka Kazumi. After the passing of his teacher, Masaoka Sensei established his own seperate line of transmission; Masaoka-ha was carried on by Narise Sakahiro and Miura Takeyuki Hidefusa.

In present day, this lineage is now carried on by the students of Shimabukuro Masayuki Hidenobu, disciple and successor of Miura Sensei. It is this lineage that is recognized by the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai— the oldest governing body of traditional martial arts with the backing of the imperial family.

Curriculum

Bakersfield Budo follows the teachings of the Seito Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iai Heiho as outlined by the KNBK.

Our iaijutsu program includes the standing Batto-Ho set as detailed by Kono Hyakuren; a student of Oe Masamichi Shikei and peer to Masaoka Kazumi from whom our lineage stems.

The Koryu (old school) curriculum includes the Shoden Omori Ryu Seiza no bu, Chuden Tatehiza Waza, Okuden Suwariwaza, Okuden Tachiwaza, Tachiuchi no Kurai and Bangai no bu. During his lifetime Shimabukuro Hanshi also espoused standing versions of the Shoden and Chuden sets called “Tachi Iai.”

This tradition also encompasses the practice of tameshigiri / suemonogiri (test cutting using a live/sharp sword on various targets). These components all serve to make the student aware of proper body mechanics, focus, and technique for the effective use of the sword.

Together with an integral observance and practice of sincere etiquette, these elements make up the core curriculum of our iai program.

The Reality of Training

Many traditional martial arts have easily visible applications in the real world— karate teaches body mechanics for effective self-defense, jujutsu teaches the control of the musculoskeletal system, aikido takes attack energy and redirects its focus; the use of the sword in the real world is less obvious.

Iaijutsu translates to “art of mental presence and immediate action;” it is the study of being mentally present in the moment. Even as individuals it is not possible to be in the moment by ourselves. We exist in every moment with our environment and other human beings.

Practicing iaijutsu (iaido as more commonly termed today), teaches students to have the mental presence to act with dignity and compassion in every moment of everyday life. In practical terms, effective use of the sword is not possible while allowing one's thoughts to stray; attention, focus and control must be utilizied in every moment for the realization of correct technique and the safety of those around you. Iaijutsu allows us to expand our everyday mental awareness by first demanding a physical awareness on the dojo floor.

It is through this practice of being mentally present that we can use to be aware of more correct, dignified action and become better people— human beings that make their communities better, that make their cities better, that ultimately make their nations and the world better.

To recognize and realize peaceful, fruitful and prosperous existence is now the goal of Samurai ideals— it is the sustaining reason behind training in a traditional Japanese Koryu.

Shindo Muso Ryu Jojutsu

The Jo (short staff) used in Shindo Muso ryu Jojutsu is measured at 4 Shaku, 2 Sun, 1 Bu, which is roughly 50 and a quarter inches. It’s use developed around the mid 17th century as a result of a duel between the famous Miyamoto Musashi and Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi.

According to Muso Shindo Ryu tradition, divine inspiration gave Gonnosuke the dimensions of a short staff with whom he would be able to defeat Musashi.

The length of the Jo is designed to be just out of reach of a daito (long sword) and is characterized by direct strikes which utilize the sharp edge of the cut ends.

Movement is frequently designed to control the sword by striking to the flat of the blade and controling the opponents hands with locks and other techniques. Distance is used in such a way that the sword’s effectiveness is mitigated.

Jojutsu is a very intricate art which demands exact technique in order to work against a sword properly. For this reason it is one of the harder sword arts to learn and requires much attention to detail, practiced body awareness and timing.

Jojutsu is an aggressive but fine compliment to the understanding of other sword arts in general.