Kenjutsu - Techniques and Styles - Techniques


Kenjutsu techniques can be compared to the strategies of warfare, while batto-jutsu or kendo can be compared to shooting range techniques. As in the "Book of Five Rings", by Miyamoto Musashi, a kenjutsuist relies on the conditions of the ground, light source, as well as the opponents' capabilities, before implementing a practical attack. The attack is not set on any particular weapon or move to capitulate. Nor is there a predisposed target or trajectory - any exposed part of the opponents body is a possible target (as in Musashi's "Injuring the Corners").

To be effective, a kenjutsu strike/or counter-strike is a composition of several techniques: feigning, cutting, jabbing, thrusting, parrying or binding, footwork, choice of weapon, and even knowing the opponents weapon. It was mentioned that once Musashi realized the physics of the Chain-and-Sickle (kusarigama) that he was able to defeat it.

The feigning techniques are effective movements of the weapon, footwork, center of gravity, and even the use of kiai. Applied effectively, the opponent is set-back one move, while creating an opening elsewhere. The feigning technique should be angled to allow a quick direct shot from this position. Only sufficient amount of practice will perfect these techniques, and whatever method of teaching it takes to convey the training of proper reflexes. There is not much time to think during a skirmish or battle. A fluent continuation of techniques must be deployed in order to manage even multiple opponents. One second per each opponent is too long. Managing an entire army should be treated the same way. A practical understanding of the body and weapon is necessary in order to be able to dispatch a strike or counter strike whether standing, walking, or rolling around the ground, (or whether an army is attacking or retreating). There is no time-out or ready position. It might even be a fight under minimum visibility or even total darkness. When striking range is reached, reflexes dictate the outcome.

Cutting, Jabbing, and thrusting techniques must be all preceded by a feign. The defender can easily parry a strong attack due to the telegraphing momentum behind the attacker's weapon. Therefore, a strong cutting technique can easily receive a deadly cut across the sword hand or forearm. The feigning movement should compliment both double-sword, two-handed sword, or any weapon.

There are some strikes that do not require a preceding subterfuge. These are referred to as "Quick Strikes". They are done with two hands on the sword, or with sword in each hand. One hand is at the base of the tsuka (to provide longer reach), and the other hand is at the ridge of the blade to provide the initial force to flick the sword as quick as an arrow to hit the target. This could also be done with the double sword, with one sword providing the push for the dispatch. These postures are hidden, and the ready positions are implemented while switching hands or while changing steps. These flicking strikes can be administered from any angle (from the top, sides, or below).

When parrying, always try and direct the point of the sword to the target. This minimizes the step needed to be able to counter-attack. Thus, the opponent is at an immediate disadvantage. Also, using the quick strike at the opponents sword hand or forearm will immediately incapacitate the opponent's attack before having to parry it. A simple rule of thumb to keep the point of the sword pointed to the opponent (or at within the area of the gate) while attempting to parry in all angles, will provide a good foundation for an appropriate counter maneuver reflexes.

Musashi had mentioned that the footwork shall be accommodating to whatever terrain or purpose that is given. The correct stride is to be applied to whatever leverage is necessary or needed to effectively wield the weapon on-hand. The choice of weapon and knowing the opponents' weapons is detrimental to the assessment of the right technique and strategy. Knowing the center of gravity of a particular weapon can help the assessment of its maneuverability and speed, as much as its effects on leverage and kinetic forces.

The use of the double-sword (a sword in each hand) can provide an ultimate control of the gate. The "Gate", as referred to by Miyamoto Musashi is the opening between two fighters at a given time. All attacks must go through the gate in order to reach the target from any angle. To close or disrupt the gate at the correct given time is necessary to deflect incoming attacks. The double swords' ability to alternate and compliment their trajectories provide a strong continuous flowing barricade as well as trapping and striking repetitions. Timing is essential in the use of this technique, and Musashi had advised that the double-sword technique should be learned early-on.

In the later stages of kenjutsu, one can win without the use of a blade - by merely understanding on how the physics of sword work. A kenjutsuist can resolve or win without having to fight (or without having to cut) - and gaining followers instead. There is not one individual or certain religion that started this. Any level headed person would not want to maim or kill another human being if he knows that he can do it at will. A kenjutsuist (a true swordsman) strives to attain well beyond cutting techniques - to be able to serve his master or act on his own as a diplomat of fairness in the living hell.

(by Antonio LaMotta, 2012) for more detailed instruction: refer to Shinobi Kai Kenjutsu.

This section does not cite any references or sources.

Hiroshi Ozawa

  • Battōjutsu
  • Tojutsu

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