Kenjutsu

KenjutsuBrief History and Background of Kenjutsu

Kenjutsu essentially covers all Japanese swordsmanship and goes back a long way to the days of the Samurai and feudal Japan and focuses on swordsmanship technique/method. Samurai practised the ‘technique of fighting’ (essentially Bujutsu).

Practise of the art was originally carried out using wooden swords (Bokuto/Bokken) or even occasionally real swords (Katana). In the 19th century the use of bamboo (Shinai) and body armour was introduced, which allowed full contact sparring, although many do not use full contact training.

Kenjutsu lost it’s popularity somewhat in the mid 19th century, due to the Samurai classes being dissolved and many other changes happening to Japan at the time. However practise of the art picked up again in the late 19th century by the Japanese military and police.

KenjutsuOld traditional classic Kenjutsu is still quite uncommon outside of Japan and is still considered a secret ‘art of war’ training method. Modern Kenjutsu is quite popular amongst those interested in traditional style Japanese martial arts and is now mostly practised using a Bokken. The art is also quite commonly added to other martial arts to attach weapons type training to an otherwise free hand type martial art.

There are various schools/organisations and all will have different philosophies and ways of teaching.


KenjutsuKenjutsu Training

There are a wide variety of Kenjutsu schools with varying techniques and styles. Common techniques taught are cutting, jabbing, thrusting, parrying, feigning, combined with good footwork. Many of the techniques are practised in Kata form (A set sequences of moves).

On the whole, most will teach you how to yield a sword with practical applications based upon your surroundings. They will also teach you about your weapon and the weapons you may encounter and about how the body works. All this is done to familiarise yourself with what is/can confront you and the possibilities that can occur during a confrontation (albeit much less likely in this modern day).

Much of the partner training is non contact and consists of each individual attacking, counter attacking and practising all the other techniques short of full extension to contact.


Kenjutsu Equipment/Gear Used

Jacket (Keigoki)
Trousers (Hakama)
Obi (Belt)

If full contact is carried out by the school:
Armour (Bogu):
Helmet with grille face guard and neck/shoulder protectors (Men)
Cotton head towel (Tenugui)
Breast plate (Do)
Protective skirt/waist armour (Tare)
Gloves (Kote)


Weapons used in Kenjutsu

Bokken/Bokuto – Wooden training sword – (bok(u), “wood”, and ken, “sword)

Some schools may use:
Shinai – Bamboo practice sword, usually made from 4 pieces of bamboo and bound together with leather

Sai – Three Pronged weapon

Wooden or Real edged swords:
Katana – Traditional Japanese Sword, that’s slim, curved and has a single edge and mostly associated with the Samurai
Kodachi – Short sword usually less than 60cm in length and again mostly associated with the Samurai
Nodachi/Odachi – Long sword that can be upto 4 foot long, usually a field weapon used with 2 hands and again mostly associated with the Samurai

And many others


Celebrity Kenjutsu Practitioners

No sole Kenjutsu celebrity practitioners recorded on the internet.


Movies featuring Kenjutsu (basically any Samurai Movies)

Title
Year
Samurai (Musashi Miyamoto)
1954
Seven Samurai
1954
The 7 samurai
1954
Samurai 2 (Duel at Ichijoji Temple)
1955
Samurai 3 (Duel at Ganryu Island)
1956
Yojimbo
1961
Chushingura
1962
Harakiri
1962
Sanjuro
1962
Kedamono no ken
1965
Samurai
1965
Samurai Assassin
1965
Sword of Doom
1966
Samurai Rebellion
1967
Kill!
1968
Goyokin
1969
Lone Wolf And Cub: Sword Of Vengeance
1972
G.I. Samurai
1979
Shogun (TV series)
1980
Makai tenshô: Samurai Reincarnation
1981
Legend of Eight Samurai
1983
American Samurai
1992
After the Rain
1999
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
1999
Gohatto
1999
The Twilight Samurai
2002
The Last Samurai
2003
Zatoichi
2003
The Hidden Blade
2004
Love and Honour
2006
13 Assassins
2010
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
2011
Hirokin
2011

 

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