General History On The Use Of The Japanse Sword The word Samurai comes from the verb Samurau

/Saburau which means “to serve”. Samurai were known as Bushi (Warriors), who formed Buke (military families). The Samurai trained in Bugei (Bu=Martial, Gei=Method). In the early days there were no formal Dojo’s. Training was done in-house within the Buke and covered Bujutsu (Martial Art/Technique i.e. Kenjutsu), to get you prepared for battle. However, in those days, surviving a battle was a lesson learnt, literally! For much of its history, Japan was ruled by the Bakafu (military rule, Bakafu refers to tent headquarters), the elite ruling class of the Samurai. The head of the Bakafu was generally a Seii Tai Shogun and this was abbreviated to just Shogun (Commander in Chief) later on. The first Shogun ruler was Minamoto No Yoritomo in 1192, although technically the Japanese head was still the Emperor. (In reality however, the Emperor was for most of the time, a puppet of the allpowerful Shogun and his Samurai). The Japanese sword as we know it today began to take its shape in the early Heian (782-1184) Period, when the smith (Kaji) Amakuni made the sword known as Kogarasu-maru (The Little Crow), which had a distinctive curve. Up until then the Japanese swords had been of the straight variety. The next development during the Hein period was the Shinogi (ridge line), which was perfected by the smiths Sanjo Munechika, Yasutsuna and Tomonari. The Shinogi Zukuri (Ridge style) Japanese sword is the type most associated with Japan today. These developments made the Japanese sword (Nihonto) the first truly offensive and defensive sword in the World. Which when combined with the double handled hilt that could be just as easily used with a single hand, enabled the Samurai to develop a great variety of offensive, and defensive techniques. Warriors in other countries had to rely in the main on shields and armour for defence and had to carry either a single or a double-handed sword (sometimes both), their techniques being restricted to one or the other. The Samurai however, could interchange between single and double-handed techniques with their Tachi (Great Sword comes from the word tachikiri “to cut in two”) with ease and did not wholly have to rely on armour for defence. Japans experience of War was one of civil War, which had led to a unique way of fighting. Samurai were in fact-mounted archers using their unique bow (Yumi) and rarely using their swords. In part this was possibly due to their O’Yoroi armour, which was designed for mounted archers. Even when the gap closed, more often than not they would use the tanto (dagger) to try and kill each other with. Also Samurai of opposing sides would try to find a suitable opponent by announcing their pedigree in a challenge, a Samurai from the opposing side would do the same and the fight would begin. The people that used the sword the most were Ashigaru (foot soldiers) and Sohei (warrior monks). Their armour (do-maru) was more suited to using the sword and the main pole arm weapon of the time, the Naginata (halberd). Indeed one the most famous Martial feats off the Hein period, was by the Sohei, Tsutsui Jomyo Meishu. At the battle of Uji in 1180 he killed 12 and wounded 11 Taira Samurai with his Yumi, then killed a further five with his Naginata, which then broke. Jomyo then drew out his Tachi killing 9 more, when it broke cutting through the helmet of the ninth, he then pulled out his tanto and used that. It is worth noting that a Sohei would not have been able to afford the best-made blades in Japan at that time!!

Infact, Samurai of the time followed Kyuba no Michi (“Way of the Horse and Bow”), which shows the emphasis on the Yumi. Kyuba no Michi was also the forerunner to the Bushido code (“Way of the Warrior”), which became popular in the peaceful Edo period (1600-1867). It was not until the Kamakura (1185-1332) period that the Japanese faced an outside threat. In 1274 Kublai Khan the great Mongol leader sent an invasion force of around 30,000 men to Japan, compromising of Mongol and Korean troops. The Samurai raced to meet them at Hakata bay, but they were in for a big surprise. The Mongols fought in tight formation (much like the Greek Phalanx) and used hails of arrows loosed at the same time. As a consequence the Samurai were almost overwhelmed, getting struck by arrows as they were introducing themselves and trying to be the first into battle. The Samurai (who were completely outclassed tactically and somewhat outnumbered), relied on sheer bravery to get to the Mongols, where they found their swordsmanship and general martial skills to be superior. They managed to stop the Mongols getting a beach-head, and by the evening both sides retired. The Mongols went back to the boats and the Samurai badly mauled back to the local villages. However some Samurai had put together some 300 small open boats, some were used as fire boats to set alight the Mongol ships, other were used as archery platforms, this attack along with the worsening weather meant the Mongols had give up on their initial invasion plans. The Samurai knew that the Mongols would be back. They realised where they had gone wrong tactically and began to rectify some problems they had had with their swords when trying to cut the tough leather Mongol armour. For example the points previously used were too small, and the swords were not broad enough, so they made broader swords with wider hamon, and longer points. In 1281 the Mongols came back with a vastly bigger fleet (not equalled until D Day WWII 6th. June1944) and a fighting force of around 140,000 men (this not including the naval consignment etc), consisting of Mongol, Chinese and Korean troops. The Japanese adopted a new tactic and sent raiding parties out to the fleet where Tanto and Tachi were used to great effect on the Mongol ships, although the main fighting was still on Hakata Bay beach. Once again the vastly outnumbered Samurai were able to prevent the Mongols getting a beach-head, even though through sheer weight of numbers, the Mongols threatened to overwhelm the Japanese. Recent studies have shown that it was the Samurai with their Martial skills and superb bladed weaponry and daring boat raids, which kept the invasion fleet from winning the day. To put what the Japanese did into perspective, it is estimated that as little as 2,300-6000 Samurai according to written documents from Japan from that time were fighting at Hakata Bay. Things were getting pretty bad for the Mongols on their boats. Disease was beginning to spread and supplies were running low. The Mongols seemed unable to gain the upper hand on the landing area, and when a typhoon hit the fleet scattering it, a great deal of damage was done. The Samurai then proceeded to finish off the Mongol invasion force, seeking revenge for the atrocities committed by the fleet on neighbouring islands, something the Samurai were unaccustomed to at that point in their history. The typhoon was given the name Kami-kaze (Divine Tempest) and although it wrecked the Mongol fleet, the Samurai had already turned the tide of battle with their fierce resistance. Up until 2001, many historians including the Japanese thought that what saved them was the Kami-

kaze. However, new research shows (even Mongol historians now agree) that it was in fact the Samurai’s warrior attitude to battle and martial skill that actually won the day, not the typhoon (hurricane), which just hastened the demise of the Mongols. Research by Kenzo Hayashida has added further light to why the Mongol fleet was so badly damaged by the storm. He was the first Marine Archaeologist to try and locate the sunken Mongol ships, which he managed to do some 700 years after the storm had decimated the invasion fleet. After many months of searching he and his team found enough of the wrecks to find out why the Chinese and Korean-made ships had sunk. These ships should have been able to withstand a typhoon, and they were well ahead of European-made ships of that time. Two reasons came to light:

1. Some of the fleet were in fact flat-bottomed river boats, and
2. It appeared that the Korean and Chinese workers had sabotaged some of the ships, or had been sloppy in their work for the Mongols. Crucially the masks were slightly off centre and twisted, so when the typhoon winds hit the sails the force of the wind toppled the ships over. This was the first defeat of the Mongols (where they outnumbered their opponents), who had defeated many of the top European armies of the time, including the likes of the Teutonic Knights, as well as crushing China, Korea and making inroads into Persia (Moghul is the Persian name for Mongol, and the Moghuls were Mongol descendants who went onto conquer India). Up to this point they had been the Worlds most formidable army. It is also from the Mongol invasion that the Japanese realised what an asset their swords were to them in battle, and thus began the sword being the ‘Soul of the Samurai’. In studies of battlefield wounds in Japanese civil war battles, around 75% of all wounds were from arrows, 23% from Sword/Naginata, 1% from Spear/Tanto, the rest from things like clubs and rocks. One of the exceptions was the Mongol invasion in 1281, where on the beach the Tachi, Naginata and Tanto had a much bigger role to play. Gradually Samurai warfare became more foot orientated than cavalry and in the Muromachi (1392-1572) period this brought about a change in sword type. The Katana (comes from Kata-ha, which means “one edge blade”) came into vogue. The Katana is very similar to the Tachi (infact initially many of the best Katana were cut down Tachi put into Katana mounts), the main difference being the mounts and the way that they were worn. The Tachi was worn edge down and it was hung from the belt, ideal for cavalry use. Whereas the Katana was worn edge up and put through the belt, which gave rise to a development of sword style as well. The Katana was probably a development of the Uchi-gatana (strike/fighting sword), which was used by the Ashigaru back in the Heian period, but they were of a poor standard. Also the Katana may have come from the Katateuchi sword (single strike, this refers to the tsuka being designed for one hand, with a katana length blade of around 63cm). However with the change in the type of warfare, high-ranking Samurai started to have Uchigatana of high quality made, those with a blade length over 60cm became known as Katana and those below 60cm and longer than 30cm became known as Wakizashi (The term Wakizashi is made up of two words, ‘Waki’ which refers to the side or peripheral, and ‘Zashi’, which comes from the verb ‘Sasu’, which means to insert. So a Wakizashi is a sword worn to the peripheral of a katana). The two also became popular to wear together and when worn in that

manner they were called Daisho (“big-little”), it also became a sign of Samurai rank. The Katana was basically used as the outdoor weapon and the Wakizashi for use indoors. There were two main reasons for this, when a Samurai entered another property of Samurai rank, they were expected (most of the time) to hand over their Katana which was then put on a rack (katana-kake) by the entrance. The Samurai was however, still allowed to wear the Wakizashi (in most cases), which then became their only weapon for defence. Also the Wakizashi was more manoeuvrable indoors than the longer Katana (i.e. Less likely to get stuck in the ceiling or doors etc), so in most circumstances it was the weapon of choice for indoor fighting. However they were sometimes used in conjunction with each other, especially in a melee situation. A major development in the practise of Martial Arts also happened in this period, the emergence of Martial Ryu (School/Style) began to appear. The first confirmed School was the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu, founded around 1450 by the first Sensei, Iizasa Choisai Ienao. At 60 years of age he spent 1000 days at Austere Martial Training and Religious Purification Pilgrimage at the Katori Shrine at Sawara City in Chiba prefecture, receiving enlightenment. This is actually reflected in the name of his style, Tenshin Shoden means the granting of divine sanction and protection/divine, true and correct tradition. Shinto is Japans core religion and means “The Way of Gods”. Katori comes from the shrine which is dedicated to the mythological deity Futsu-nushi-no-mikoto, who in the tradition of ancient Japan helped pacify the land bringing it under rule of Ninigi-n-mikoto, grandson of Ama-terasu-o-mi-kami (Sun Goddess), who is theoretically the ancestor of the Japanese Imperial family. The Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu is technically the forerunner of all Ryu and Dojo, it is a Bujutsu school which covers Kenjutsu, Iai-Jutsu (Batto Jutsu), SoJutsu, Ninjutsu, Bo-jutsu, Ju-Jutsu etc. The school has produced many famous swordsmen such as Tsukahara Bokuden and Kami-izuni Ise-no-kami Nobutsuna, the founder of the famed Shinkage Ryu, to name but two. The school is a national treasure of Japan, and is protected by the Japanese government, to ensure it stays as its founder originally intended. (The school name is often abbreviated to “Katori Shinto Ryu”). It is also worth setting out the difference in the aims/priorities of bujutsu, such as the Katori Shinto Ryu, and classic budo such as Kendo (mid 17th Century), not to be confused with gendai budo, such as the eclectic style of judo (1882, the first of the gendai budo) etc. A. Classical bujutsu, in order of priority 1. Combat, 2. Discipline and 3. Morals. B. Classical budo, in order of priority 1. Morals, 2. Discipline and 3. Aesthetic form. This brought about major changes in Martial arts; the first one was that students started to follow a Ryu (sometimes read as Nagare) or Ryuha. So what is a “Ryu”? Ryu translates into flow, flowing, school/style as a way of doing something, in other words a Martial Tradition. However a traditional ryu is much more than that, for example a ryu is nearly always founded through divine guidance (tenshin sho) bestowed upon its founder (shosei or shodai), which has makimono (hand scrolls) with the techniques written down on it, in a way that only the long term practitioners of the ryu could interpret.

It also has headmasters that are relatives of the family (sei) or direct family descendants (Dai), however if the descendant headmaster can not teach for whatever reason, they will give authority to the student with the best qualifications to teach the ryu on their behalf. A ryuha (ha=group) is a group of people practising the ryu where the headmaster is of non-bloodline lineage. To get into the Ryu one often had to sign a blood oath (keppan, blood seal) to show ones commitment to the style. Then after a while you would receive a kirigami (low level certificate, for example a 1st Dan black belt in the Budo system), then with further study and maturity of the individual a mokuroku (mid level certificate, for example a 3rd Dan black belt in the Budo system), then finally the menkyo kaiden (license of complete transmission, certificate of full proficiency, for example a 6/7th Dan black belt in the Budo system). In the Katori Shinto Ryu the menkyo kaiden was called gokui (hidden techniques) kaiden and you had to be at least 42 years of age before you were eligible for the gokui kaiden. This was to ensure correct maturity of the student before being taught Gokui from the ryu. This system is still used by many of the traditional bujutsu ryu of Japan and is the forerunner for the kyu (means class, i.e. your orange and green belt grades) and Dan (means step, black belt) grades. The introduction of Ryu also brought about Taryu-jiai (challenge matches between Ryu and individuals) to see whose style was the best. These contests were rarely fought with real swords and the bokuto (wooden sword, forerunner to the bokken) was the preferred weapon as the end result was less likely to be fatal. In fact over time the technique of tsumeru (pulling the technique) became a vital part of taryu-jiai and one of Japans great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi was renowned for his skill at tsumeru. Another development in this period was the Musha Shugyo (Warrior Pilgrimage), this was when a noted swordsman would travel the country participating in taryujiai with worthy opponents to perfect their swordsmanship. Two of the most famous Samurai to participate in this were Tsukahara Bokuden and Miyamoto Musashi. Tsukahara Bokuden was born in 1490 and was taught swordsmanship at an early age in which he excelled. Only aged 17, he went on his first Musha Shugyo, defeating all before him. Then civil war broke out and he served his Lord in the battlefield, being involved in 39 separate engagements. Bokuden was also involved in single combat 19 times; he was also noted for singling out enemy commanders and killing them, during this period of his life. By the age of 37 he had devised the Shinto Ryu (New Strike, different characters to Katori Shinto Ryu), of which the hitotsu-tachi (one sword, implying one stroke) was central to the Ryu. The hitotsu-tachi was a technique where one batto-jutsu or kenjutsu waza (technique) was all that was required for each opponent. He went on a further two musha-shugyo, whilst on the second one he became the kenjutsu/battto jutsu teacher to the Ashikaga Shogun, the highest honour that can be bestowed on a Kengo. Bokuden died at the ripe old age of 81 (1571) and although he passed on his knowledge to his successors, they were all killed in the various civil wars of the period. However somewhere along the lines his style (potentially) survived and Bokuden Kenjutsu Ryu is still taught in Japan today (2006) by Oyama Hidehiro. Then Hikida Bungoro (1537-1606, known as one of the ShiTenno or Four Kings of the sword) started to use the shinai in much the same way as a bokken in his Hikida-kage Ryu. The shinai he developed was very crude and heavy; it was

almost as dangerous as a good bokken and not used in the way a shinai is in modern Kendo. The next great Kenshi was Miyamoto Musashi born in 1584 during the Momoyama (1573-99) period. I do not need to write much about him, as much has already been written, however it is worth writing a little bit. Musashi was not a classically trained kenjutsu-ka, he had no formal Ryu training, he learnt by his experiences of combat, by exchanging knowledge with other experts, and doing a lot of training. As a teacher he didn’t believe in the traditional Ryu way of teaching and formalisation of technique, and such things as secret techniques. He was a great believer that the student should adopt what they learnt from him, to fit within themselves, so that what they did was totally natural (Bruce Lee’s JKD has the same philosophy), to their own mind set and physical ability. In effect when Musashi died his way of doing the sword died with him, much like when Bruce Lee died his personnel JKD died with him, however the concepts carry on, but by coincidence they have both become formalised, which was not what Musashi or Bruce Lee were about. Musashi also had a great sense of humour and independence, without which he could not have achieved what he did; he was also a very presentable person, contrary to popular belief. Before he died he wrote a classic Martial Arts Book “Gorin No Sho”, which I strongly recommend. It is best to study the book with a view of how it reads personally to you, and take it from there. This book was heavily influenced by Kukai’s Shingon Buddhism, and Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of war’ (the correct title is ‘Sunzi Binga’, which means "Sun Tzu's Military Strategy), it is worth doing comparative study of both Musashi and Sun Tzu books. Musashi also wrote “The Thirty Five Articles”, and on his death bed he wrote “The Way of Walking Alone” or it can be interpreted as “The Way of Independence”. Also worth reading is “The Mysterious Record of Immovable Wisdom”, written as a letter to Yagyu Munenori, by Musashi’s great friend the Zen priest Takuan, which is his Zen interpretation of Musashi’s principles. Below is the specification of the sword made by Musashi’s favourite smith; Signature: Izumi (No) Kami Kaneshige. Gold inlayed Kambun Gannen 7 Gatsu 21Nichi. Blade length dimensions: Nagasa 78.4cm, Sori: 1.8cm, Motohaba 3.08cm, Shape: A well-proportioned shinogi-zukuri katana, chu-kissaki, iori-mune, ubunakago. Jitetsu: Ko-itame bears jinie and slight chikei. Masame appears on the shinogi-ji. Hamon: Wide suguha-hamon shows gentle notare in places with nie, nioi and kinsuji. Hakikake-boshi draws small circle at the peak. Kaneshige was a sword smith whose clan originated in Echizen province. The first Kaneshige moved to Edo at the beginning of Kan-ei era and got the title of Izumi Daijo in 1626, he later served for the Todo family, and also forged sword in Sesshu province, present Mie prefecture, he passed away around 1658. Kaneshige's sword is very sharp and ranked at Ryo-wazamono. Quite a few swords still survive inlayed with gold on the tang about the result of cutting test. This katana is printed on a famous sword book titled ‘Shin-to Taikan’ written by Mr Kasho Iimura. The next development in Japanese swordsmanship was the beginning of Iai-do (a term that was not actually used until 1932, and popularised by the 20th Century Japanese swordsman, Nakayama Hakudo, 1869-1958). Its origins go back to the Kengo swordsman Jinsuke Shigenobu (1546-1621?), who devised his own Batto

Jutsu Ryu whilst he spent 18 years in Saitama (then known as Bushu prefecture). Jinsuke is said to have based his original art on the Chinese theory of yin and yang (in Japan it is called in and yo) and there appears to be very little difference in practical application to other ryu at the time. The fact that he called his style a form of batto-jutsu (implies instant striking from the scabbard, also called iaijutsu) allies to that. However it is his emphasis of teaching Batto-jutsu as a means to develop spiritual awareness that is unique. His original name for his style was Batto-Jutsu Shimmei Muso Ryu and the important word in his Ryu is Muso. Muso is a Taoist concept, which represents an ego less state of mind, muga. Jinsuke set of on a journey in 1617; it was the last time he was seen by any of his followers and nobody knows what happened to him. Iai (The character “I” refers to the different positions that can be assumed by the human body with a great sense of inner motivation, acting in a just way. The character “ai” infers the ability of a person to respond and adapt themselves to all given situations in a flexible manner and therefore harmonise themselves with all things. The character Do signifies a michi, which is a “way” or “path”, which is to lead oneself to a path of self-realisation and eventually spiritual perfection) comes from the phrase "Tsune ni itte, kyu ni awasu", which means ‘Whatever we may be doing or wherever we may be, we must always be prepared for any eventuality’. This idea of using the sword as a way of spiritual attainment also coincided with a very peaceful time in Japanese History, the Edo period. The famed Japanese General Tokugawa Ieyasu at the battle of Sekigahara (1600), pretty much unified Japan, this was completed at the siege of Osaka castle in 1615. So with peace some Samurai found this new way of using the sword appropriate, although they were still using the classic fighting postures of iai-goshi and tachi-ai. A further development happened with the 7th Headmaster of the Jinsuke line, Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin who (as far as I can tell) introduced the tate-hiza seated posture (which may well be an adapted posture of iai-goshi, especially designed for Iai-do style practise) instead of iai-goshi. Eishin was a very highly regarded kengo and the Sensei of the Tosa warriors. A further development of Iai-do was added by Omori Rokurozaemon Masamitsu, who was a disciple of Eishin (before they fell out) and this was the use of seiza instead of tate-hiza. Seiza is a formal kneeling posture where one is unlikely to have a katana in ones obi (belt), it would normally be associated with wakizashi waza. This further removed Iai-do from a practical combat art to a ritualised sword form, where style and spiritual development was more important than the ability to be a good warrior swordsman. It is worth going into Seiza a little bit; Seiza is written with two Chinese characters. The character pronounced sei- means "proper, right, true," and by itself can be pronounced tadashii, meaning "just right" or "proper." The character -za means, "Sitting posture," and is written with an ideograph depicting people sitting on a raised platform under a roof. During the Edo period (16001868) sitting in seiza became the "proper" posture, while engaged in a formal activity sitting on tatami mats indoors. However you will see picture scrolls depicting samurai and nobility sitting cross-legged indoors as well, but during the Edo Period seiza evolved to become the main formal sitting posture, on tatami mats. Another thing that a lot of Iai-do practitioners began not to do, was the vital practice of Suemono giri (meaning “fixed (non-living) object cutting”). This is where Samurai practised cutting angles on straw, bamboo etc to improve their skills. Suemono is often confused with tameshigiri (meaning “test-cutting”,

defined as “to cut humans or maki-wara in order to test the cutting ability of swords”), which is where specialist sword testers would cut through dead criminals (occasionally live) to see how a sword performed against flesh and bone. The Edo period is the time most people associate with Japans Samurai, this is a mistake, one should go much further back as during the Edo period many (not all) Samurai went into decline and were no longer the renowned warriors of the past. Also during the Edo period one of the last developments of Japanese swordsmanship was by Abe Gorodaiyu, when he used the terminology Kendo (Way of the Sword) instead of Kenjutsu in 1668, his Ryu (Abe Tate Ryu) was still practised in the traditional kenjutsu way, but the spiritual emphasis was more like Iai-do. During the Kanbun period (1661- 1672), the use of Shinai (started by Hikida Bungoro (1537-1606) started to have an impact on the style of sword made for use by some Samurai, they tended to be stouter, and have very little curvature, and are simply known as Kanbun style swords. Then in 1711 Yamada of the Jikishin-kage Ryu started to use the shinai in a way that was similar to modern Kendo and started to experiment with protective equipment. The next development was around 1751 and was done by Nakanishi Chuta. He further developed the protective equipment along with the shinai and his students practised shinai-geiko (shinai practise), basically modern Kendo (shinai-shiai meaning shinai contests), in his Nakanishi-ha Ryu. The bushi always considered shinai-geiko as irrelevant to genuine kenjutsu, but did see its value as a way of developing spirit among its practitioners; it was not treated as a serious study of swordsmanship. Then in 1876 during the Meiji period (1868-1912, this is when power was returned to the Emperor and the Shogonate no longer ruled) an edict was issued forbidding Samurai to wear the Daisho. This in effect ended the Samurai’s power in Japan and the Samurai class, although many of them took up high-powered positions in the new Japan. However there was a backlash in 1877 when the Samurai of Satsuma rebelled against all the changes under Saigo Takamori (1827-77, a former commander of the Imperial Guard and supporter of the Emperor). Saigo Takamori’s Samurai were defeated by the new conscript army, whose Generals used better tactics than (both sides used modern weapons) Saigo Takamori and his Generals. When Saigo Takamori was badly injured by a bullet in the groin, he and a faithful retainer (Beppu) retreated to a suitable spot so Sagio Takamori could commit seppuku (Japanese ritual suicide, often known as Hari-Kiri) and enable Beppo to cut off Takamori’s head in the traditional manner. Beppu ensured that the new army would not find Saigo Takamori’s head (as was the tradition) and then charged the new army, sword in hand to meet his fate. They were the last true Samurai, and amazingly the Japanese authorities had a statue erected in honour of Saigo Takamori in 1899. Tom Cruises film “The Last Samurai” is based loosely on this story. (A term you will often hear about regarding Martial Arts of Japan is Koryu, so what is Koryū? It is a Japanese word that literally means "old school" or "old tradition". Koryū is a general term for Japanese schools of martial arts that predate the Meiji Restoration 1866 to 1860)

Then in 1909 a university of Kendo Federation was formed and in 1911 Kendo became part of the physical recreation of Japans middle schools and the Butokai (an organisation that was formed in 1895, to promote Martial Arts) in 1912 had 12 Nihon Kendo Kata (Japan Kendo Kata) formulated to complement Modern (Shinai) Kendo swordsmanship. Nine are performed with the long sword (odachi) and three with the short sword (kodachi). In 1928 the Zen Nippon Kendo Remmei (All-Japan Kendo Federation) was formed and this brought about the unity of Kendo technique and gradings. After the war all martial studies were banned for a while, but Shinai Kendo was allowed back as a sport in 1948. Initially however, the Nihon Kendo Kata were not allowed to be practised, it was not until 1952 when the All Japan Kendo Federation was formed that Kendo was again practised in its pre-war format. The use of Shinai in Modern Kendo had an undesirable effect; the shinai an extremely lightweight bamboo stick does not even closely resemble a sword, techniques could be done with shinai that couldn’t be done with a sword and vice versa. So through the use of shinai or the practise of Modern Kendo, Kendoka (students of Kendo) were not being taught the “Way of the Sword” and the realities of combat, shinken shobu (shinken meaning sword, shobu meaning lethal results). As a consequence a committee was formed in 1967 of 11 high-ranking experts and they concluded that use of shinken was required and introduced 7 Iai-do kata. However there was much criticism of the lack of kata and in 1977 another committee was formed. By 1980 another three Iai-do kata were introduced, these ten kata are known as the Seita-gata (standard patterns) Iai-do of the All-Japan Kendo Federation. These were done to make a more complete curriculum of the Kendo syllabus, they comprise of three techniques from seiza, one from tate-hiza and six from tachi-ai. In 2001 a further two Iai kata (standing position) were introduced, so there is now a total of twelve kata practised. From 1999 to 2002, the Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho (Bokuto Application for Kendo Fundamental Technique Practice) was worked on, and in 2003, nine forms were introduced. Three forms to brown belt, three more for 1st Dan, and three more for 2nd Dan onwards. This was done to put a link back to traditional training when Samurai used Bokuto (Bokken) not Shinai, to practise their cuts. This article was written by Simon Hengle. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Simon via email.

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