This 400 year old sword system is closely related to the famous Katori Shinto Ryu through the license of Shinto Muso Ryu founder, Muso Gonnosuke Sensei, in the original Ryu. It is thought that the Shinto Ryu derives from the Matsumoto Bizen no Kami lineage which would explain the differences in the styles today. The system is also sometimes referred to as Kasumi Shinto Ryu Kenjutsu.
Because beginners in the Ryu would normally commence their study with the Jo or 4 foot staff, Kenjutsu was not normally taught until they had completed all 64 of the Jo kata. In this way the student had been fully grounded in the use of the Jo as Shidachi and the sword as Uchidachi – and the Kenjutsu kata were taught as the final piece of the Kenjutsu puzzle.
My teacher Nishioka Sensei, was concerned that the level of swordsmanship was diminishing to such an extent that he asked that we commence teaching Kenjutsu separately as a means of addressing the decline. As a student you can reap the benefits of that decision by accessing highly personalised training in the art from the outset.
There are twelve introductory Kata (pre-arranged sequences) comprising eight Odachi (long sword) kata and four Kodachi (short sword) kata. These are presented in a mixture of what Nishioka Sensei refers to as ‘Zen’ (escaping) and ‘Go’ (entering) styles. Beneath these introductory Kata lies a wealth of variation to be unearthed through regular Keiko (study and practice). While the Kenjutsu training lacks the physical contact of Aikido, this is more than compensated for by the intensity of unarmoured weapons training.
Q. Do I use a sharp blade from the outset? A. No. The beginning student will practice first with a bokken – a wooden sword and a specially made saya (sheath). These items are provided initially and you can purchase new ones for yourself as you proceed.
Q. How big are the classes? A. Class sizes are restricted to ensure safety and personalised tuition.
Q. Are there swords provided when I commence using a blade? A. Yes. These are available initially however you can also receive assistance in purchasing a sword to suit you when you wish.
Gradings are generally not available in this art. Classes are available to people aged 15 years and over only.