Kenjutsu techniques

Discussion in 'Japanese Swords and Sword Arts' started by ant888, Jun 15, 2016.

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  1. ant888

    ant888 White Belt

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    Hello all,

    I've been looking for a guide (can be pdf) on the kenjutsu basics.
    I would like to practice at home, while not at the dojo. (With a bokken).
    I've been searching all around the Web, but came up empty. Would someone happen to know of a place/have one I could look at?

    Thank you, ant888
     
  2. MAfreak

    MAfreak Purple Belt

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    while they will tell you not to learn without an instructor,
    you could youtube search for sword techniques for example of kendo, aikido and hapkido.
    kenjutsu is a term for several sword styles based on kata. but the basic techniques are pretty much the same.
    i did sword self study by that too and later participated on a kenjutsu seminar to get small details corrected.
     
  3. ant888

    ant888 White Belt

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    I have an instructor, and he said there I can practice with the bokken, while studying techniques. Is youtube as reliable as publications/manuals? I like to look at the techniques, even without practicing.
     
  4. MAfreak

    MAfreak Purple Belt

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    why shouldn't youtube be? when there are instructors, similar to the ones who write books, who post videos, then sure. in videos one can often see more detail in the movements then in photos with written descriptions.
     
  5. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Why not practice only what your instructor has taught you, without going to outside sources? I suspect you will find variations that could be big problems if you try to work with other source material. One system is not the same as another. One sensei is not the same as another. If you need a reference, ask your sensei if you can film him doing the relevant material.
     
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  6. ant888

    ant888 White Belt

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    Hm, I can try asking my sensei, good idea. (Although, I doubt he will let me film) Also, I might also as well watch youtube like MAFreak suggested. :)
     
  7. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    I am certainly no expert at kenjutsu, but I am quite certain that the different schools have different ways of doing things, you would be best served by staying within your own school, not watching random things off of youtube.
     
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  8. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    Your instructor is not trained in a traditional Japanese sword art, and you should find someone that actually knows what they're doing.
    Sorry about being so blunt, but I personally know quite a number of instructors of Japanese sword arts, both on-line and in person, all around the globe. Not a single one of them would ever think of telling a student that it was ok to "study kenjutsu techniques with a bokken on-line". That is the antithesis of traditional Japanese sword arts training as they are based on total systems of movement and not "techniques". While it would be ok to look for videos of the specific ryuha to which you belong as an aid to your practice, looking at videos from other schools would be a detriment as their approach and responses would be different.

    Just my opinion based on my own experiences in the traditional Japanese arts
     
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  9. ant888

    ant888 White Belt

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    I think, I should really find a new instructor. I thought he knew what he was doing.
    Sorry for that dumb questions. :(
     
  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Not a dumb question. This is actually a mistake that is very common among beginners, most of whom are unwilling to take good advice when they are told of their mistake.

    If you are willing to take good advice, you are leaps and bounds ahead of the pack.

    There is a right way and a wrong way to go about this. Study with a good teacher is essential. Study by YouTube is a mistake.
     
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  11. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    To the OP, that was an excellent question. A lot of people never get to that point.

    Find a good kenjutsu instructor. Then it's worthwhile looking at legit youtube clips of your style (if such exist) as a way to jog your memory about what you're being taught.

    An important question is what does he mean by "kenjutsu"? Taking a bokken and swinging it about while weakly imitating generic sword techniques isn't really kenjutsu, any more than buying an old epee and trying to poke someone is classical fencing. There's a lineage and pedagogy to go with it.

    If you can't find good kenjutsu or iaido there are other places to learn good swordsmanship. Legitimate kenjutsu is hard to find. Good iaido and kendo is relatively easy to find. Where are you located? Members here on the fora could certainly help you find a place.
     
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  12. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    I'd like to add my voice to those that previously said that it's not a dumb question. It is perfectly reasonable if you don't know any better. I do agree that you should look for a legitimate instructor if you really want to learn Japanese sword arts. If you tell us where you are located, perhaps we would have recommendations for you.
     
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  13. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hi.

    Well, it seems others have gotten here before me, some more credible than others, but I thought I'd add to those who have already commented…

    First off, the answer's going to be no, as you've gathered. There is no such thing as "kenjutsu" as a particular art… there are many particular systems of kenjutsu instead. And each will have their own traits, mechanics, movement, postural concepts, tactical preferences, applications, and far more. There may be a set of "basics" for a particular system, but there is on single, universally applicable set of "basics" for all kenjutsu.

    As a result, the real question will be, as Mark asked, what do you mean when you say "kenjutsu"? Are you referring to a particular system taught at your dojo? Or is what you learn at your dojo more of a generic usage of a Japanese sword within the other teachings (which is commonly, in fact, pretty much universally, a case of an instructor or organisation of some art or another [most often a karate or similar system, such as TKD] making up a bunch of what they think kenjutsu is without the benefit of any actual experience or knowledge, let alone a genuine basis in any usage of the weapon)? If the former, we'd need to know what system you're learning… but realistically, there still won't be anything beyond some potential videos of embu (martial demonstrations) of the system… if the latter, well, who knows what you're learning? You'd need to discuss it with your instructor.

    Yes, we will. Because we know what we're talking about… and because you can't learn without an instructor.

    Neither Hapkido nor Aikido are sword arts… while Aikido can (and often does) include what is known as Aiki-ken, it is really not the same as kenjutsu… it's an expression of the principles of Aikido through a sword… which is pretty different. As for Hapkido, that's even further removed, so… uh… no.

    As far as Kendo, there's again a large number of issues using it as a basis for understanding kenjutsu, or sword in general… so personally, no, I wouldn't advise such searches.

    Even that isn't entirely accurate… realistically, kenjutsu is one of a number of terms applied to the combative usage and application of Japanese sword, most typically trained primarily through kata-geiko (which, in Japanese arts, commonly means paired practice), and almost entirely refers to systems classified as "koryu" ("old schools"). These are arts that pre-date the modernisation of Japan with the Meiji Restoration of 1868, and have a basis in the actual usage of swords in combat in one way or another. Modern derivations or interpretations lack this essential aspect, which can lead to some very inaccurate understanding and misinterpretations of swordsmanship, as well as some fairly flawed mechanical and tactical methods.

    No, they absolutely are not.

    No, you have played with a sword. That's all.

    Oh, and before you say I've never met you, and how could I possibly know, remember that you have a link to your you-tube account in your signature, and your sword is seen there… and, if you were to come to me, I'd be telling you to forget everything you think you know about sword, as frankly, there was not a single frame that was good.

    No, you-tube is not "as reliable as publications/manuals". You-tube is a good source for getting a glance at the variety of sword arts out there, but there is almost nothing on there that is any good as an instructional reference… even that which is designed for such a purpose is highly specific to particular arts (most commonly Kendo or Iaido), so is not suited to other arts… and, honestly, is best used as a reference for things your instructor has said only. Pretty much all other "sword instructional" videos are done by people who are teaching these "modern", invented, fake systems, or are people who really have no business teaching in the first place.

    There are many reasons you-tube wouldn't be as reliable as a manual… even leaving off how limited, mono-dimentional, and lacking a manual or other publication has to be by necessity.

    Yep.

    Based on how things are presented here, I'm highly inclined to agree… however…

    So far, all we have to go on are the following statements from the OP about his study: "I would like to practice at home, while not at the dojo (with a bokken)", "I have an instructor, and he said there I can practice with a bokken, while studying techniques."

    Now, we don't know what dojo this is (what is taught there), who the instructor is, what experience the OP has (has he just started, is sword a new aspect to a longer study of whatever is primarily taught at the dojo, is the gent in one of the X-Kan groups, or anything else?), or anything else at this point… so, while you're likely right on the money, Paul, there is a chance that there might be some kind of credibility (on some level, at least) there, and the OP simply hasn't quite understood what has been said. After all, if the teacher has simply told him that he can practice with a bokken at home (meaning to practice what he's learnt in the dojo), but the OP has taken it to mean he is meant to look for his own reference material, that's not necessarily on the instructor, nor a reflection of the instructor not knowing what he's doing… we simply don't have enough information from the OP for that.

    That said, there are a few things in those small comments that make me think the options narrow… and a few things I'd like clarified when the OP returns.

    Absolutely.

    Yep. One of my common comments is that the techniques are not what makes up the martial art… they are simply the way the art is expressed… the real art is what is beneath them.

    If the aim is to learn techniques, then yes, it is absolutely a detriment to say the least. If it's simply to be aware of just what the variety of approaches to the concept of kenjutsu consists of, it's fine to watch them. Just don't try learning from them. It simply doesn't work.

    Not just your opinion, my friend…

    Honestly, until we know what you're actually learning, what system, and so on, there's no indication that he doesn't know what he's doing… it could just as easily be you've misunderstood, or not communicated the situation to us fully. So, can you let us know what you train in? And how long you've trained in it? That's the first step before you decide that your teacher is terrible based on the comments of people you've never met who don't know what you train in.

    Just for fun, to finish this off though, I'm going to leave a couple of videos of kenjutsu systems, to show the range that exists:

    Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu. This is probably the most famous of classical sword systems in Japan, laying claim to being the oldest remaing ryu-ha, as well as being the source school for many other arts, however it is actually a sogo bujutsu (composite system) with the sword as central. As seen here, there is Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu, Ryoto (two sword), Kodachi (short sword), Bo, and Naginata. The system also includes Sojutsu (spear), Shuriken, Jujutsu (Yawara), Ninjutsu, castle fortification, battle strategy, divination, and more. This particular video is of the Otake Dojo, however it's important to note that other dojo (particularly the Sugino Dojo, but also including the Sugawara Budo group, Shigii Munenori's group, and the Noda-ha) do things with large and small differences.

    Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu. This is the art of Musashi Miyamoto, possibly the most well known swordsman of Japan's history. The art is known for it's Nito Seiho (two sword methods), however it also has Itto and Kodachi Seiho (long sword, and short sword methods) which make up the bulk of the kenjutsu methods. The art also included Bojutsu, Jutte, and Yawara (Jujutsu). Again, there are other lines, such as the Gosho-ha, who do things a fair bit differently.

    Araki Ryu. Araki Ryu is again a sogo bujutsu system, including pole arms (naginata to begin with here, but also including spear and nagamaki), chain weapons (kusari gama and chigiriki), shuriken, and a very rough form of jujutsu. The sword is seen from about 5:45 here. More than the other systems, there is a large amount of variation between forms of Araki Ryu, with the principle of "one domain, one ryu" being applied in many forms (in other words, a fully licenced practitioner, such as Ellis Amdur here, is almost expected to teach not necessarily the exact same methods he learnt, but his own form of Araki Ryu).

    Nodachi Jigen Ryu. This very fierce form of kenjutsu was prominent in the Satsuma area, and many of the members of the Satsuma rebellion (that the film "The Last Samurai" was base loosely on) were practitioners of this art. It is, in some ways, a fairly rudimentary system, at least in appearances, and is based on developing an incredibly powerful kiri oroshi. It is said that, in this system, there is no real second cut, as the first cut has already cut the enemy down… to the point that opponents of the Satsuma swordsmen were found with the backs of their own swords embedded in them from an attempt to block the incoming strike.

    Okay, this is a long one… and this is an example of all the problems mentioned earlier. This is someone who has no clue about kenjutsu whatsoever, and no actual legit training at all. Everything is wrong from the word go, with issues in grip, postures (they seem to be using the terminology of the Bujinkan's sword methods, but obviously don't have any training there, as everything is done incorrectly and deeply flawed), the idea of what a kenjutsu kata is here is based on the idea of karate kata… really quite different… and far, far more. This is why you can't learn from you-tube… as this guy seems to have tried to do.
     
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  14. MAfreak

    MAfreak Purple Belt

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    even if no pure sword-arts, aikido and hapkido use swords, so you logically can learn sword basics from them. ;)
    and of corse the basics are the same. sword gripping, thrusting, slashing, blocking they do equally and why shouldn't they? i can tell that hapkido in its forms is more flexible, switching more often to the "orthodox" stance instead of the "southpaw" stance most used in the sword arts. but this is further then just the basics.

    and you see, there are good and detailed videos out there. even when not as good as training with an instructor, but better than none. :)
     
  15. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I am quite certain the basics are not the same. And no, it's not better than nothing. Better to do something else altogether, if good instruction is not available. Sometimes that is just the reality of life.

    Otherwise, at least be honest with what you are doing, just playing with a sword, not doing any proper training or study.
     
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  16. MAfreak

    MAfreak Purple Belt

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    so what?
    and i stick with it: the basics are the same. even when the further training goes in different directions (and we have kenjutsu and hapkido here and i got live insights, not just from videos, thats why i think, i can say that).
    and sure its better than nothing. its ridiculous to say otherwise.
    i made my point and don't like these discussions between wise-*sses so its useless to go on arguing.
    its up to the readers to decide for themselves.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
  17. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Right… I might be in a bit of a mood.

    No, you can't "logically learn sword basics from them". You could learn Aiki-ken from an Aikido school that teaches it, that's about it. As far as "Hapkido sword"… honestly, the less said the better. There was no sword that Choi brought back from Japan, all that's taught as "Hapkido sword" is made up, and desperately flawed. To think that that could teach anything even related to actual sword usage is to have no idea of how these weapons operate.

    No, they absolutely are not. At all.

    Ha, not even close. No two sword systems can even agree on that, let alone anything else.

    No, they don't. They have very different cutting mechanics, tactical applications, postural concepts, and far more. Many don't even have what would be considered "blocking" at all… and none of them "slash".

    Well, firstly, they don't… but the more important question would be "why would they"? Each of the arts are separate and different… there's little reason for them to be the same.

    Honestly, this sentence shows how little you understand of sword… there's no such thing as an "orthodox" or "southpaw" stance in sword arts… there is the standard idea of right hand on top, left hand on the bottom (of the tsuka), but even that's different in the details… and there are one or two exceptions even to that basic idea.

    Frankly, you have no idea what you're talking about.

    No, there aren't. The only video I posted that even tries to be instructional was very much a case of "how not to do it". And no, it's not "better than none"… it's simply a deeply and fundamentally flawed approach.

    I'm sorry, "so what"?!? Dude, you have no idea of what you're talking about… so how about you listen to the people who do, yeah?

    And I stick with it… you don't have any clue about sword at all, you have no experience with sword at all, and you are arguing with the people who do. No, the basics are not the same across different ryu-ha, and no, trying to learn from videos is not "better than nothing", it's living a delusional fantasy based in some kind of entitled self belief… and has nothing to do with actually learning sword. It's fooling yourself.

    And frankly, it's ridiculous to say otherwise.

    Your point was heard, weighed, and found to be lacking in all regards. You have two choices here… you can continue to live with your delusions and incorrect understanding, but understand that should you make any comments, you will have them pulled apart… or you can accept the fact that you are now being corrected by people who have years of experience and knowledge in this area, and try learning something. Up to you, really.

    Sure… I mean, on one hand, we have you… who has played sword in their backyard, with little to no actual training… on the other hand, we have Mark (Langenschwert), who is experienced in both Japanese and Western sword systems, Paul (pgsmith) who has many years in Japanese sword arts, and myself, who has some two and a half decades in Japanese arts, including sword arts, direct training and experience with some half dozen different ryu-ha, as well as modern Iaido and related arts, as well as more than a passing knowledge of another two dozen or more Koryu systems, and friends who train or teach many of those.

    But sure… leave it up to the reader who's more credible…
     
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  18. ant888

    ant888 White Belt

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    Thank you, that was a lot of my questions answered. ;)
     
  19. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Okay… now can you answer ours? What do you train in?
     
  20. ant888

    ant888 White Belt

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    I train in Kenjutsu. Not sure if I'm answering the question correctly. (Feel free to correct me).
     

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