Anyone know of a Kenjutsu Dojo in LA?


Yellow Belt
Jun 27, 2008
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I'm thinking about going to MI in Los Angeles and I was wondering if there are Kenjutsu dojos there, as I'm looking into getting into that art?


Master of Arts
Jun 1, 2005
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I know of dojo that teach Suio ryu, Kashima Shin ryu, and Meishi Ha Mugai ryu, as well as Obata Toshishiro's Shinkendo and Toyama ryu in the Los Angeles area.
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Master Black Belt
Apr 12, 2007
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Calgary, AB, Canada
There are many kenjutsu ryuha. Do try and find one that's koryu (old school). There's so much utter nonsense in some modern weapon arts that it's hard to know if you're getting the real deal or not. Generally speaking, koryu is the "real deal" with regards to Japanese swordsmanship. There are other "real deals" out there however, if you can't find a koryu to your liking.

Here's a list of koryu kenjutsu schools. Google each and every one to see if there's a dojo nearby. Many are taught only in Japan, but some are relatively widespread.

Good luck in your search!

Best regards,


Chris Parker

Feb 18, 2008
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Melbourne, Australia
What are those? Different styles?

To take each from pgsmith's list by turn:

Suio Ryu is a school of Iaijutsu, which is primarily concerned with the use of the sword when still in the scabbard (ie sword drawing techniques). It traces it's history back to the Hayashizaki Ryu, which is said to have been the originator or the Iai concept. As well as swordsmanship, the Ryu teaches Naginata (a short sword-like blade on a long handle, typically 6-8 feet long), Jo (4 foot staff), and Kusari Gama (relatively uncommon weapon to study, a sickle with a wieghted chain attached), as well as "regular" kenjutsu use of the swords. It is set apart from other Iai systems by having it's kata (techniques) designed in such a way that they can be practiced as paired actions, rather than solo exercises.

Kashima Shinryu is a very old, famous system which has very close links in with Katori Shinto Ryu, possibly the most famous of the existing koryu arts. It includes Tsukahara Bokuden amongst it's past members/teachers, and is very highly regarded. Although focusing on the sword, this is a very complete system, and includes the use of Naginata, Yari (spear), Bo (6 foot staff), Kusari Gama, and Jujutsu. This system is characterised in it's use of sword by a particularly designed bokken, being completely straight rather than the more typical curved. This is because the Kashima Shinryu tends to have more impact between the weapons than other styles of swordsmanship, so the straighter bokken is to enable the weapons to handle more contact over time. It is also felt that the adapting to the curve of a real sword is not a very big obstacle to overcome (for the record, other schools such as Kukishin Ryu and Katori Shinto Ryu have kata that utilise the curve quite strongly, so they use a curved bokken). The Kashima Shinryu also has a philosophy of always keeping the sword moving, which shows in the flow it's practitioners achieve. The last very interesting thing about Kashima Shinryu is that it teaches it's fundamental principles (it's gokui) within it's initial kata, with the rest being explorations of those ideas and concepts, rather than only revealing those many years down the track.

Mugai Ryu is again a system of Iai (sword drawing). The founder (Gettan) learnt a number of systems, and founded the Mugai Ryu after studying Zen, with the philosophy being a great influence on his new art. It features primarily solo kata, with one advanced section for paired practice, and, a little unusually, a section for Iai with a Wakizashi (short sword).

Toyama Ryu is a modern system, being developed between the wars of the early 20th Century for the Japanese Army, around 1925, as during the Manchurian Invasion it was found that sword skills were very lacking. It took as it's heart a number of classical systems, paring away a lot of the ritual to get to a very pragmatic way to develop an ability to cut with a sword. One of the main systems that came to be relied on in the development of Toyama Ryu was Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, a very well known and respected system of Iaijutsu which also still exists today. Toyama Ryu is often classed as a school of Battojutsu, or Battodo, which is an alternate term for the Iai concept. If you're interested, Iai refers to "a meeting", whereas Batto more literally translates as "draw sword". It was a major influence on the next in the list...

Obata Sensei's Shinkendo is another modern system based on older arts. This approach to the sword is primarily taken from Toyama Ryu, with a greater emphasis on Tameshigiri (test cutting), and far less emphasis on sword drawing. Again, this system pares away much of the ritual, in order to give you the cutting skills quickly. For the record, though, there were some classical systems who took a similar approach, such as the Itto Ryu, which is said to be one of the most scientific and clinical sword arts from Japans fuedal period, and is also a great one to find if you can.

I don't know that this will really help you make your decision as to where to visit, essentially check out each as much as you can, and rest assured that you have my undying jealousy for simply having them available to you (I would pick Kashima Shinryu myself... I enjoy the more complete approach, and prefer the kenjutsu to Iai, but all are incredibly wonderful opportunities).