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Aikido: The art of Kenjutsu, the Japanese swordsmanship.

Updated on August 18, 2014

Introduction.

Kenjutsu is well known thanks to the famous Japanese characters named "Samurai", The great loyal ancient warrior, masters of the "Katana", the Japanese Sword. They mastered the use of the sword for combat and create several sword technique for different combat situations, making them great strategists and soldier in war, some of them had enough knowledge and practice to kill their opponents with just one cut.

The samurai had a phrase "One cut, one kill" referring to the level of mastery in the wielder, killing an enemy with just one cut was a great achievement and not an easy task, also they thought that the katana had an independent soul linked to the samurai, that's why they were trained to never throw or leave their swords in other places, that was really rude and an insult to the soul in the sword that was granting service to the samurai.

The Samurai trained with a "bokken" a wooden replica of the katana but in the right hands even a bokken could be as dangerous as the katana. They practiced the correct grab of the sword, how to unsheathe and sheathe the sword in a proper way and in a lighting speed( Iaido in Japanese), how to clean a sword and how to honor the sword soul.

Source
The katana wooden replica: Bokken.
The katana wooden replica: Bokken. | Source

Kenjutsu and Aikido.

Aikido and Kenjust are different martial arts, but in the end both of them share a goal: "Mastering the technique of a certain weapons or style".

For Aikido, the sensei, instructors and students are focused in the practice of the "Taijutsu" or close quarters combat bare handed, making throws, locks, attacks and counter attacks.

In the other hand Kenjutsu is focused in the practice of mostly the Katana sword, searching for a higher level, making the sword and extension of the body with great power in the proper hands.

In the end both martial arts share one philosophy: "Being better in what we do physical, mental and spiritually", both students Aikidosha or kendosha search for the higher level of skill in their arts and both martial arts help each other.

Being an Aikido Student can be something really good, you can learn many things about, throwing, locking and subduing somebody else for self defense, mainly Aikido is a defensive martial art, but adding the technique of the Kenjutsu can boost he skills and the technique bare handed of the aikidosha making an enhancement in the progress of the student, making it easier to detect the strong points and the weak point as well.

It's recommended for every aikidosha to have one Kenjutsu class in the week, to complement the training with the Taijustsu training.

Other weapons.

In Aikido there are also other weapons than as an student you must master, those weapons are:

-The Bokken/Katana: The weapons of the samurai.

-The Jo: A short wooden staff used by the elder samurai.

-The Wakizashi: The shorter model of the katana for close quarters combat inside a house or a castle with less space to maneuver with a katana.

-The Tanto: the samurai dagger, used as the last line of defense also used in the "seppuku" or the suicidal ritual.

-In modern times also many of the schools teach how to defend yourself from guns and some other street weapons.

-Some Schools also teach the use of the Yari (spear), Naginata (curved lance) and the Yumi (bow)

The Katana.

The main weapons for a samurai was the Katana, a really dangerous and yet very important weapon in ancient time. Having a katana was a real honor because caring that weapon was a sign of status, not everyone had the permission to carry or use a katana.

The great samurai used it as an extension of the body, showing really good mastery of the sword and honoring the Bushido or "the code/way of the warrior", they were ruled by that code, trying to make the best use of their skill for their lords and master.

BUSHIDO.

Bushido is integrated by seven articles or principles:

  1. Gi.- Rectitude
  2. Yu.- Courage
  3. Jin.- Benevolence
  4. Rei.-Respect
  5. Makoto.- Honesty
  6. Meiyo.- Honor
  7. Chugi.- Loyalty

The most important principles in Bushido are Meiyo and Chugi, "Honor and Loyalty above all" a samurai sacrifice their life to their Master and lived only to protect him and make him the stronger warlord.

Failing to fulfill this principles the samurai is forced to commit Seppuku, the ceremonial suicide with a Tanto, stabbing themselves in the belly, if the Lord granted them to die with honor, then another samurai or helper would cut his head off ending the suffering as soon as possible, but if the fault was severe then they would slowly bleed and suffer the whole process until death.

The Katana.

The parts of a Katana Sword.
The parts of a Katana Sword. | Source

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Hasuji: Cutting lines

  1. Mae (front)
    Horizontal cut delivered to the chest and then vertically cut down, finishing the attack.
  2. Ushiro (back)
    When feeling a threat in the back then turn counterclockwise, and delivers an horizontal cut to the chest and then vertically cut down, finishing the attack.
  3. Uke nagashi (parry)
    Parrying the attack of the left or right opponent with the shinogi (side of the sword), then make a diagonal downward cut from the opponent's shoulder to his opposite hip.
  4. Tsuki ate (handle)
    Doble attackers. First strike the front enemy in the solar plexus with the hilt of the sword (kashira), turn around and stab the enemy behind you in the chest. Turn back to the front making a vertical strike downward with the initial attacker.
  5. Kesa giri (diagonal cut)
    When the front attacker rises his sword, you make an ascendant diagonal strike from the hip to the shoulder with a doble strike now from the shoulder to the hip in a descendant diagonal strike.
  6. Morote tsuki (2 hand thrust)
    Triple attackers. Two in the front and one behind you. The first attacker must be defeated by a vertical strike to the head before he rises his sword, with a second attack in the chest with a thrust of your sword. The second attacker will receive a full head attack, then turning around to the third attacker and end the combat with a descendant head strike.
  7. Sanpo giri (3 direction)
    Triple attack with a triangle strategy surrounding you. First diagonal descendant attack to the left/right attacker. Next turn around to the opposite opponent and complete a downward attack. To complete the attack, turn to the last enemy and fulfill a downward attack.
  8. Ganmen ate (attack to the face)
    When threaten by a front opponent, you strike him in the forehead (aiming to the eyes) with the sword hilt. Then turn around detecting another attacker, stab him in the chest. Turn around to the initial opponent and finish him with a descendant attack.
  9. Soete tsuki (support hand thrust)
    When the threat is detected, you counterattack with an ascendant diagonal cut in the chest, when the enemy kneels to the front due to the pain of the cut, then stab him with both hands in the stomach or chest. If they kneel to much, they will end offering the head as another option.
  10. Shiho giri (4 directions)
    Surrounded by four attacker. First cut the hands of one of them, turn to the opposite side and stab the attacker in the chest. keep going to the attacker on your left and deliver a ascendant diagonal attack, turn around to the fourth attacker making a descendant cut to the head, turn back to the initial attacker hurt in the hands and finish him with a head strike.

Video.

In the next video uploaded by uskiaikido we can see an English version of an interview with Koichi Kashiwaya, Chief Instructor of Ki Society USA.

He explain several key parts of the Aikido and the way a student must be involved in the art.

Check it out and give Aikido an opportunity to leave you with a good opinion about it.

About the Author.

My name is David ZermeƱo and I'm an Aikido student of 4th kyu and since my 10 years old I have been interested in the Katana craftsmanship and use in combat, also in the spiritual learning of this martial art.

I hope you liked this Hub and feel free to comment in it, it would be good to know your opinion and your feedback and vote up is welcomed to. Also feel free to share this Hub with your friends.

I'll be uploading more hubs about Aikido, Kenjutsu and many other martial arts. Thanks for reading.

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