There are people still who claim that shinai is only a bamboo stick, and they see nothing wrong on considering kendo on a solely ludic level. If you consider shinai that way, it will remain a stick...

Is kendo swordsmanship?

Kendo is a budo. When a shinai is held with the very same feeling as if it were a real sword, kendo becomes a budo.
Niibori sensei, hachidan hanshi
This question is essential for proper understanding of kendo origins and personally I do believe – kendo is kenjutsu in the essence. It is, in reality, difficult to draw a clear and objective border between kendo and kenjutsu. Swordsmanship is an essential part of kendo, after all kendo seeks to teach the principles of a sword. On the other hand, the pursuit of swordsmanship within kendo has the purpose of improving one’s heart and spirit rather than teaching how to win a sword fight. Nonetheless, understanding kendo as a sport, a wellness or a competitive practice alone is an incomplete view.
The question of the relationship between kendo and swordsmanship does sometimes arise among kenshi (fencer), even in a way to question the legitimacy and value of kendo practice comparing to the one of a real sword. Often, this goes even deeply to the point when it is mistakenly alleged that kendo is only a competitive sport, and that kenjutsu is the “real deal”

I will try to make things clearer focusing on the history of kendo and some of its essential aspects. This article incorporates some portions of work by well-known budo historians (really appreciated!), such as prof. Murayama Kinji (Shiga University), prof. Enomoto Shōji (Nanzan University), prof. Nagao Susumu (Meiji University), prof. Toshinobu Sakai (Tsukuba University), prof. Alexander Bennett (Kansai University) and others. Since I am not a kendo history Ph.D. myself nor I am a historian by trade, I am just a simple kenshi trying to make my way through the kendo universe, so please go easy on me.

Formation of ryūha

The origins of kendo lie within koryu kenjutsu. Kenjutsu simply means “swordsmanship”. It was a method of teaching swordsmanship in feudal Japan. In early modern times (1600‒1868), the predominant martial art was kenjutsu. Initially, kenjutsu existed as koryu at ancient fencing schools that practiced traditional martial arts (ryūha). Many still exist today.
There were three conditions needed to establish a ryūha:
  • Appearance of a prodigious individual,
  • One who possesses incredibly advanced techniques, and
  • One who has systemised his techniques and teachings into a distinct curriculum.
With the appearance of extraordinarily skilled men in martial arts, other warriors inevitably wanted to learn from them. One important particularity in bujutsu (vanilla martial arts) was its secretiveness. When a warrior mastered an essential point, he rarely taught it to others. In turbulent times, fame and fortune could be decided by a secret technique that nobody else knew. If the technique was taught and spread, then the potency of the warrior who possessed it vanished, or even worse, he could even be slain by his own technique. The world of warriors was harsh!
However, when the chaos of the Warring States period subsided, a few renowned warriors started to welcome disciples. Groups known as ryūha were formed by master swordsmen where they taught their skills and knowledge to select disciples.

Whether or not the techniques and teachings were systemised into a succinct curriculum had a big impact on the future prosperity or even survival of the ryūha. Regardless of the sublime degree of technical excellence the master swordsman possessed, if there was no comprehensive curriculum the school was doomed to vanish.

Among the many ryūha that evolved, the earliest to appear at the beginning of the fourteenth century focused on archery. Kenjutsu, jūjutsu (grappling) or sōjutsu (spearmanship) curricula appeared around the second half of the fifteenth century, but it was not until the middle of the sixteenth century that specific ryūha related to individual disciplines were established.

Iizasa Chōisai Ienao
There were three main lineages, each of which originated with the respective master swordsman Aisu Ikō, Iizasa Chōisai, and Chūjō Hyōgo-no-kami, around the end of the Middle Ages.

Kage-ryū was founded by Aisu Ikō. Kamiizumi Ise-no-kami studied the Kage-ryū, and then created the Shinkage-ryū or “New” Kage-ryū. The Yagyū family inherited the Kage-ryū when Yagyū Muneyoshi, who had challenged and been defeated by Kamiizumi, started to study the tradition. It is generally referred to as the Yagyū Shinkage-ryū or the Shinkage Yagyū-ryū, but the official name is simply Shinkage-ryū. The fifth son of Muneyoshi, Yagyū Munenori, became the head of the school in Edo.
In 1594, Muneyoshi demonstrated his techniques at the request of Tokugawa Ieyasu. [Ieyasu carried out the unification of the whole country and started the Edo Bakufu in 1603, and is thus a very important figure in the Japanese history.] It is said that Muneyoshi fought against Ieyasu who was using a wooden sword. Ieyasu was in admiration of the secret technique of the Shinkage-ryū called the «mutōdori» (taking the sword of the opponent), and asked Muneyoshi to accept him as his disciple. However, Muneyoshi refused, saying that he was too old, and proposed that his son Munenori become instructor to the Shogun instead.

Yagyū Munenori「柳生宗矩」
1571 – May 11, 1646
Munenori became an important officer of the shogunate, and eventually reached the level of daimyō (a lord). It could be said that Yagyū were the most successful fencing dynasty of the time. The lineage of Aisu Ikōsai’s Kage-ryū, Kamiizumi Ise-no-kami’s Shinkage-ryū, and Yagyū Muneyoshi and Munenori’s Yagyū Shinkage-ryū developed a special place within the political environment, and was the most prominent of the three.
Iizasa Chōisai was the founder of the Shintō-ryū, which has a deep connection with the Katori Shrine. There was also another tradition called “Kashima-no-Tachi” that developed in the Kashima Shrine in ancient times. Priests in Kashima studied and transmitted the Kashima-no-Tachi, under different names according to the period, either as Kashima Jōko-ryū or Kashima Chūko-ryū.

The famous master Tsukahara Bokuden was born in the Yoshikawa family who were custodians of the Kashima shrine. Bokuden was raised there and studied the Kashima-no-Tachi. As the second son of the family, he was soon adopted by the Tsukahara family, and learnt the Shintō-ryū from his foster father. He then created a new ryūha by mixing the Shintō-ryū with the techniques transmitted in Kashima. This ryūha was called the (Kashima) Shintō-ryū but used different kanji. Tsukahara Bokuden’s Shintō-ryū developed a strong connection with Shintoism in a highly religious environment.

Tsukahara Bokuden「塚原卜伝」
1489 – March 6, 1571
Chūjō Hyōgo-no-kami Nagahide founded the Chūjō-ryū. Itō Ittōsai inherited the tradition and established the Ittō-ryū. Among the Ittōsai’s students was Mikogami Tenzen Tadaaki who later changed his name to Ono Jirōemon Tadaaki and succeeded his master as the head of the Ittō-ryū. The Ono-ha Ittō-ryū became a school adopted by the shogunate alongside the Shinkage-ryū. Ono Tadaaki did not reach the same position in the administration as Yagyū Munenori did, but the Ittō-ryū flourished considerably throughout the Edo period. This lineage starting with Chūjō Hyōgo-no-kami’s Chūjō-ryū, Itō Ittōsai’s Ittō-ryū and finally the Ono-ha Ittō-ryū, was not only one of the three big traditions that burgeoned during the early modern times, but also had the most influence on the techniques now seen in modern kendo.


Until the middle of Edo period, kenjutsu training was centred on pre-arranged forms named kata. However, training through kata led to a move away from actual combat and practical techniques, and some martial artists started to question this method. This provided the impetus for the development of bōgu (or kendōgu) and shinai. Fukuro-shinai was invented by Kamiizumi Nobutsuna of Shinkage-ryu during the XVI century, whereas nowadays yotsuwara-shinai was assembled much later somewhere in 1750. Somewhere between 1701 and 1715, Naganuma Shirōzaemon established a training method of kenjutsu using shinai and bogu within Jikishinkage-ryu (a descendant of Shinkage-ryu). These events are deemed the “direct origin” of the present-day kendo discipline, according to the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei.
With this new equipment it became possible to spar freely in bouts in a method called “shinai-uchikomi-keiko”. At the beginning, the shinai was called fukuro-shinai, and was made of a bamboo rod finely split at its point, and covered by a leather pouch. Concerning the history of kendōgu, many aspects remain unclear, but it is said that around the Enpō period (1673‒1681) various ryūha were already using some pieces of protective equipment. Furthermore, around the Shōtoku period (1711‒1716), Naganuma Shirōzaemon Kunisato of the Jikishinkage-ryū used a set made up of men, kote, and tare; and during the Hōreki period (1751‒1764), Nakanishi Chūzō Tsugutake started using such equipment in the Ittō-ryū. The use of bōgu started to spread rapidly. Kendōgu as we know it now was completed around the Tenpō period (1830‒1844) after several improvements.
Shinai-uchikomi kenjutsu soon prospered. It became very popular due to the possibility of sparring freely, which instigated the rise of competitiveness in swordsmanship. Also, because of the degree of safety conferred by kendōgu, the ban on long-prohibited taryū-jiai (duels between different schools) was lifted, and the desire for competitive exchanges between ryūha became greater. As taryū-jiai used to be performed with live blades or wooden swords, serious injury or death was commonplace, and the Bakufu forbade it out of concern for reprisals.  It became more widespread as a result, because of the safety of using shinai and protective equipment.

Eventually, most kenjutsu schools of Edo started using shinai and bogu in their training.
It was from around this time that the men strike became the most coveted target for its decisiveness – an attitude that is still prevalent in modern kendo.
Alexander Bennet, “Kendo – Culture of the sword”
From the middle to the end of the Edo period, ryūha that excelled in shinai-uchikomi-kenjutsu were the most prosperous; among them were the Shingyōtō-ryū founded by Iba Zesuiken Hideaki, the Nakanishi-ha Ittō-ryū founded by Nakanishi Chūta Tanesada, Chiba Shūsaku Shigemasa’s Hokushin Ittō-ryū, Kogen Ittō-ryū created by Henmi Tashirō Yoshitoshi, Fukui Heiuemon Kahei’s Shintō Munen-ryū, the Jikishinkage-ryū developed by Yamada Heizaemon Mitsunori, and Momonoi Hachirōzaemon Naoyoshi’s Kyōshin Meichi-ryū.
From 1830 to 1860, many fencing salons opened in Edo. Martial arts, including kenjutsu, were originally practised by bushi only, but this rule started to weaken in the nineteenth century so that the common classes were also able to participate. Lower-ranked bushi with small income, or people not from the warrior class started to learn kenjutsu, and then taught it to make a living in what are called “machidōjō” or town dōjō. In Edo, there were three great machidōjō at the time.

Chiba Shūsaku’s imprints
Chiba Shūsaku’s Genbukan is said to have had 3600 disciples, and among them some very famous swordsmen. Chiba Shūsaku studied the Nakanishi-ha Ittō-ryū and then he created his own style, the Hokushin Ittō-ryū. He was a massive influence in the formation of techniques that are used in modern kendo. Chiba Shusakuwrote the “Jikiden Kenjutsu Meijin-Ho”, a collection of 68 kenjutsu techniques later becoming a basis for kendo. All techniques revolve around targets of men, kote, do, and tsuki, as well as renzoku-waza.
Saitō Yakurō’s Renpeikan was also one of the three great dojos. Saitō was a master of the Shintō Munen-ryū, and among his students were men who would become instrumental in the Meiji Restoration, like Takasugi Shinsaku and Katsura Kogorō.

Momonoi Sunzō Naomasa’s Shigakukan was the third significant fencing salon. Momonoi was from the Kyōshin Meichi-ryū. The Genbukan, the Renpeikan and the Shigakukan were thus considered to be the three great fencing salons of Edo. It is said that Chiba Shūsaku possessed sublime technique, Saitō Yakurō had immense power, and Momonoi Sunzō was extremely elegant. Also, the Otani dojo, run by Otani Seiichirō (who would later become kenjutsu instructor for the Kōbusho) from the Jikishinkage-ryū was very famous at the time.

Takasugi Shinsaku「高杉晋作」
September 27, 1839 – May 17, 1867

Spread of shinai-kenjutsu techniques

The latter Edo period saw an intensification of research and systemisation of techniques for shinai-kenjutsu. As I have already mentioned, the use of kendogu (bōgu) in keiko can be traced back to the mid-1600s; however, these were extremely simplistic kinds of safety equipment, exclusive to various sword schools. In the latter half of the 1700s, warriors began to travel far and wide for the purpose of engaging in taryū-jiai. When the ban was lifted on taryū-jiai in the Tenpō era (1830–1844), this facilitated rapid progression of kendogu and the exchange of techniques and information.

In the Tenpō era, the text Shindō Munen-ryū Kenjutsu Kokoroe-sho” by Mutō Shichinosuke, a rural samuraifrom Sukegawa (Hitachi) and head kenjutsu instructor at a Mito domain’s school, gives a detailed description of the characteristic techniques and approaches of the Ittō-ryū (Nakanishi-ha), Jikishinkage-ryū, Kyōshin Meichi-ryū, Ryūgō-ryū, (Higo) Shinkage-ryū, Yoshitsune-ryū, and Asayama Ichiden-ryū, from the perspective of the Shindō Munen-ryū. For instance: “One trait of the Ittō-ryū is to hold the shinai in the gedan position, thrust upwards to the chest and towards the men [tsuki], cut left or right kote, and at dō.” Therefore, he suggests, in response to this “One must launch an attack prior to the opponent, and from kote, strike men. One’s attack will thereby be faster than the opponent’s tsuki.” Another approach was also suggested. “When standing ready for the engagement [tachi-ai position], do not think about tsuki. Both thrusts and cuts are the same for everyone. If you think of tsuki, you will become unbalanced and you will lose.”
Furthermore, concerning the traits of the Kyōshin Meichi-ryū he observed that the opponent “will put the left foot out in front and take jōdan. From this position, either men or kote will be attacked. Attacks from jōdan will be quick like lightning.” In response to these fast attacks from hidari-jōdan, he suggests that one should “Create a long distance from the opponent, so when he attacks the head target, it will be possible to stop the cut completely and attack the opponent’s lower left side.” Or, “When the opponent attacks the right kote, one should block and counter by striking from right kote up to the head.” These strategies are still applicable in modern kendo, and it can be said that the roots of modern-day kendo actually stem from this era.
In “Shindō Munen-ryū Kenjutsu Kokoroe-sho”, there is mention of the exclusive use of jōdan and the quick movements generated from the position of “uki-ashi” (standing on the balls of one’s feet) that was characteristic of the Jikishinkage-ryū. According to the book “Kenjutsu Meijin-hō”, it indicates that this is “Becoming obsolete as the number of people who take jōdan is decreasing, and the gedanseigan stance of the Ittō-ryū is growing in popularity.” Therefore, in the Kōka and Kaei periods, one can see a decline in the differences between kenjutsu schools, and the beginning of a standardisation process of techniques based on shinai-uchi (strikes with the shinai). Further, with the ban on taryū-jiai lifted, shūgyōand shinai-kenjutsu increased in popularity, and greatly contributed to the exchange and dissemination of knowledge regarding techniques and armour.

However, the foregoing was only the beginning of the overall shift. In mid XIX century Japan was opened to the world by force, resulting in unequal reaction of creating Kōbusho in order to commence preparing Japan to a potential war. Approximately five hundred fencing instructors from different schools were hired. This event born an early standardised form of kenjutsu at Kōbusho.

Creation of Kōbusho

During the Edo period, the Tokugawa shogunate severed all relationships with foreign countries except on rare occasions. It was a period of peace for more than 260 years with almost no civil strife to speak of. Therefore, the martial arts matured into a culture comprising of both facets of character building and competition. However, at the end of the shogunate with the arrival of Perry’s America East India fleet, the re-opening of the country drew near as pressure from foreign powers became stronger. The shogunate sensed an impending crisis and started to reform its military system. Kōbusho, a place for bujutsu training, was established to bolster Japan’s military preparedness.

Kōbusho primarily emphasised kenjutsu, sōjutsu, and gunnery as necessary training for a battlefield. The training in gunnery was based on Western artillery, whereas kenjutsu and sōjutsu revolved exclusively around competitive training. Instructors were not selected through lineage but their skill in martial arts. For example, Otani Seiichirō from the Jikishinkage-ryū and Kubota Sugane from Tamiya-ryū Iai Kenjutsu were selected as instructors, whereas the Shogun’s instructors from the Yagyū family or the Ono family were not appointed.

Generally, Kōbusho was influenced by Jikishinkage-ryu and various forms of Itto-ryu and the 68 techniques of Chiba Shusaku. Following competition rules, bogu and shinai of size. Kōbusho also assigned ranks to successful kenshi based solely on their success in shiai (match) rather than mastery of a koryu.

Otani, as the head of Kōbusho’s kenjutsu department, decided to regulate the length of the shinai (this was a step towards “sportification”) to approximately 117 cm (38 size). The idea was to keep the length close to a real Japanese sword (about 100 cm), but with a slightly longer tsuka in order to grip the shinai more easily when wearing kote. It was regarded as the perfect length for actual fighting, and expected good training results with the regulated length and weight.

Because the training at Kōbusho was focussed solely on shiai, barriers between the different ryūha gradually vanished and exchanges between exponents from the same ryūha increased. This can be considered as an important step towards the unification of kenjutsu after the Meiji Restoration (1868). Nevertheless, Tokugawa shogunate’s efforts were in vain: the shogunate collapsed with the Meiji Restoration, and Japan entered the modern era.

Personally, I would consider those events the beginning of kendo. Unification of koryu kenjutsu resulted in future standardisation. It could be argued that even nowadays kendo is still not fully standardised, though.

Public fencing shows

Gekiken Kōgyō — 撃剣
As per Meiji government policy, the term “gekiken” started being used to refer to kenjutsu itself. That term literally means “shocks/strikes between swords”.
Sometime later, in 1871, a few years after the Meiji Restoration, feudal domains were abolished and new prefectures were established instead. Bushi (warrior), who used to receive stipends from the domain they belonged to, found themselves without employment and income. Said bushi, bearers of martial traditions, thus disappeared with the feudal system of Tokugawa shogunate – “warrior–farmer–artisan–merchant”. Also, in 1876 the “haitōrei” edict was promulgated, and carrying swords in public, the symbol of the bushi class, became prohibited. Kenjutsu, which had been the predominant martial art was no longer deemed viable. Modern weapons and tactics devised by Western countries were imported, and traditional Japanese martial arts became obsolete. Thus, Japanese martial arts faced a major crisis for survival.
In order to save the martial arts from the crisis, Sakakibara Kenkichi, a hatamoto and former kenjutsu instructor at the Kōbusho, came up with the unique idea of turning kenjutsu into a money-making show. The plan was to gather paying spectators to watch fencing matches. The matches were organised along the line so of sumo tournaments with an arena bordered by four pillars. Contestants were divided into east and west teams; the announcer called the players and commenced their bouts in the middle of the ring.

The first gekiken kōgyō show was held on April 11, 1873, for ten days, and was heralded as a great success. Until then, ordinary people rarely had the opportunity to see kenjutsu bouts, and now they could by simply paying an entrance fee. Moreover, the competitors were famous swordsmen of the day, which proved to be a major drawing card for the curious public.

Sakakibara Kenkichi 「榊原鍵吉」
December 19, 1830 – September 11, 1894

Gekiken Manual
Around 1876 in central Tokyo alone there were twenty locations holding gekiken kōgyō events. However, in order to attract more people to the shows, acrobatic techniques started to be used, dramas were also introduced, and as a result, their popularity slowly faded away.

Sakakibara Kenkichi’s gekiken kōgyō had its merits and problems: As for the merits, it permitted swordsmen who were unemployed to make a living again; it saved traditional kenjutsu from extinction; and introduced kenjutsu on a wide scale to commoners. As for the problematic areas, it transformed kenjutsu, which was symbolic of the pride of the bushi, into a show—making it sink in peoples’ estimation, and it distorted the essence of kenjutsu techniques.

Kenjutsu turning into kendo

Kawaji Toshiyoshi (1834–1879) a samurai and the head of the police also wished to promote the practice of standardised gekiken for the policemen. He established Battotai, a sword-bearing police force enrolled of samurai who practiced gekiken with a special set of kata (formalised pattern). Battotai achieved great success during the battle of Tabaruzaka.

Following the success at that battle, gekiken had become the main training method for Keishicho (Tokyo Metropolitan Police). A set of kata “Keishicho Gekiken Kata” was created especially for the police. They also started using the present-day size 39 shinai. Gekiken had also started to be taught in schools. The first kata created to be taught in schools was “Gogyo no Kata” invented by Takano Sasaburo (kendo hanshi – Hokushin Itto Ryu master, 1862–1950). Gogyo no Kata has still been practiced at the kendo dojo of Tsukuba university.
Tendo-ryu keiko at Dai Nippon Butoku Kai grounds 「大日本武徳会」
In 1895, Dai-Nippon Butokukai (Martial Virtue Society) was established aiming to unify and promote Japanese martial arts with one of its branches standardising gekiken. In order to complete standardisation, a unified set of kata should have been created. A set of three kata – “Butokukai Kenjutsu Kata” was created in 1906. However, those kata had little of success during implementation and disappeared eventually.

Jigoro Kano, a member of Butokukai and the founder of judo suggested to include gekiken into Japanese school education system, which was achieved in 1910. In 1911, the Japanese Ministry of Educationalong with Takano Sasaburo, Negishi Shingoro, Kimura Nobuhide (Jikishinkage-ryū) and ten other kenjutsu experts created another set of three kata.

Takano Sasaburo and Nakayama Hakudo preforming kendo kata.
This led to a formation of Butokukai comittee of twenty kenjutsu experts, including Takano Sasaburo and Nakayama Hakudo (kendo, iaido and jodohanshi, the founder of Musō Shinden-ryū) aiming to create seven more kata. The kata created by the Ministry of Education are the first three modern kata. The kata of Butokukai are the last seven ones. As the result the official, standardised set of ten kata was adopted for gekiken-kenjutsu; “Nihon Kendo Kata”.

The teaching method of kenjutsu had also been standardising by Takano Sasaburo, Nakayama Hakudo and Kimura Nobuhide. With the standardised teaching method, kendo as we know it essentially reached its current shape but was still called kenjutsu. In 1919, Nishikubo Hiromichi suggested changing the term of kenjutsu to kendo. Seven years later, in 1926 the Ministry of Education decided to officially rename kenjutsu as kendo. This applied to changes in naming only, whereas the practice remained identical.
To understand the foregoing a bit we should refer to the writings of Noma Hisashi (the first from the left), one of the youngest kyoshi nanadan who lived between 1910 and 1939 (April 24,1910 – November 7, 1939). He wrote “Kendo Tokuhon” in which he explains the philosophy, and the techniques of kendo. We can see, through his words, how he conceives kendo.

Nowadays, apart from the unique situations that arise in times of war, there are almost no opportunities for us to cross swords in mortal combat. In place of the sword there are now more advanced and efficient weapons available. Consequently, to say that the aim of kendo is “to destroy the enemy and to protect oneself” is naturally going to invite ridicule for such an outmoded idea.

No, within kendo there is something to be sought of much greater value, something of profound spiritual significance. But to learn of this significance one cannot bypass the original function of Kendo as Bujutsu i.e. “to destroy the enemy and protect oneself”. It is only through a deadly earnest razor-edged course of Kendo training that one can truly experience the lofty way towards spiritual understanding.

To class kendo as merely another form of physical exercise is to view it as another form of sport and to that I think is to miss the mark completely.
Noma Hisashi, kendo nanadan kyoshi
We can see that even in pre-war kendo, it wasn’t aimed on winning a sword-fight, but to reach something beyond, and through, searching to improve oneself. Yet swordsmanship is deemed as the essential part of kendo. In the path of reaching spiritual understanding, it is necessary to be remindful of the idea of bujutsu, of life and death in kendo. Noma Hisashi also reminds us that the rules of ippon in kendo were created based on those of an effective cut with a sword.
In the case of real combat of course it would not matter where one struck or thrust in order to kill the opponent, but for convenience and safety during keiko only the above-mentioned areas may be attacked [datotsu-bui].

The purpose of cutting is to kill the enemy, and although there is no absolute rule that insists one should have to strike either here or there, a strike when made should conform to the following:

It must be sufficient to cut as if one is using a real sword [cae and hasuji]. Upon striking one must remain in control of one’s stance and posture [shisei and ki-ken-tai ichi]. Also, upon striking, a position must be taken from which, if necessary, a further cut or reply can be made freely and immediately [zanshin].
Noma Hisashi, kendo nanadan kyoshi
These conventions, Noma kyoshi was preaching about, didn’t just appear in modern kendo out of nowhere. They had been developing for centuries by various ryūha just to give kenshi opportunity of testing oneself and each other. It became an incitement for future formation of kendo-specific techniques that appeared limited comparing to the great arsenal of kenjutsu. However, this limitation is only visual, thus, for better understanding we should look into different crucial aspects of development of kendo techniques.
kendo, naginata, gekiken

Formation of fumikomi-ashi

In the final analysis it is yūkō-datotsu (ippon), a valid strike, that forms the core of the movement culture of kendo. The current “Regulations of Kendo Shiai and Shinpan” states that a yūkō-datotsu is defined as:
An accurate striking or thrusting made to appropriate target area with the datotsu-bui of the shinai on its correct cutting edge, with full and complete kisei [spirit and positive voice], the right posture, and zanshin [mental and physical alertness; positive follow through of attack and strike].
The Official Guide for Kendo Instruction
Also, within the setting of kendo instruction, there are many who teach the idea that a strike with “ki-ken-tai-itchi” or the unison of spirit (ki),sword (ken), and body (tai) constitutes a valid strike. This concept explains ‘ki’ as referent to vitality, ‘ken’ as the movement of the shinai, and ‘tai’as the movements of the body and correct posture. When these elements are completed with appropriate timing in one motion, they meet the requirements of yūkō-datotsu.

This section will place more focus on the elements of ‘ken’ (the movements / management of the shinai), and ‘tai’ (posture as it relates to footwork and body movements).
In the text “Yōshōnen Kendō Shidō Yōryo” (Kendo Guidebook for Instructing Children), precursor to the “Official Guide for Kendo Instruction”, the explanation of ki-ken-tai-itchi describes the element of ‘tai’ as “a posture that incorporates the stamping of the foot with a stable lower back”. This action of ‘stamping the foot’ or fumikomu may indeed be considered a movement unique to kendo. Certainly, in the kata of classical sword schools, partial and momentarily movements of stamping the feet can be seen, however, generally these kata consist of sliding footwork such as ayumi-ashi, okuri-ashi, and hiraki-ashi. Therefore, beginning with an emphasis on this stamping action, I will analyse how this method of footwork developed throughout the history of kendo, to become a recognised part of its modus operandi.
With thought to the way in which a beginner is taught how to strike shōmen-uchi to the head, it is common in the early stages for one to be directed to perform okuri-ashi whilst practising suburi and kihon-uchi. It is only after reaching a higher level of proficiency in this exercise, that a beginner is instructed to strike with fumikomi-ashi. Nevertheless, different to the okuri-ashi step, fumikomi-ashi is ordinarily accompanied by “yosei” (surplus power / momentum / continuing forward after making the strike). Although I can think of some instructors who teach fumikomi-ashi in a way that does not harness yosei, the reality is that in shiai attacks that are accompanied by this subsequent momentum are recognised as having zanshin and are considered to be yūkō-datotsu. Moreover, it is also seen in promotion examinations for higher grades. This suggests that among the many people who participate in kendo, yosei is deemed as inertia that results from fumikomi-ashi, and as such, is accepted as a somewhat inevitable part of kendo technique.
Today’s popularised style of kendo...
However, acknowledgement of yosei as a part of kendo technique is comparatively recent. It was around the beginning of the Showa period (1926‒1989) that discussion took place regarding yosei that accompanied fumikomi-ashi. Nakayama Hakudō hanshi (1872‒1958) commented that:
Even if one were to make an attack with a tachi [sword] in the method of today’s popularised style of kendo, he would simply strike with his hands and his body would not be stable during the ensuing two or three steps. What would happen if one tried this on a boat? Even if one toppled his opponent, he himself would also fall into the water. One must only move the necessary amount and strike from issoku-ittō [one step, one strike distance].
Keio University magazine, Tsurugi, Volume 6, 1934

Nakayama Hakudo
February 11, 1872 – December 14, 1958
Thus, according to the opinion of an expert in the techniques of the nihon-tō such as Nakayama hanshi, there was a clear rejection of the yosei.

Nevertheless, the yosei that comes with fumikomi-ashi had become common place in shiai and keiko settings from this time. Among the graduates of the Tokyo Higher Normal School (precursor to the Tsukuba University) where Takanō Sasaburō hanshi taught, yosei was encouraged, and there were even those who attempted to apply a theoretical understanding to it. In the book “Kendō-gaku” (1924) authored by Kaneko Kinji, fumikomi-ashi was termed “fumikiri” and diagrams and pictures were used to describe the idea in detail. Also, in Tominaga Kengo’s work titled “Mottomo Jissaiteki-na Gakusei Kendō no Iki” (1925), it states that in the process of norikomi-men: “One should throw concern for one’s body aside, and from the position of a one sword distance, execute attacks that dominate the opponent… at the same time as swinging the sword up, one should leap forward a step to enter into a close interval… and by doing this, utilise yosei with the feeling of pushing the opponent over.” This text clearly affirms the idea of fumikomi-ashi resulting in yosei.
The matter of fumikomi-ashi becoming a fixture of kendo technique and the resulting yosei inertia becoming an accepted component mentioned in the texts of the Taisho era was due to the fact that this footwork was common practice in the kendo of the day, necessitating the application of a theory to such a routine. So, when did techniques centred around attacks with stamping and the subsequent momentum of yosei actually began to appear? To answer this question, we must first look at the development of kenjutsu’s use of kendōgu (bōgu).
Based on historical documents, it is clear that around the 1660s armour known as “kawagusoku” (armour made of hide) and “men’ago” was worn during training in some sword schools [ – Nakamura Tamio, “Kendō-gu to Dōjō no Hattatsu” in “Kendō no Rekishi”]. During the Shōtoku years (1711‒1716) in the Kanto region, the Jikishinkage-ryū made various improvements to the armour, and during the Hōreki era (1751‒1764), the Nakanishi-ha Ittō-ryū adopted its usage. From here, the number of sword schools to utilise kendogu (particularly men and kote) in trainings and shiai continued to increase, and by the end of the 1700s, armour was seen nationwide.
However, in the book “Dai-Nippon Kendō-shi” (1934) by Hori Shōhei regarding kenjutsuup to this point, it states that: “One would hold the approximately 3-shaku 3-zun [approx. of 1 m] long fukuro-shinai, and move in a usual walking manner [similar to today’s kata]. That is, it was normal to move forward and cut by walking from right to left to right, or from left to right.”
After this in the Tempō era, Ōishi Susumu, a kenjustuand sōjutsu master of the Chikugo Yanagawa domain, wielded a 5-shaku 3-zun (approx. 161 cm) long shinai as he travelled around various dōjō during his two stints in Edo (1833 and 1839). As a result of his influence, usage of longer shinai spread rapidly. Furthermore, when the handle of the shinai was less than 8-sun (approx. 24 cm) in length, it was suitable to move in the usual walking manner. However, with the change to the longer shinai, the handle was lengthened to about 1-shaku 3-zun (approx. 39 cm). Thus, to move about by walking, kamae would also likely to become unsettled. As this was difficult to control, the method of movement such as that used in kata was replaced with footwork moving the right and left feet in a shuffling or skipping manner. The footwork of today stems from this, and in comparison, to the footwork of older times it is more suitable for faster movements on wooden floors – as it is harder to gain momentum and difficult to move a lot on dirt in this way. With this, okuri-ashi in kenjutsu became prevalent, and as Hori hanshi adds, this brought about the formation of “kenjutsu on wooden floors” and the distinctive footwork of gekiken.
Unfortunately, the exact source from which Hori hanshi bases the grounds for his account is not clearly specified. However, within the anecdotes of Otani Seiichiryō (of the Jikishinkage-ryū) who is said to have defeated Ōishi, as well as the Bujutsu Zatsuwa, it suggested that: “It has become customary in keiko of recent years to utilise longer shinai, and there are more and more people wielding a shinai that are thinner than before, is 3-shaku 6-7-zun [approx. 109‒112cm] from tip to tsuba, and including the length of the handle making it 5-shaku [approx. 152cm] or over. In keiko, opportunities for victory with the longer sword are plenty… real swords are heavier, and it is exceedingly difficult to wield them as one does a shinai.” As this passage suggests, it is clear that the popularisation of the longer shinai was one of the predominant causes in the development of the unique techniques in gekiken that differed to those of traditional kenjutsu. [ – Enomoto Shōji, “Bakumatsu Kendō ni Okeru Nijūteki Seikaku no Keisei Katei” in Nihon Budō-gaku Kenkyū]
In the Tenpō era (1830‒1844), Mizuno Tadakuni, a member of the shōgun’s council of elders, sought to loosen the ban on taryū-jiai in order to promote the concept of bun-bu or balanced study of literary and military arts. From thereon, taryū-jiai were openly and formally conducted (Ōishi’s taryū-jiai also provided a setting for this), and various clans started holding formal contests within their residences in Edo. In the fourth year of Kaei (1851), Kurume warrior, Mutō Tamekichi, sent a letter to his teacher Katō Tahachirō about a particular shiai held at the Tōdōdomain’s Edo residence. In it he relays that an appraisal of Chiba Shūsaku’s (Hokushin Ittō-ryū) second son, Eijirō:
Switching between all kamae, including jōdan, chūdan, gedan and seigan, in the match he would strike and thrust with fumikomi. His attacks were made with godlike speed, but very gently in a precise manner of his own…
Murayama Kinji, “Suzuka Kazō, Katōdaden-sho [Kendō Hishiki]”
Furthermore, spanning the Kōka period until the Kaei period (1844‒1854), Kōzaka Masataka from Himeji domain, a disciple of Chiba Shūsaku, made numerous references to fumikomi and tobikomi in his text “Chiba Shūsaku-sensei Chokuden Kenjutsu Meijin-hō”. In the Hokushin Ittōryū of the bakumatsu (towards the end of the Tokugawa period), it was acknowledged that this ‘godlike speed’ could be achieved with fumikomi and tobikomi actions.

These ideas were established for various reasons, and to enhance our understanding it is useful to take a closer look at the content of “Chiba Shūsaku-sensei Chokuden Kenjutsu Meijin-hō”. In chapter three of the book, “The Pursuit of Knowledge of Kenjutsu”, it states that:
When striking at the opponent’s men from ai-gedan or ai-seigan”, it is suggested that as it is exceedingly difficult to ignore the rise and fall movements of the opponent’s sword, “one should strike as soon as the opponent’s sword-tip lowers.” Furthermore, as the opponent positions himself to thrust or cut, he will make an attack as soon as one makes a large swing. Therefore, it is advised that one should be ready to attack at the midpoint of the upswing. Of course, it is ideal to attack with fumikomi deep into the distance of issoku-ittō [one-step, one-sword interval].

Naitō Takaharu
1862 ‒ 1929
The reason it is suggested to move deep into the issoku-ittō distance with fumikomi is because when frightened of the opponent’s sword one tends to execute attacks in a hesitant manner, and it is likely to be countered with a thrust (such as men-nuki-tsuki). So, stepping right in close with fumikomi and attacking, will deprive the opponent of an opportunity to thrust. One should test this idea. As the poem articulates: “Below the crossed swords is hell; but stepping in with fumikomi one is able to see paradise.” Thus, discarding one’s doubts and attacking from issoku-ittō is imperative!In other words,by leaving behind uncertainty, and leaping in with a men attack (with half of an upswing) from the issoku-ittō distance, one can be subduing the opponent’s sword and thrusting techniques. This is clearly linked to instructional theories of modern kendo.

This line of thinking from the Hokushin Ittō-ryū continued on into the modern period. Naitō Takaharu hanshi, a professor at the Budō Senmon Gakkō (a prestigious pre-war vocational school for martial art teachers), stated:
Students just want to strike dō. This is not good. Dō is the easiest target to strike. The most difficult target is the opponent’s men. To strike it successfully, one must sacrifice his body.
“Kendō Shugyō ni Tsuite no Kokoe”, Butoku Kaishi 9, 1910
In other words, spanning from the bakumatsu era until modern times, the value of not fearing the opponent’s kissaki or thrusts, and attacking with absolute conviction, and using fumikomi to strike men became the ideal.

Attacking men with conviction and fumikomi would result in yosei. There was some opposition from the standpoint of actual sword use. Nevertheless, fumikomi-ashi became established as a positive formula for kendo technique, and efforts to seek agreement concerning thoughts on yosei emerged from the Taishō period. Discussions regarding this matter continues to this day with a certain degree of disagreement…

Even within the ZNKR’s official seminar textbook “Kendō Kōshūkai Shiryō”, it states that ultimately the four basic footwork patterns in kendo are ayumi-ashi, okuri-ashi, hiraki-ashi, and tsugi-ashi. However, based on the fact usage of fumikomi-ashi in modern kendois widespread, instruction of fumikomi footwork at beginner level is acknowledged as a product of okuri-ashi. Also, for the higher levels of junior ranks, excessively strong fumikomi-ashi is cautioned against, and mastery of okuri-ashi and/or hiraki-ashi is encouraged to facilitate a variety of ōji-waza. Underpinning this understanding and the footwork used when striking is the accepted ideal that one should “strike from the issoku-ittō interval”.

With these considerations in mind, what is the best way to consider the issue of yosei? With regards to fumikomi-ashi and yosei,the late Komorizono Masao hanshi taught that:
If one stamps with the right foot when striking, and quickly draws the left foot up behind it, body posture will become completely consolidated, and from there, yosei will allow one to move forward with okuri-ashi. Moving forward with the okuri-ashi footwork is done in a tapering ‘one-step, half-step, quarter-step’ manner.
Ōya Minoru, Reidan Jichi
In this teaching, significance is placed on the “body posture becoming completely consolidated” by quickly drawing up the left foot – and from the resulting okuri-ashi steps performed in the controlled sequence, a minimum amount of yosei is necessary to face the next challenge from an opponent.

This method of instruction was imparted to Komorizonosenseiby instructors of the Kansai region (according to Ōya). I believe that it is something that should be pondered when observing the unnecessary yosei movements and unnatural forms of zanshin found in some parts of shiai today.
kendo, naginata, gekiken

Value of men technique

In kendo, men technique (particularly shōmen-uchi) is held in high regard. For instance, of the various types of suburi the most commonly conducted strike is that of shōmen-uchi. Furthermore, it is common practice in kirikaeshi to include a shōmen-uchi at the beginning, middle, and end of the exercise. It is even common to see a men-uchi as the final strike in gokaku-geiko. How was it that so much importance came to be placed on men technique?

According to the regulations of modern shiai, there is no special ranking placed on any of the four targets of men, kote, , or tsuki. However, as far as the shimpan of the early Shōwa period were concerned, men techniques were more highly regarded than the other targets. In 1929, the text “Budō Hōkan”, published in commemoration of the tenran-shiai (a competition held in the presence of the emperor), makes reference to the “mind-set for kendō refereeing” according to the three masters Takano Sasaburō, Nakayama Hakudō, and Saimura Gorō. It declares, “We consider even a light tobikomi-men to be adequate”, “when one strikes at dō, and the other makes clear contact with his men an instant later, this is near enough to ai-uchi [simultaneous strikes]”. These words are similar to those mentioned by the Dai-Nippon Butokukai’s [Greater Japan Martial Virtue Society, Yamagata division] 1910 publication, “Kendō Yōran” by Koseki Norimasa. This was probably a common sentiment in all of the Butokukai branches from the end of the Meiji period until the beginning of the Shōwa period.
However, until the middle of the Edo period, it was not typical for any particular value to be placed on attacking men-uchi. In the text “Kenroku” [volume 11] by Ogyū Sorai in the twelfth year of Kyōhō (1727), he states “Schools in which the main intent is to attack the opponent’s head are suitable for peaceful times. However, one should realise that although strikes can be made at the kabuto [helmet], too much focus on this type of training may not be useful in actual battle.” Within the switch from the kenjutsu of the Warring States period to the unarmoured kenjutsu of the peaceful era, more schools focusing more on striking at the head began to emerge. However, as this passage indicates, their methods were very different to times when armour was required in combat.
Following this, the use of training armour in sword schools (particularly men and kote) continued to disseminate until the late 1700s, and with prohibition of taryū-jiai lifted from the Tenpō era, exchanges and interactions between different schools increased. It was through this progression that, as men techniques were considered more difficult compared to other techniques, consideration to the value of mastering this difficult technique became more widespread.

In the text “Gekkiken Namba no Ume” (1858) written by Tenshin Shirai-ryū exponent, Tsutsui Rokuhana, it states: “One should attack men from jōdan clearly. Striking men from jōdan is ideal, yet in a difficult situation, one may also attack from seigan or gedan.” Further, when Shindō Munen-ryū student, Ono Junzō, was queried by an opponent why he does not attack tsuki or , he answered:
Both tsuki and dō are simple attacks, whereas men and kote are harder. For this reason, it is important to attempt to master difficult techniques over easier ones.
“Shindō Munen-ryū Kenjutsu Menkyo Benkai” (1867), contained in Kuki-shi Shi
The hardest thing to strike is an opponent’s men.
– Naitō Takaharu hanshi
This is an extension of Naitō Takaharu hanshi’s words “the hardest thing to strike is an opponent’s men”. Kubota Seion of the Tamiya-ryū, and chief of the bakufu’s military academy Kōbusho, talked about the importance of striking men from the viewpoint of instructing novices. In the “Kenhō Ryakki” (1839), Kubota suggests: “At the beginning” stages “one should attack men and kote many times. Men attacks should make up seventy percent, and kote thirty percent of training. Without this emphasis one’s techniques will become unbalanced.” Furthermore, it is also advised that one strive to execute the techniques obediently maintaining.
In the ZNKR’s seminar textbook in the section regarding teaching men strikes to beginners, it is also written that “shōmen uchi forms the basis for every technique, and it is essential that a great deal of time is dedicated to its detailed instruction.” Shōmen-uchi came to be viewed as an important part of kendotechnique due to the idea “because it is difficult, it has value”, and “by executing many dedicated attacks at men with correct posture, it is possible to encourage beginners’ to maintain correct form for other techniques.”
kendo, naginata, gekiken

When did kirikaeshi appear?

Kirikaeshi and kakari-geiko have their origins in a Hokushin Ittō-ryū practice method called “uchikomi”. In “Chiba Shūsaku-sensei Jikiden Kenjutsu Meijin-hō” (1884), there is the following passage:
Uchikomi is not something that is popular at other schools. If you truly wish to improve your kenjutsu techniques, you cannot do so without doing uchikomi. Therefore, beginners at our school were not allowed to participate in actual matches. All they did was uchikomi for more than a year … When it comes to this practice method, you can improve greatly by striking your opponent’s men hard in rapid sequence from both the left and right, or striking the centre of your opponent’s men, or by striking your opponent’s dō from both the left and right sides.

Takano Sasaburō
June 28, 1862 – December 31, 1950
It continues, “A motodachi cannot just stand around receiving uchikomi. He has to seek an opportunity to strike back at either the opponent’s men or kote, so that the both training partners are determined to attack each other.” From this, it can be assumed that uchikomi was an integrated as well as a discipline-oriented training method, akin to a combination of kirikaeshi and kakari-geiko. If this was the case, it must have been extremely severe and excruciating.

The most common type of kirikaeshi today is to first strike centre men, then the left and right side of men (starting with the left side of the opponent’s men) four times moving forward, and then five times on the left and right side of men (in the same fashion) moving backwards. After the last strike, the attacker keeps moving back to open up maai [the distance], then lunges in again to strike centre men, continues with the same routine, and finally strikes centre men to finish. As explained in “Kendō Shidō Yōryō – Kendō Kōshūkai Shiryō”, however, this method is just a guideline for beginners. It is also mentioned that the practitioner should be creative when doing kirikaeshi, depending on the level, by increasing the number of strikes in hitting the left and right side of men until running out of breath, crashing into each other, etc.

In “Kendō” (1915), Takano Sasaburō writes, “You should always practice kirikaeshi…” and he offers the following explanation to describe what kind of effects can be gleaned from doing it:
Kirikaeshi is an essential method of practice for learning kendo. You will become nimble when moving to the front, back, left and right, your body and limbs will become stronger, your movement uninhibited, and your respiratory capacity will improve. Your attacks will become more precise and spontaneous, mind and physical strength will become unified, superfluous strength will be expunged, and people with a deficiency of strength will become stronger. The power in your left and right side will equalize, striking from the ura and omote sides will become uniform, you will be able to execute techniques with lightning speed, and you will improve your endurance and fortitude.
Also, in terms of how to do kirikaeshi, he writes:
Rapidly strike men forwards and backwards alternately, vigorously exerting yourself with each strike until you run out of breath without stopping. Strikes should be big and fast, your arms and legs coordinated, and your mind and spirit synchronised while striking powerfully. When your arms get exhausted or when you are out of breath, raise your arms over your head and then stretch them out forward, move your feet forward and strike enough times while shouting ‘men!’ Then, you are allowed to take a rest.
This means that originally kirikaeshi was not an exercise that had a limit to the number of times it was done. What mattered more than anything was to strike vigorously with mind and spirit synchronised until the arms become exhausted and you are out of breath. Only then is it possible to build fundamental skills which will help the practitioner deal with the harshness of training.
However, as budo (including kendo) was being introduced as a subject in military or school education in modern times, people started to set a limit to the number of strikes in kirikaeshi for training novices. In “Budō Kyōhan” (1895) by Kumamoto Jitsudō, kirikaeshi is mentioned in the section “Kiso Enshū Dai-ikkyō; Uchikomi”. There is an explanation that the opponent’s men should be struck in the order of left and right seven times moving forward until the seventh strike on the left men (not okuri-ashi but ayumi-ashi as if walking), then take a big step back recoiling off the last strike. It also has detailed instructions regarding how ukete should receive strikes. Perhaps today’s kirikaeshi with its set number of strikes was eventually established from this training method, which was developed with beginners in mind.

Incidentally, Takano Sasaburō introduced the rapid alternate strike method in his book “Kendō”. With regards to the kind of kirikaeshi that he practised in his youth; he writes:

Kirikaeshi in our school [Ittō-ryū Nakanishi-ha] was not the kind in which left and right men are struck alternatively. Instead, we powerfully struck the same side a number of times consecutively, and then the other side. There was no set number for the strikes on either side. We used a wooden sword without donning a men. I could have done the current style of kirikaeshi even with my eyes closed. However, if you are aiming to make three strikes on one side and then four strikes on the other, you have to be very careful or it could end up in injury.
Budō Hōkan, 1934
This type of training method using a wooden sword might be a little difficult to perform today, but considering the significance of kirikaeshi, for “refining striking technique moving forwards and backwards”, or training practitioners (including motodachi) to be mentally prepared in matches as if fighting “with real swords”, maybe this type of training method deserves reconsideration.
kendo, naginata, gekiken

Significance of harsh training

A passage in the book “Kendō” (1915) by Takano Sasaburō hanshi, states “a characteristic of kendo is its harsh style of training”, and that “this is valuable acquire the many types of movements needed for modification and development of one’s technical ability in kendo.” Of course, as in other forms of budo and sport there are exacting methods of training, however there is a peculiar value placed on austere kendo training. When one thinks of the “harsh” types of training in kendosuch as kirikaeshi, uchikomi-geiko and kakari-geiko. In kangeiko (midwinter training), for example, there are still many dojos that emphasise kirikaeshi and kakarigeiko during the early morning training regime. One still hears of stories pertaining to the pre-war Budō Senmon Gakkō and Kokushikan, where the training of junior students consisted almost entirely of an unforgiving regime of kirikaeshi and kakarigeiko.

Takano Sasaburō
As I have already covered, the latter part of the modern Edo period saw a division and systemisation of gekiken techniques, and at the same time, severe training methods were also instigated. In “Chiba Shūsaku-sensei chokuden kenjutsu meijin-hō”, a text frequently cited in this article, the author states that “Uchikomi is not performed much in other schools, and for those who wish to truly improve at kenjutsu, not doing it will mean that reaching a skilled level is extremely difficult. Thus, for novices in this school, a duration of one year will be dedicated to uchikomi without participating in shiai.” Also, “Kangeiko will be conducted every morning over 30 days from 3.00 am until dawn, and will consist only of uchikomi, regardless of level.” Furthermore, “This uchikomi will be directed at continuous striking of the left and right men with strict attention given to the finer points, large and straight attacks to men, and left and right attacks to dō, with the purpose of becoming exceptionally proficient.”
Furthermore, within the same text there is mention of “uchikomi jūtoku” whereby ten outcomes of uchikomi training are outlaid, all with a focus prolonging “iki-ai” [breathing]. Kōsaka explains that uchikomi is “not performed much in other schools”, however it is believed that the various new fencing schools formed in the bakumatsu period devised training methods that aimed at prolonging and strengthening one’s respiratory capacity. In the book “Gekiken Sōdan” (1790) it states that in the Shindō Munen-ryū one should “maintain an ensuing focus even after a fight has ended”. It was also stated that the Kyōshin Meichi-ryū expected students to “continue focusing to meet attacks firmly.” Even in the “Shindō Munen-ryū Kenjutsu Kokoroe-sho” it refers to the Jikishinkage-ryū, whereby: “A opponent from Jikishinkage-ryū will almost certainly launch an assault afterwards, so one is better to attack rather than to contemplate this.” In short, “To maintain a continued alertness” explains that things do not come to an end with an ippon cut, but rather, techniques must be executed one after the other in an unforgiving offensive. To do this may be considered difficult, unless one undergoes extensive uchikomi type training of “iki-ai no keiko”.

Matsudaira Sadanobu
January 15, 1759 – June 14, 1829
The importance of strengthening and lengthening one’s respiratory capacity had been previously asserted by Matsudaira Sadanobu (a member of the Shōgun’s council of elders who led the Kansei Reforms). From the time of the feudal lord Ōshū Shirakawa, Sadanobu would tell his retainers that:“One should wear armour, and study how to fight with both the spear and the sword [Shūshin-roku].” Further, he stated: “Just hitting each other relentlessly with spears and swords is not useful. Place the chikutō [the training spear] or the shinai [used in kenjutsu] over the shoulder, walk a distance of 5-7 ri [approx. 20‒28 km], and without resting the legs, practice swinging the yari or shinai. One should test the movements of the body, legs, and loins as they tire. This is done for the purpose of iki-ai no keiko [Shirakawa Kōdenshin-roku”].” He explained that the act of attacking or thrusting at an opponent without hesitation when wearing armour, and the exhaustion accrued through iki-ai no keiko to ensure the movements of one’s body and mind, is important for use “when one is in a pickle”.
As Kōsaka put it, there is a side to uchikomi that is a comprehensive and indispensable form of training for the improvement of technical ability in kendo. Additionally, the disbursement of the spirit through the repetition of kirikaeshi, uchikomi-geiko, or kakari-geiko in kangeiko for example, aside from strengthening respiratory function, helps one to recognise the actual movements of mind and body when fatigued. This suggests a way of thinking that encompasses the idea that, as a consequence, such training methods act to improve one’s responses in times of predicament.

It is within the development of various techniques and training methods in kendo that the imagination, methods, and sense of value of our predecessors can be unravelled—and I would be happy if you could learn from this.
kendo, naginata, gekiken

Why sonkyo?

In kendo, we are required to do sonkyo before and after a tachiai (match), as well as during practice, and it is done together with a bow. When did this tradition begin?

In the densho (written records) of the Katōda Shinkage-ryū school of swordsmanship, there are meticulously recorded details of fencing matches that took place in the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate. One such example is a densho called “Kendō Shogaku Shūchi” (1860). [– Prof. Murayama Kinji, Shiga University, has conducted thorough research on this subject]

In this densho, there is an entry concerning orishiki etiquette. My interpretation is that you squat down with both feet forming a “T”, like a wooden bell hammer, with the waist positioned directly above. The legs are spread, and the left knee is placed on the floor with the right knee slightly higher. The gaze is cast straight ahead rather than down, with tension in the nape of the neck, and the back straight with shoulders dropped. The buttocks do not protrude, and the lower abdomen is extended outwards. It was said that it is important to be mentally prepared while conducting orishiki etiquette. In other words, be prepared to defeat your opponent even before the match begins. This requires creativity and hard training.

“Squat down with the feet forming a ‘T’ like a wooden bell hammer, with the waist positioned directly above.” This sounds similar in form to sonkyo. However, given that the left knee is touching the floor, there is a slight difference between this and sonkyo in modern kendo. The term orishiki means to have one of the knees touching the floor, and it can frequently be found in books published between the early-modern and modern period as a striking technique in kendo. An example is orishiki-kote, which is mentioned in “68 Kenjutsu Techniques”. In modern terms, it resembles katsugi-kotewith the left knee on the ground. This term also appears in books such as “Chiba Shūsaku-sensei Jikiden Kenjutsu Meijin-hō” by the Hokushin Ittō-ryū.
In “Kendō Shōgaku Shūchi” mentioned above, the paragraph preceding “orishiki” etiquette is titled “How to prepare before matches?”. It says: “At the time of doing orishiki, the protocols of our school [Katōda Shinkage-ryū] dictate that we do not bow as well. Nevertheless, the kakarite must bow to elders with a feeling of humility and gratitude for the opportunity to practice with them, and the elders must reciprocate.” This may give the impression that swordsmen did not bow when training with their peers or practitioners from other schools, but origins of the bowing tradition in modern kendo can be traced back to this. In the “Chiba Shūsaku-sensei Jikiden Kenjutsu Meijin-hō”, the training sessions of the Jikishinkage-ryū are described as follows:

Jikishinkage-ryū swordsmanship is quite extreme and they do orishiki or kikyo [means to squat down with both knees on the ground, with the weight on the balls of the feet and the buttocks positioned on the heels] in every match, and breathe deeply. Once facing their opponent, they immediately assume jōdan-no-kamae and are ready to strike being one step ahead of their opponent the whole time … When facing each other, if the opponent stands up too quickly, they stop him by saying ‘not so fast’, in a way that resembles the commencement of a sumo bout. The reason why they breathe deeply is so that they can slow down their rapid heartbeat.
Sonkyo in modern kendo appears to be a remnant of the tradition of orishiki or kikyo (kiza) in Japanese swordsmanship from early modern times which has been passed down in a slightly different form. It possibly became more like the current sonkyo (with the right foot positioned slightly in front of the left so the body inclines naturally to the left) and widespread with the dissemination of the “Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kendo Kata” (the current “Nippon Kendo Kata” from the Taishō and early Showa period). In the course of this process, I believe that the significance of “how to beat your opponent before the match even begins by mentally preparing yourself” from the Katōda Shinkage-ryū, or “How to slow down your rapid heartbeat” in the Jikishinkage-ryū, was reflected in sonkyo, orishiki or kikyo.

Kanji used to write “son” in sonkyo means to “squat down”, and so does the character that represents “kyo.” Sonkyo when used in relation to the tea ceremony can be read as tsukubai, and it refers to a stone basin that is placed low on the ground outside the tearoom for guests to cleanse their hands before they enter. The idea is the same as purifying the hands and mouth at shrines. In the tea ceremony, however, one must crouch down to reach the basin. It seems that by squatting down and being close to the ground while washing the hands, one is able to prepare mentally and physically before entering the special or sacred space—the tearoom.

Judging from this, sonkyo in kendo or sumo may also have the same significance in the sense that the practitioner is about to enter into a special or sacred area and have a “clean” match to test one’s skills. Indeed, sonkyo in sumo is part of a ritual that wrestlers engage in after they enter the mound. From there, they bow to each other with their fingers pointing downwards, clap their hands together, spread their arms, and then turn their palms up in order to prove that they are not carrying anything on their person such as a small weapon.

Additionally, in sumo practice wrestlers do sonkyo at the beginning of bout to slow their heartbeat down. This seems to be related to the aforementioned Jikishinkage-ryū method of slowing down the heartbeat. Why do sonkyo instead of a standing bow? Perhaps it was known through experience that in the sonkyo position one will be more cognizant of the lower abdomen and joints, which leads to faster revitalization through tanden breathing.
To conclude, sokyo has its roots in Japanese traditions as a way of showing respect when entering into a special or sacred space, or as a way of controlling one’s breathing. The same can be said of kendo, but in addition to the fact that it also has significance as a form of etiquette, it also serves as a method of mental training in which one seeks to win before the match commences. Both of these lines of thought originate in early modern period kenjutsu.
kendo, naginata, gekiken

Why only four targets?

In modern kendo’s regulations and refereeing rules, the areas designated as datotsu-bui are men (hidari, migi and shomen), kote (hidari and migi), (hidari and migi), and tsuki. Additionally, the subsidiary rules of kendo state that when striking men on the right or left side of the head, contact should be made above the temples. When striking kote, the right wrist of the opponent should be struck when kenshi is in chūdan-no-kamae, or the left or right wrist when kenshi is in a position other than chūdan-no-kamae. These rules have not changed much since the Dai-Nippon Butokukai made modifications to their rules and regulations in 1927.
Datotsu-bui in pre-modern times were quite different from the current ones described above. To begin with, when warriors wielded real swords and wore armour, the conventional way to strike an opponent was to aim for the gaps in their armour. This type of striking and thrusting can be seen in old-style kenjutsu which teaches kacchū kenjutsu (kaisha kenjutsu) i.e. to defeat opponents protected by traditional armour. According to research by Fukushima University’s Prof. Nakamura Tamio in recent years, it has been speculated that kenjutsu practice was already conducted with protective equipment in the late 1600s. However, just because practitioners used protective gear does not necessarily mean that the current target areas were introduced into kenjutsu straight away.
In the document “Ikkan Seizan Shiai Shimatsu” (1750) which was kept by the Sagawa-ha Shinkage-ryū of the Sendai domain, there are descriptions such as “struck the right armpit near the gap in the side plate of the armour and won by ippon” and “struck the right upper arm and won”. Normally Sagawa-ha Shinkage-ryū allowed their students to practice with a helmet and gauntlets, and considering the fact that the two areas mentioned above that were struck were not protected, we can assume that the protected and target areas were not the same. [ – According to research by prof. Enomoto Shōji of Nanzan University]

In a document titled “Shintō Munen-ryū Kenjutsu Kokoroe-sho” (1833) which is related to the Shintō Munen-ryū of Mito domain, there is an entry in a section that refers to the Ittō-ryū that states, “Thrust into the right armpit”. Furthermore, in the section referring to the Ryūgo-ryū, it says, “Hit the opponent’s leg, which is not something other schools would do.” The type of protective equipment that was worn depended on the school. According to the above document, students wore men, kote, and bamboo in the Ittō-ryū and Jikishinkage-ryū schools; only men and kote in the Kyōshin Meichi-ryū school; normally men and kote, but also , depending on the opponent, in the Shintō Munen-ryū school; and men, kote, and sune-ate in the Ryūgo-ryū school. As you can see, there were many variations.
Perhaps it became self-evident to strike the protected areas. Also, an understanding to strike each other on common target areas must have been established between the Tenpō period, when bouts between different schools became popular, and the closing stages of the Tokugawa shogunate, when kenjutsu protective equipment resembling that used now became available and worn by people beyond the boundaries of schools. Reforms in the Tenpō period encouraged active participation in the literary and military arts. Because of that, government policy became less severe with regards to the prohibition of inter-school matches. Then, in the process of establishing means and manners for executing inter-school matches, target areas seem to have been gradually incorporated to guarantee fairness and ensure safety.

Datotsu-bui for thrusting was not consistent until the Tenpō period. However, between the closing stages of the Tokugawa period and the first few years of the start of the Meiji period, the target area was narrowed down to the front of the throat as men with throat guards were developed. It is also possible that many accidents deriving from thrusts to the men-gane helped facilitate this. Later on, between the late Meiji period and the Taishō period (1912–1926), a thrust to was reinstated in the rules and regulations of the Dai-Nippon Butokukai. In the 1927 provision it was clarified that the point of contact had to be the throat guard. With the men target, striking centre men became somewhat admired around the final days of the Tokugawa shogunate. This came from the idea that it is difficult to strike centre men in practice sessions or actual matches, and therefore it was meaningful to strike the front. Not to mention the fact that cuts to the centre of a human head would be fatal.
The driving force behind the confining of datotsu-bui throughout early modern times was the notion that choosing to strike areas deemed difficult to achieve in actual combat would lead to more efficacious training. As Kumamoto Sanemichi states in “Budō Kyōhan” (1895): “You are supposed to stab your opponent’s chest with a real sword, but instead go for the throat guard which is higher than the chest and harder to thrust.” Or, “In comparison to a real sword, none of the attacks should be made on areas that are easy to strike. The same goes with thrusts. Do not target easy points to thrust, and become engaged in your training.”

Regarding kote strikes, perhaps fencers targeted both right and left, but around the final days of Tokugawa shogunate it became popular to strike only the right. For example, in “68 Kenjutsu Techniques” taught in the Hokushin Ittō-ryū, there is a section called “12 Kote Techniques”, in which 11 out of the 12 were based on the assumption that the right kote was the target. The one exception was a technique simply called “left kote”.

Why did the right kote become the target from the chūdan-no-kamae stance? There are various theories, but perhaps it was due to the fact that samurai would use their right hand to draw the sword which they carried on their left hip, and an injury to the right hand would result in a tremendous loss of ability to fight. Also, considering how people normally use chopsticks in Japan, people have traditionally had more respect for the right hand. Because of these reasons, maybe it was their intention to force their opponent to acknowledge absolute defeat through a cut to the right wrist.
Another possibility was out of concerns for safety. In the 1960s many kenshi were engaged in a practice match with the condition that they were allowed to aim for left kote even when taking chūdan-no-kamae (with mutual consent). When an opponent struck the left kote his shinai tip may slid up to the left armpit. It could be extremely painful and it hurt for a long time. Something like this may well be one of the deciding factors behind right kote being designated as the target area.
kendo, naginata, gekiken

Towards modern kendo

In 1895, an organisation for the unification of martial arts named the Dai-Nippon Butokukai was established. The initial objective of the Dai-Nippon Butokukai was to assume leadership over budō in general, to promote and spread it, to hold tournaments, and to acknowledge martial artists who made notable contributions. In 1899, the Butokuden (Hall of Martial Virtue) was completed in the precinct of the Heian Shrine in Kyoto. 1902 saw the creation of a life pension for masters awarded with the honorary titles of hanshi or kyōshi.
Takano Sasaburo (Itto Ryu), Naito Takaharu (Hokushin Itto Ryu), Monna Tadashi (Hokushin Itto Ryu), Tsuji Shinpei (Shingyoto Ryu), Negishi Shingoro (Shindo Munen Ryu)
Among the achievements of the Dai-Nippon Butokukai the creation of unified sets of kata is particularly important. In 1906, Kanō Jigōrō led the creation of the “Butokukai Jūjutsu Kata”, but took account of other ryūha’s opinions. The same year, three kata were created for kenjutsu. However, there was considerable dissatisfaction among many kenjutsu experts, and in 1912, the “Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kendō Kata” was created instead by Takano Sasaburō and Naitō Takaharu and others. It is still practised now as the “Nippon Kendō Kata”. The important thing here is that through the Butokukai’s unified kata, kenjutsu finally saw the successful synthesis of techniques from different ryūha into one unified form.

Concerning the Dai-Nippon Butokukai, another important contribution was the integration of budō into the school curriculum as a required subject. In order to achieve this objective, first it was necessary to create an institution to train bujutsu instructors, and in 1912 the Bujutsu Senmon Gakkō (Martial Arts Vocational School) was inaugurated. In 1919, Nishikubo Hiromichi became the vice-president of the Butokukai and the principal of the Bujutsu Senmon Gakkō. Nishikubo advocated using the word “budō” instead of “bujutsu” because of the more profound spiritual connotation, and thus he changed the name of the school to Budō Senmon Gakkō. At the same time, kenjutsu, jujutsu and kyūjutsu became kendo, jūdō and kyūdōrespectively, and budō was used as the appellation that encompassed all disciplines. The trend of using the word budō in order to refer to martial arts started at that period.
Before the Second World War, Butokukai determined that that kendo was an art that teaches swordsmanship for self-improvement; the sword that gives life. Kendo, which had moved away from the killing sword in the pre-war era to the sword that gives life had returned back to the killing sword under the influence of the Ministry of Education.
The Second World War caused a divide. In the 1940s, kendo was instrumentalised by the Ministry of Education as a tool to promote nationalism and militarism. Indeed, the Ministry of Education wanted to make kendo at least partially effective for modern combat; rather ludicrously in an era of armoured vehicles, firearms and artillery. An effort was made to change the philosophy of kendo from the idea of self-perfection and spiritual betterment to the use of a military sword, devotion to the nation, and sacrifice for the emperor.

Butokukai opposing this approach was restructured in 1942 into an organ of the state, effectively losing its independence. After that, it became yet another instrument in the militarisation of kendo. The rules of kendo were changed in 1943, two years before the end of the war, focusing on the use of the sword as an instrument of killing. Kendo of that era would be unrecognizable by today’s standards.
Kendogu were discarded for a shirt, trousers and shoes. Tameshigiri (a test-cutting) was encouraged. The length of shinai was set to size 36, the same size as the military swords of that time. Isshu-jiai (matches with multiple opponents and against different weapons) were encouraged. Practice was made outside and unlike today’s or 1930’s kendo, the use of strength and violence and aggression were privileged.

Douglas MacArthur
January 26, 1880 – April 5, 1964
After the Second World War, the United States took the leading role among the Allied Forces in the occupation of Japan until 1952. Following the defeat of Japan, in order to purge Japan of militarism, all forms of budō were banned by the “gaijin-no-shogun” (Douglas MacArthur), especially kendo, which was considered to be deeply rooted in ultra-nationalism. Dai-Nippon Butokukai was also disbanded. Jūdō and kyūdō eventually came back into favour as many of the military personnel in the Allied Forces were amateur practitioners. In 1949, All Japan Judo Federation and Japanese Kyudo Federation were formed. However, kendo had to endure many hardships to be revived.

Many martial arts were at risk of disappearing then. Junzo Sasamori (16th Soke of Ono-ha Itto-ryu) wishing to save kendo negotiated the regime to allow for kendo to survive and be gradually reinstated.
Junzo Sasamori「笹森順造」
May 18, 1886 – February 13, 1977
A compromise had to be made and shinai kyogi was created. The uniform and armours were based on fencing, and the discipline used American terminology. Unfortunately, with the compromise, sacrifices had to be made. Between 1945 and 1952 because of American pressure it was normal to perceive the shinai as a mere stick, any combat-related vocabulary was avoided. Bōgu had to be lightweight. Wearing hakama and keikogi was forbidden, and only pants and shirts were allowed. Kakegoe and kiai, tai-atari and ashi-barai were forbidden. Furthermore, shinai was radically changed to size 50 rather than today’s size 39, made softer more pliable and lighter despite the greater length. Matches always lasted 5 minutes and judged by three referees. The competitor with the most point within the five minutes was to declared victorious.
Notwithstanding that, any form of ashi-barai had been already discouraged in kendo before shinai-kyogi emerged.
Because in kendo the techniques are concerned with the sword, outside of situations when it can’t be helped, you should avoid grappling. If you have great strength, challenging people to grapple or wrestling with those who are weak is incorrect.
“Kendo Kyohon”, 1930 Takano Sasaburo (1862–1950) – kendo hanshi
Finally in 1952 kendo was legalised once again. Both kendo and shinai kyogi coexisted until shinai kyogi was completely absorbed by kendo in 1959. Kakegoe, kiai, and tai-atari returned integrally. Ashi-barai has only been maintained in police-kendo since then. We can make the point that the disappearance of ashi-barai (a cause for many falls) made the practice of kendo safer and more accessible.

With the return of kendo, Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei; successor to Butokukai was established. Kendo was reinstated in mostly the pre-war style. The shinai was restored to the size 39 rather than the wartime size 36; matches against multiple opponents and against other weapons became uncommon.
kendo, naginata, gekiken

Kendo philosophy

Ogawa Chūtarō
1901 – 1920
The philosophy of kendo was still to be determined. The idea of military training was discarded. However, there was still a debate as to whether kendo should be conceived as a competitive sport like shinai kyogi, or as a budo that teaches swordsmanship for self-betterment as in pre-war kendo.

An official answer was provided in 1975. Ogawa Chutaro, kyudan hanshi was asked by the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei to establish “The Concept of Kendo”.

“Kendo is a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the katana.”

There are still people who claim that the shinai is only a bamboo stick, and they, therefore, see nothing wrong on considering kendo on a solely ludic level. If you consider the shinai that way, the shinai will only be a stick, and it will suffice to say that kendo is a sport. However, if you consider the shinai as a nihonto [japanese sword], kendo becomes a question of life and taking life. Its aim will be to enlighten the questions of life and death. That attitude is the basis of life, and is useful even when we do not carry swords.
Ogawa Chutaro, kendo kyudan hanshi
Indeed, the same approach as that of pre-war kendo prevailed. Kendo was neither to be an instrument for militarism, nor a competitive sport. As such it is very clear that swordsmanship shall remain a fundamental part of kendo. It is the method through which kendo allows us to self-improve. Kendo should be an art that values peace, courtesy and spiritual improvement above all else.


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Those characters are “satsu-jin-ken" and “katsu-jin-ken”; the sword that kills, and the sword that brings life. They say the early concept of life-giving sword was originally created and advocated by the late Edo period swordsman Toranosuke Shimada under heavy influence of a mixture of Confucianism and Zen teachings. Along with Nobutomo Otani (Jikishinkage-ryū) and Susumu Oishi (Oishi Shinkage-ryū), already mentioned above, he was the one of the “Three Swordsmen of Tenpō”, particularly well skilled in kenjutsu.
The sword is the soul.
Study the soul to know the sword.
Evil soul — evil sword.
When Toranosuke first arrived to Edo (1838), he challenged Nobutomo Otani, who was known as “the best in Japan” at the time. Otani accepted the bout without hesitation and even let Toranosuke to land one ippon. Encouraged by this, he challenged Inoue Denbei (Jikishinkage-ryu Fujikawa-ha) but was beaten without Inoue holding back. He begged Inoue to let him as a disciple, but Inoue sent him back to Otani with a recommendation. According to one theory, when they met again this time, Toranosuke was overwhelmed by Otani's glare and was forced into a corner of the dojo and had no choice but to do dogeza. He had eventually become Otani’s disciple and mastered Jikishinkage-ryū, even creating a style of his own, as well as a dojo. He wrote the most prominent words which become the basis for life-giving sword philosophy. These concepts have played a fundamental role during the entire history of kendo.
The sword is a mirror of one’s soul. If the soul is corrupt, so is the sword. Those who seek to learn how to wield a sword must learn how to wield the heart [soul]. The sword is an instrument made for killing. However, it can be used for both good and evil, hinging on a state of one’s heart [soul]. This concept doesn't apply to swords only. Evil words and deeds will leave a trace of your evil soul in the hearts of men around you. Kind words and deeds will be imprinted in the hearts and flourish eventually.
Toranosuke Shimada (1814–1852)
Kenjutsu existed as an art for killing in the Muromachi period (from XII to XV century) and further. From XVII century until the 1930s, it became increasingly about self-improvement and the seeking of perfection through the art of the sword; was renamed to kendo in 1926, but keeping the essence through centuries.

In the 1940s kendo was instrumentalised by the Ministry of Education, and returned to the sword that brings death as in the ancient days. Thankfully, after the WWII kendo returned to the pre-war conception of swordsmanship as a mean of self-development.

This era belongs to the sword that brings life. The contemporary philosophy of kendo focuses on that as one can see through the Purpose of Kendo, as explained by the ZNKR.

The purpose of practicing kendo is:
To mould the mind and body, cultivate a vigorous spirit, аnd through correct and rigid training to strive for improvement in the art of kendo, to hold in esteem human courtesy and honour, to associate with others with sincerity, and to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself. This will make one be able to love his/her country and society, to contribute to the development of culture, and to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.
Within kendo, swordsmanship is the method through which the practitioner cultivates his heart and spirit.

Nonetheless, if we forget that the heart of kendo is kenjutsu, that the shinai is a sword, and its techniques were initially created for killing, then kendo will lose its spiritual depth and meaning. Forgetting swordsmanship, one cannot understand the deepest teachings of kendo…
Some portions of vanilla material used in this article are available in Japanese on All Japan Kendo Federation web bookshelf. I do thank any and all authors and their work whose dedication to kendo made this article possible. For any references to original materials used herein please contact us directly.

Below you may find the list of books and documents in Japanese, which were cited or referred within this article. Some of texts are difficult, even impossible to find nowadays, but I do hope that reading this article may lift the shades a bit.

『剣道 試合・審判規則』 全日本剣道連盟
『幼少年剣道指導要領』 全日本剣道連盟
『剣道和英辞典』 全日本剣道連盟
『つるぎ』 慶応大学校友会誌 第6号 1934
『剣道学』 金子近次著 1924
『最も実際的な学生剣道の粋』 富永堅吾著 1925
『剣道の歴史』 全日本剣道連盟 2003
『大日本剣道史』 堀正平著 1934
『武術雑話』 男谷精一郎 1843
『日本武道学研究』 17巻1号 1985
『日本武道学研究』 16巻1号 1984
『千葉周作先生直伝剣術名人法』 高坂昌孝著 1884
『千葉周作先生直伝剣術名人法』 高坂昌孝著 1884
『武徳会誌』九 1910
『剣道講習会資料』 全日本剣道連盟
『冷暖自知―小森園正雄剣道口述録』 大矢稔編著 1997
『武道宝鑑』 講談社 1930
『剣道要覧』 小関教政述 大日本武徳会山形支部 1910
『鈐録(けんろく)』 巻十一 荻生徂徠著 1727
『撃剣難波之楳』 筒井六華著 1858
『神道無念流剣術免許弁解』 1867 『久喜市史』所収
『剣法略記』 窪田清音 1839
『剣道講習会資料』 全日本剣道連盟
『神道無念流剣術心得書』 武藤七之介 天保年間(1930〜44)
『剣道の歴史』 全日本剣道連盟 2003
『千葉周作先生直伝剣術名人法』 高坂昌孝著 1884 所収
最終回 鍛錬的稽古法の意義
『剣道』 高野佐三郎著 1915
『千葉周作先生直伝剣術名人法』 高坂昌孝著 1884 所収
『撃剣叢談』 三上元龍著 1790
『神道無念流剣術心得書』 武藤七之介 天保年間(1930〜44)
『修身録』 松平定信著
『白川候伝心録』 松平定信著 1783

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