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Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan
Kutaki Postmaster
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Dear all,

Having done a bit of sword work lately and having read lots about traditional ryu-ha it seems many Koryu have kenjutsu as one of the more(if not the most) important elements.

Looking at Bujinkan kenjutsu. From which schools do we draw our knowledge?
If someone would ask me, the school that first comes to mind is Kukishinden Ryu. Next I would say bikenjutsu of Togakure Ryu.

How many here have done/seen kenjutsu from any of the other ryu-ha? I believe most of them have, or at least have had kenjutsu in them. For example Gyokko Ryu, Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Shinden Fudo Ryu and Koto Ryu.

Any insights into above is welcome!

Best regards / Skuggvarg

Posted on: 2009/5/14 18:37
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Re: Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan
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This is a very good question and one that I have given some thought to as well over the years. What makes the question difficult and often puts Bujinkan swordwork in general in question (when observed by outsiders) is that Hatsumi sensei is not typically doing any certain form of sword work. He is doing Hatsumi ryu, which is to my understanding the culmination or expression of his lifetime's experience.

So with that being said, perhaps the answer to your first question is no school! However as you mentioned Kuki shinden and Togakure ryu sword work are fairly prominent. But there is a catch here as well. There are only a handful of people in the greater Bujinkan community that are actually well versed in these methods. The general population is trying to do Hatsumi sensei level work (phd level)without having any prerequisite knowledge/experience (undergrad: bachelors/masters).

Now in terms of kenjutsu from the other ryu-ha, I have seen gyokko ryu swordwork from an American and a European and they were very similar. I have also seen some koto ryu, Takagi Yoshin Iai and Someya sensei showed me one exercise for Shinden Fudo Ryu kenjutsu.

I find that kenjutsu is a closely guarded gem in the Bujinkan. It takes time and the development of some sort of relationship to really get into the meat of any material.

Posted on: 2009/5/15 7:28
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Re: Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan
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i have been taught some of the kenjutsu in Dale's dojo. For example, during the SFR year studied had both tachi and katana; quite often the the feeling of wearing yoroi (even without wearing it), and the footwork was also adapted to this, the long heavy tachi would often be used with single hand, a lot of "grappling" application as well where you would "shorten" the sword, use it as a lever etc. (and in general SFR use of space including in muto dori).

I just realized that this is all shown by Soke and the Shihan on the DKMS video form the SFR year (2006 if my memory serves me), if you are interested. Same for the GKR year! so I will stop detailing things here.

...and I just realized that in Dale's dojo we had 4 different feelings of knejutsu over the last 4 years . Cool!
(at the beginning of each year Dale would mention what kind of boken and other weapons we will be using in the given year... although if somebody wanted to use the "standard issue" boken it was OK too).

mn

Posted on: 2009/5/15 7:30
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Re: Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan
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To my knowledge, there is in Takagi Yoshin ryu no Kenjutsu.

That means, there is no Kenjutsu transmitted, these parts are missing. There is Mutodori, but no Kenjutsu written down. The conclusion is, that there must have been Kenjutsu, but for Takagi Yoshin Ryu this is lost in the waves of time.

Which follows is that every Takagi Yoshin Ryu Kenjutsu you see is (re)constructed. In my eyes, the basis for this can only be the Takagi Yoshin Ryu Taijutsu and Kenjutsu (and Yoroi) knowledge from other ryu ha.

The main source I do know is Kukishinden ryu which might be documented very good, but this is more a hearsay.

Also I heard of Gyokko Ryu Kenjutsu, but this, too, I´m not that sure about. A friend told me of a seminar, but I wasn´t there myself.

Also it seems that many people who feel a lack of Kenjutsu skill, go training outside the Bujinkan and share this wisdom with their Bujinkan fellows.

So it might be a good idea to question wether it is the kenjutsu of a given ryu you train, or kenjutsu done with the "feeling" of that ryu. The latter one might then be a construction.

Posted on: 2009/5/31 18:54
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Re: Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan
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Thats what Im wondering about also. It may very well be that some parts have been lost to time. The way we move, footwork, angling and so on, shows that several of the systems are based on weapons arts (most notably sword I think). A pity if it was all lost...

There may also be written remains of the kata (not only names or vague hints) in the densho.

Regards / Skuggvarg

Posted on: 2009/6/1 23:05
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Re: Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan
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Just a thought, but is there any reason that Gyokko Ryu should have sword work within it.

From what i understand Gyokko Ryu was a method of martial arts passed down by monks and as such carrying a sword might be against the teachings they were following.

Hense Gyokko Ryu was a form of martial arts where an unarmed individual could protect himself from an armed assailant.

Remember that in Gyokko Ryu even the basic forms start from a bowing hand clasped (Gasho Rei) position thus suggesting its links to Buddhism.

Incidently the above could also apply to Koto Ryu too.

In regard to sword work, I think that the sword is over estimated as a weapon on the battlefields of Japan. What swords were used were probably very large.

Have you ever wondered why we have lots of defences from downward cuts and thrusts but not defences from same gyaku kesa giri or kesa giri or yoko giri.

Well as it was explained to me, The swords on the battlefields were too heavy and cumbersome to do those type of cuts. These cuts are common with latter edo period sword work (Off the battlefield) but not on the battlefield.

Also statistics of battlefield injuries in the sengoku Jidai in regard to the sword injuries from the weapon were very very few. The spear, bow and gun making up the most casualties that seem to appear.

So if Gyokko Ryu was a Buddhist influenced art which was the foundation of Ninjutsu and used by Ninja like Momochi Whoses job was spying), why would the art have any sword work, especilally if it was never used on the battlefield.

And any sword work a ninja like Momochi would need would be in the Togakure Ryu.

Incidently isnt the Togakure Ryu also in the Gyokko ryu makimono

Garth

Posted on: 2009/7/17 17:29
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Re: Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan
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Quote:

Garth wrote:
Well as it was explained to me, The swords on the battlefields were too heavy and cumbersome to do those type of cuts. These cuts are common with latter edo period sword work (Off the battlefield) but not on the battlefield.


Quote:

Garth wrote:So if Gyokko Ryu was a Buddhist influenced art which was the foundation of Ninjutsu and used by Ninja like Momochi Whoses job was spying), why would the art have any sword work, especilally if it was never used on the battlefield.


Garth,

Here is some friendly advice.

Accept the fact that you know nothing about the subject matter and stop postulating about things only to try to defend your theories later on as the silliness of them is pointed out to you.

Seriously, you would be more likely to grow if you first accept that you know nothing and a lot of what you think you know is very, very wrong. The key point is that you do not even know what parts of your knowledge are wrong and what parts are correct. If you ever want to get to a point where you know a lot, you will first have to stop acting as if you already know things and instead try learning first and put off trying to teach others until much later.

Take a look at all the folks that do sword in Japan that jump up and down on you on other forums. I am friends with the guy you know as Kogusoku and we really do have a good laugh at you when he comes over to my place in Japan.

I look at the above quotes from you and I do not know where to start to correct your mistaken impressions. It would take a very long, detailed post that you would probably ignore and try to debate to appear that you are not as ignorant as we know you are. So my suggestion is to just keep your ears open, adopt a students outlook instead of a teachers and post only legitimate questions instead of statements disguised as questions.

Posted on: 2009/7/17 17:49
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Re: Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan
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That sounds harsh on the surface Don but when you know gary and know his history of this and other forums, I know where you are coming from. More importantly, he is not a member of the bujinkan. I thought he was banned from this forum in the past?

Marty

Posted on: 2009/7/17 18:07
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Re: Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan
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Quote:

mrdunsky wrote:

More importantly, he is not a member of the bujinkan. I thought he was banned from this forum in the past?


I read on another board that Norm Smythers accepted him as a student and sponsored him back into the Bujinkan. I do not think that Norm has had a chance to teach him much about how to use a sword yet and can't be held responsible for what Garth writes.

Posted on: 2009/7/17 18:11
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Re: Kenjutsu in the Bujinkan
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Quote:

Garth wrote:
Just a thought, but is there any reason that Gyokko Ryu should have sword work within it.



Because it has sword work in it.

Posted on: 2009/7/17 19:01
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