Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kenjutsu, Iajututsu, Kendo & Iaido


When I taught a Kenjutsu class at our Yoshukai Summer camp 4 students out of 15 showed up without any kind of sword...

Turns out a most students had no clue what Kenjutsu is about.

Let us try to clarify what Kendo, Kenjutsu, Iaido and Iaijutsu are.

Iaijutsu : Basically, Iaijutsu is about drawing your sword and cutting your opponent in one move. This is the intent. Ideally, your opponent is out on your draw (nukitsuke). As it is unlikely that he is fully dead, but more than likely wounded, you put an end to his misery with an additional move. It is also possible that you missed him on your first draw, or that this first draw was a purely defensive move needed to evade his attack. In that case, you proceed to other moves in order to get rid of your opponent. 

In a way Iaijutsu is more about duelling and street fighting.


The student of Iaijutsu generally performs moves by himself. It is somehow similar to Karate kata. It is important to supplement this training by actual practice with a partner, but at the beginning it is not necessary. 

Generally Iaijutsu is practiced with a Iaito : a blunt sword that allows safe practice by numerous students in a dojo.

Kenjutsu : In Kenjutsu you draw your sword and use it. This is more about battlefield combat.

The student of Kenjutsu immediately starts training with a partner.


Kenjutsu is usually practiced with a wooden boken. 


Iaido and Kendo are similar to Iaijutsu and Kenjutsu in their technical aspects. The techniques of Iaido are the techniques of Iaijutsu. The spirit of their practice is different. Whoever practices Jutsu is seeking technical mastery of the Art. Whoever studies Do is seeking self improvement through practice. However, this is not clear cut. The practice of Iaijutsu or Kenjutsu can also be a spiritual journey, and some senseless idiots practice Kendo.




Kenjutsu / Kendo Iaijutsu / Iaido
Practice With partner Solo
Type of fighting Battle field Street fighting
Training weapon Wooden Boken / Bamboo Shinai Blunt Iaito

Sometimes the term Batto-do or Batto-Jutsu is used to regroup the 2 disciplines under the same term.

There would be much more to say on this subject, but the point is simplicity. I apologize for the approximations. 

The next time you come to a Kenjutsu class, please bring a boken

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