The International Shinkendo Federation is an organisation committed to teaching real Japanese swordsmanship. Obata Toshishiro Kaiso is the founder, director, and primary instructor. The Shinkendo method stresses very traditional and effective swordsmanship, which can provide both practical competence and insight into classical martial arts with careful training. Shinkendo is steeped in samurai traditions, including heiho (strategic planning), reiho (correct etiquette), and philosophy.
Historians agree that swordsmanship was at the heart of the majority of Japanese feudal warriors’ martial instruction. Shinkendo is a comprehensive reunification of what the samurai once used and relied on for survival, and it can be classified as a combination of the founder’s own technical and structural innovations, as well as an amalgamation of several Japanese swordsmanship traditions that have evolved and splintered over time. Shinkendo is a historically accurate and comprehensive style of Japanese swordsmanship that has been unified.
Sword training is based on our “Gorin Goho Gogyo” structure (five equally balanced interweaving rings that symbolise the five major methods of technical study). Suburi (sword swinging drills), Tanrengata (solo forms), Battoho (combative drawing methods), Tachiuchi (pre-arranged sparring), and Tameshigiri/Shizan are some of the techniques used (cutting straw and bamboo targets).
Students usually begin by training with a bokuto (wooden sword), then progress to iaito (or mogito, a non-sharpened sword), and lastly shinken, or ‘live blade.’ At a higher level, the student begins to put their newly gained talents to the test by practising test cutting on tatami omote makiwara (wet tatami mats) and eventually Nihondake or Mosodake (Japanese or Chinese bamboo).
While Shinkendo necessitates intense physical training, coordination, and focus, one of the most important aspects of Shinkendo is the emphasis on spiritual forging, which inspires “Bushi Damashii” (the samurai/ warrior spirit), a quality we believe is just as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago. Shinkendo exercise should result in a calm, clear, and concentrated spirit, in addition to a strong body and intellect.
Written by Fred East, Somerset Budokai
Visit www.shinkendo.com for more details.
My website for the South West of England is www.fredeast.org.uk/budokai.htm and a number of videos are there as a taster (being updated all the time). The clubs here are under the Somerset Budokai umbrella and all details are shown there. There are only three clubs teaching Shinkendo in the UK two of which are in Somerset run by myself and one of my students and one in Northampton.
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