HISTORY OF KENJUTSU
Kenjutsu (剣術) and iaijutsu (居合術) were the samurai or bushi's primary arts of Japanese swordsmanship. It is questionable which form preceded the other, and it is possible that they grew simultaneously, perhaps furthering each other's development. Both depended upon the appearance of a purely Japanese-designed sword and, thus, could not have existed before the Nana period (710-741). Kenjutsu was an aggressive method of swordsmanship. It pits blade against blade in a decisive and unique manner. Some seventeen hundred ryu have been cataloged. This indicates the fanatical intensity of endeavor made by the bushi to perfect swordsmanship.
Kenjutsu is concerned with the blade. Over the centuries some three hundred different fighting postures, positions of the body and sword, have been developed. Each ryu of kenjutsu has characteristic kamae and battle tactics. It was therefore possible for an experienced bushi to recognize the ryu to which his opponent belonged. Kenjutsu was developed systematically during the succeeding Heian (794-1190) and Kamakura (1192-1333) periods, but it is only with the Muromachi period (1392-1573) that kenjutsu is traditionally considered to have been systematized.
The training was always carried out on natural terrain so as to approximate battle reality, consists of a particularly fast series of repetitive continuous movements.
During the Ashikaga period (1336-1573), kenjutsu grew and the use of the wooden sword (bokken or bokuto) in individual combat, which led to serious injuries and deaths, become increasingly popular. Consequently kenjutsu kata, a carefully controlled training method, was developed in a pre-arranged manner. Movements initially were based on patterns established in real fights, but as peace threw its net over the Tokugawa period in 1603-1868, some ryu discarded practical combat applications in order to give emphasis to aesthetic, spiritual, and mental development. This trend gradually brought kenjutsu closer to the do form (budo).
In 1710s Nakanishi Chuta further contributed to the dilution of the combat values of kenjutsu. He required all of his students to wear protective armor in training and he further devised a replacement for the dangerous bokken, a multisectioned bamboo mock sword later to be called the shinai. The training with the shinai was not kenjutsu but named shinai-geiko.
Our group named Matsukaze is located in Vallensbæk, Denmark.
The contact person of our kenjutsu group is Mr. Kjær. Email: dk(at)matsukaze.dk