Literally "Sword Technique", kenjutsu refers specifically to a branch of Japanese martial art, mainly focused on using a katana. It has been largely supplanted by the more sport-oriented Kendo and the drawing-cutting-replacing based Iaido/Iaijutsu.
Yagyu Shinkage-ryu is among the premiere Kenjutsu schools.
by John Q. Averagestudent December 10, 2006
A master swordsman must size up his opponent. No two swordsmen fight the same. Ito Ittosai, a great Japanese swordsman was reckless in his style. “Learn by being cut” was his philosophy. He believed one should be concerned more with not losing rather than winning. Proper timing is a key element of this concept. In his book Go Rin No Sho (A Book of Five Rings), Miyamoto Musashi, remarked that his entire strategy was based on timing and rhythm. Musashi was the founder of the Nito or two sword method of fighting in Japan. It is believed that he learned the rapier and dagger techniques of the Europeans from traders in Southern Japan and used these techniques to develop his own style. In traditional martial arts, no other weapon has held the status of the sword. It is the center of training for the majority of the arts. Kenjutsu may be studied as a separate art or as a subordinate art of another major system. At the Red Dragon Ju Jitsu Dojo, the basics of Kenjutsu are required for advancement to the rank of Blue Belt. It is also taught as a stand-alone art. In terms of skills, few weapons require the demands of swordsmanship. The sword moves much faster than the fastest person, the skill in timing and judgement will benefit the Martial Artist in all other aspects of their training.
Kenjutsu should not be considered the same as Kendo. Kendo is a sport form of swordsmanship and an offspring of Ken-Jutsu. In Kendo, the targets are restricted to the head, wrist, body plate, and throat. In Ken-Jutsu, any target is fair game. The study of Kenjitsu has no belting system. It is a pure study of the art and mastery is developed through practice. Students must learn the basic stances along with the basic attacks and defenses. Mastery is derived from actual combat or Kumite using a wooden Bokken (Bokuto). After the student has been properly instructed in the techniques of combat and practices of various timing drills they are pitted against other students under the direct supervision of the Sensei who referees the match. The study of Ken-jutsu is more than merely wielding a sword. One not only learns the Kihon Dachi (basic stances) and attacks with defenses, there is much more to the study of the art of the Samurai. Any butcher can swing a sword but to be a master you must develop the mental and spiritual aspects of the art as well as the physical. Shin-Ku-I (Body, Mouth, Mind) or more accurately Action, Word, and Thought is how the Samurai were evaluated. What makes the difference between a swordsman and a master is Ken Shin Ichi Nyo, or Sword and mind as one. One must train as if the sword was a part of them, if it is looked at as a separate entity you will never develop the skill to master the art.
by Dancing with Fire January 22, 2011