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Exploring the Japanese Martial Art Battōjutsu

February 17, 2018

Exploring the Japanese Martial Art Battōjutsu


Japan has a rich history of martial arts. Over the course of many centuries, it's pioneered countless martial arts like kenjutsu, iajutsu, sojutsu, ninjutsu and b attōjutsu. Some of these styles focus on direct hand-to-hand combat with an opponent, while others involve swordsmanship. Battōjutsu, for instance, falls under the latter category. To learn more about the traditional Japanese martial art battōjutsu, keep reading.

Overview of Battōjutsu

Battōjutsu is a traditional Japanese martial art that involves drawing one's sword and using it to counter an opponent's attack. The term battōjutsu is often used interchangeably with iajutsu and battō. However, battōjutsu is unique in the sense that it combines both sword drawing and counterattacking. Furthermore, battōjutsu is less eloborate than its iajutsu counterpart. This makes a popular style of sword-based martial arts for newcomers to learn.

According to Wikipedia, the term battōjutsu originated during Japan's Warring States Period (15th to 17th centuries), during which samurai warriors in feuding clans would practice drawing their swords and performing counterattacks. It's safe to say the term has since withstood the hands of time, with historians, martial arts experts and the general public alike referring to this martial art as battōjutsu.

The motions of battōjutsu are closely related to kata, which is a detailed choreographed pattern of a samurai warrior or practitioner's movement. Normally, it consists of just a few basic moves, including confronting the opponent, drawing the sword, and performing a slicing  attack. After these moves have been completed, the samurai warrior or practitioner sheaths his sword.

Battōjutsu Schools

There have been dozens of battōjutsu throughout the history of Japan. Some of the most well-known "old" schools include the Shinmei Muso Ryu Battōjutsu and the Sekiguchi Ryu Battōjutsu. The former was founded in the 16th century, while the latter was founded in the 17th century.

Some of the more modern battōjutsu schools, however, include the Toyama-ryu, Nakamura-ryu and Zen Nihon Batto Do Renmei schools. All three of these modern battōjutsu schools were founded in the 20th century, with the most recent being the Zen Nihon Batto Do Renmei, which was founded in 1977 by Nakamura Taizaburo. Of course, there are other battōjutsu schools, but these three are the most popular "modern" schools.

To recap, battōjutsu is a style of Japanese martial arts that involves drawing one's sword and using it to perform a counterattack. It's performed in just a few basic steps, usually with a live sword like the katana instead of a practice wooden or bamboo sword.


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