The art of the sword saints (剣聖)
This year Sensei asked us to spend some time and polish our sword skills so its only appropriate that I would write on the subject to stimulate students of the art to polish their physical and spiritual swords until it shine (renshu).
Takamatsu Sensei once said “Even if some are called masters, how many other masters were there?” The demeanor of the true master has a beauty that resembles nature itself. It is therefore that many of the true masters were never recorded in the history books rather their achievements and knowledge passed by word of mouth from master to disciple.
Our sword system is called Bikenjutsu (secret sword art). It is said that in the Heian Era (1141), the system founder Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru was not satisfied with his skill and committed himself to 3 years intense training in a mountain cave called Inome Dokutsu. During this time he developed special sword techniques and named his style Kukishin Ryu Happo Hikenjutsu. Happo refers to eight categories of martial arts (Taijutsu, Bojutsu, Yarijutsu etc….) and Hikenjutsu refers to special sword techniques. This combined with the Togakure Ryu Bikenjutsu, Koto Ryu Bikenjutsu and Shinden Fudo Ryu Iai Goshi provides a comprehensive sword system.
There many types of sword techniques such as Tanto Jutsu (knife), Kodachi Jutsu (short sword), Daito Jutsu (long sword), Nito Jutsu (two sword techniques), Tachi Jutsu (very long sword) & Ninja To (special Ninja sword).
The true understanding sword techniques must be combined with a good foundation in Taijutsu (body arts), Bojutsu (staff arts), Shinjusu (spiritual and mental arts).
According to history the first swords imported from China had a straight, double-edged blade. The curvature of the Katana as we know it today developed with the advancements in metallurgy and improved forging and tempering process. During the- Muromachi period (1336-1573) swords began to resemble the form that is most recognizable today. It was during this time that the custom of wearing two swords became popular.
I will expand further on the subject at the upcoming Canadian Taikai and at the 2009 Ninja Camp