Takano Sasaburo’s Kendo Kyohon: Pre-War Kendo Waza

The following is a translation of waza descriptions from Takano Sasaburo sensei’s book Kendo Kyohon, published in 1930. The translations were done by Kent Enfield and serialised here on kenshi 24/7 back in 2009.

During the end of year article clean-up that I usually do, I temporarily archived the series (6 posts) with the aim of bringing it all together and presenting it as a single article on the site at some point. Since the last post on the site was replete with pre-war kendo video, and because some people commented about the techniques used on the kenshi 24/7 facebook page, I thought it was about time I made an effort to repackage and re-present Kent’s amazing work. Here it is.

(Please note that the picture at the top and the video below have nothing to do with the Kendo Kyohon itself, they are just for illustration purposes.)


Introduction

Discussions of pre-war kendo pop up from time to time with people proposing what it was like.  It seems that those proposals are often supposition based on what someone wishes or imagines it was like instead of the sources that are available.  To that end, I’m translating portions of Takano Sasaburo’s Kendo Kyohon into English.

Kendo Kyohon was originally published in 1930, and much of it is repetition from his prior work, Kendo, published in 1915.

This post is split into six sections. The first four will be his “fifty varieties of technique” broken into four sections: men, tsuki, kote, and do. The fifth will be tsubazeriai and taiatari, and the sixth kumiuchi (grappling, and throwing). The curriculum of 50 techniques is a reduction and reworking of a curriculum of 68 techniques described by Chiba Shusaku. The 50-technique version also appears in Kendo, with the only differences being slight differences in phrasing and more old-fashioned grammar.

I’d like to make one note on the translation. Takano sensei describes the two participants as “I” [我] and “the enemy” [敵]. I have switched first-person declaratives to second-person imperatives, as that is much more natural in modern English.


技法五十種

劍道では、或一二の特に熟練した得意の技を持つてゐることは、頗る有利なものであるが、得意な技に偏して、技に變化がなかつたり、他の技に不熟練なのは宜しくない。種々なる技法に習熟して、場合に應じて巧みに之を用ふるやうにしなければならぬ。次に最も基本的で、且普通に應用し得る技五十種を擧げる。漸次是等の技法を試み、之を習熟するやうに努むべきである。

Fifty Varieties of Technique

In kendo, having a certain one or two favorite techniques at which you are proficient is advantageous, but it is not good to be biased toward your favorite techniques, without any variety or being skilled at other techniques.  You must master many techniques, so that they can be used skillfully to respond to the situation.  The 50 most basic yet typically easy to use techniques are listed below.  You should gradually try these techniques and work to master them.

其の一 面十八種
Section 1 Eighteen for Men

攻込み面
敵を下段・中段又は上段等にて攻込み、隙を見て面を撃つ。

Semekomi Men
While attacking the enemy from gedan, chudan, or jodan, see an opening and strike men.

出頭面
互に下段・中段等にて相對し、敵の進まんとする出頭の面を撃つ。

Degashira Men
While facing each other in gedan or chudan, strike men when the enemy begins to try to advance.

正撃面
敵が中段に構へて居り、下段に直す瞬間正撃面を撃つ。

Shogeki Men
When the enemy is in chudan, strike shomen the moment the enemy moves to gedan.

NOTE: I am unsure of the pronunciation of 正撃.

半身撃面
我は上段、敵は下段等にて敵より突き來るを、左若しくは右に披き、半身になつて敵の太刀を外し、左若しくは右片手にて敵の半面を撃つ。

Hanmigeki Men
You are in jodan, and the enemy is in gedan etc.  As the enemy thrusts, open to either the enemy’s left or right and take hanmi, avoiding the enemy’s sword.  Strike the enemy’s yokomen with one hand, either left or right.

諸手正面
互に下段・中段等にて相對して居る時、敵が我が右籠手へ撃つて来るのを、體を敵の左に披き、我が籠手を外し、半身體となつて敵の正面を撃つ。

Morote Shomen
When facing each other in gedan, chudan, etc., as the enemy tries to strike your right kote, open your body to the left of the enemy, removing your kote.  Assume hanmi and strike the enemy’s shomen.

抜面
互に下段・中段等にて相對して居り、敵が我が右籠手へ撃つて来る時、左足より一歩退き、受止めずして抜き、其の儘諸手にて太刀を半ば振上げ撃つ。

Nuki Men
Facing each other in gedan, chudan, etc., when the enemy strikes at your right kote, take one step backward from the left foot and dodge without blocking.  From there, swing your sword halfway up with both hands and strike.

諸手上段面
敵が下段或は中段等に守つて居るのを、上段より隙を見て面を撃つ。場合により敵の籠手を撃つこともある。此の撃方は敵の出端を撃つのが宜しい。

Morote Jodan Men
When the enemy is defending in gedan or chudan, etc., from jodan, when you see an opening, strike men. Depending on the situation, you can also strike the enemy’s kote. The correct striking method for this is to strike the enemy the moment they begin to move.

片手上段面
敵が上段・中段等に守つて居るのを、右又は左の片手上段より面を撃つ。時により籠手を撃つこともある。

Katate Jodan Men
When the enemy is defending in jodan or chudan, etc., from left or right katate jodan, strike men. Depending on the time, you can also strike kote.

左相上段面
雙方共に左上段にて相對して居る時、上段より面を撃つ。時により籠手を撃つこともある。機の熟するを待ち、敵より撃ち來らんとする所を撃つのが宜しい。

Hidari Ai Jodan Men
When both parties are facing each other in hidari jodan, strike men from jodan. Depending on the time, you can also strike kote.  Wait for the opportunity to develop.  The correct time to strike is when the enemy comes to strike.

右相上段面
彼我同じ右相上段にて相對して居る時,上段より面を撃つ。時により籠手を撃つこともある。其の他前項の通り。

Migi Ai Jodan Men
When both you and he are facing each other in migi ai jodan, strike men from jodan.  Depending on the time, you can also strike kote.  Other than this, it is in accordance with the previous paragraph.

摺上面
互に下段又は中段に構へて相對して居る時,敵より我が面に撃ち來るを、上段に摺上げ面を撃つ。

Suriage Men
When facing each other in gedan or chudan, as the enemy comes to strike your own men, slide up [suriage] to jodan and strike men.

應じ返し面
雙方右と同じ構にある時、敵より我が面に撃ち來るを受流し、其の儘應じ返しに面を撃つ。時により籠手を撃つ。

Ojikaeshi Men
When both parties are in the same kamae as above, as the enemy comes to strike your men, perform ukenagashi and from there strike men in response.  Depending on the time, you strike kote.

巻落し面
雙方右と同じ構にて相對して居る時,敵より我が面へ撃ち來るを、右又は左に巻落し面を撃つ。

Makiotoshi Men
When both parties are facing each other in the same kamae as above, as the enemy comes to strike your men, perform makiotoshi to either the left or the right and strike men.

NOTE: This makiotoshi waza is an oji waza in response to men, so it is clearly not the same technique as the modern shikake waza with the same name.  As it can also be followed by tsuki (listed in the next section) instead of men I believe it is probably similar to the makiotoshi of Shinto Muso Ryu.

張面
雙方右と同じ構にて相對して居る時,敵の太刀の中央部を張り、其の儘面を撃つ。

Hari Men
When both parties are facing each other in the same kamae as above, slap the middle portion of the enemy’s sword and from there strike men.

手面
雙方右と同じ構にて相對して居る時,敵より我が面へ撃ち來るを、其の右籠手を押へ、其の儘一歩踏込み、てを伸ばして面を撃つ。

Osae Kote Men
When both parties are facing each other in the same kamae as above, as the enemy comes to strike your men, press his right kote and, from there, step in one step, stretch out your arms, and strike men.

攻籠手面

雙方右と同じ構にて相對して居る時,敵の右籠手を撃たんと攻め、敵が其の籠手を防ぐ所を、透さず飛び込み面を撃つ。

Seme Kote Men
When both parties are facing each other in the same kamae as above, threaten to strike the enemy’s right kote.  When the enemy protects his kote, without a moment’s delay, fly in and strike men.

竹刀押へ面
敵中段、我は下段に構へ相對して居り、敵より我が面へ撃ち來るを、其の太刀の中柄を押へ、敵の構の崩れると同時に、半ば振上げ諸手にて面を撃つ。

Shinai Osae Men
When facing each other, the enemy in chudan and you in gedan, as the enemy comes to strike your men, press down on the middle of their tsuka.  At the same time as the enemey’s kamae crumbles, swing up halfway with both hands and strike men.

NOTE: If this is the technique I think it is, it appears in the Nihon no Kobudo video of Ono-ha Itto Ryu.  As the enemy cuts, you catch the tsuka with your monouchi, move it down to the back and side, then cut.

捨身面
敵中段、我は下段に構へ相對して居る時、此方より敵の右籠手を攻める。敵が中段の構を下段に直し防がんとする所を、透さず身を捨て飛び込み、手を十分に伸ばして面を撃つ。

Sutemi Men
When the enemy is in chudan and you are in gedan, from there attack the enemy’s right kote.
When the enemy defends by changing from chudan to gedan, without a moment’s delay, fly in with abandon and, adequately stretching out your arms, strike men.


In part one I translated the section of Takano Sasaburo’s Kendo Kyohon describing 18 techniques for striking men. Part two is 13 techniques for thrusting.  One important point not included in this section is that Takano sensei considers tsuki to contain three distinct techniques: mae zuki, omote zuki, and ura zuki—in the same way that men is divided into shomen, hidari men, and migi men.  Because of this, I will include his section on how to thrust [突方] from the early chapter on basic practice [基本練習] that describes these three variations.

前突
両手をを一様に絞り、體を進めると同時に両腕を伸ばし、敵の咽喉部を突く。

Mae Zuki
Thrust at the enemy’s throat, wringing both hands equally and stretching out your arms at the same time you move your body forward.

表突
両手を絞り、刃を稍右方に向け、同時に両腕を伸ばし、敵の表(左方)より體を進めると同時に咽喉部を突く。少しく右斜前方に右足より進み、左足の之に伴ふことが肝要である。

Omote Zuki
Wring both your hands, and turn the edge slightly to the right.  At the same time, stretch out your arms, and thrust to the throat while advancing your body towards the enemy’s omote (left side).  It is essential to advance your right foot slightly diagonally to the right and to accompany it with the left.

裏突
両手を絞り、刃を稍左方に向け、両腕を伸ばし、敵の裏(右方)より少しく左斜前方に體を進めると同時に咽喉部を突く。

Ura Zuki
Wring your hands, and turn the edge slightly to the left.  Stretch out your arms, and thrust to the throat at the same time as you advance your body a little bit diagonally to the left, to the enemy’s ura (right side).

Now, on to the section describing techniques that result in a thrust.

其の二 突十三種
Section 2 Thirteen for Tsuki

前突
諸手にて前より敵を突く。

Mae Zuki
Using both hands, thrust to the enemy from the front.

片手突
片手にて表又は裏より敵を突く。

Katate Zuki
Using one hand, thrust to the enemy from either omote or ura.

二段突
互に下段或は中段にて構へて居る時、我より右籠手を撃たんとせめ、敵下段に應じ防ぐ所を裏より突く。

Nidan Tsuki
When facing each other in either gedan or chudan, threaten to strike the enemy’s right wrist.  When the enemy changes to gedan to defend, thrust from the ura side.

切落突
互に中段にて相對して居る時,敵より突き来り、或は撃ち來るを、切落し諸手にて突く。

Kiriotoshi Zuki
When facing each other in chudan, as the enemy comes to thrust or strike, cut down the attack [kiriotoshi] and thrust with both hands.

表片手突
雙方右と同じ構にある時、敵が太刀を下段に下げろ所を見すまし、左片手にて表より突く。

Omote Katate Zuki
When you both are in the same kamae as above, when you see the enemy lower his sword to gedan, thrust from the omote side with one hand.

裏突
雙方右と同じ構にある時、敵の太刀を右より押へ、諸手にて突く。

Ura Zuki
When you are both in the same kamae as above, press the enemy’s sword from the right and thrust with both hands.

入突
雙方下段の構にて相對して居る時、敵より突き来るを、手を返して引入れ、突き返して突く。

Ire Zuki
When you are facing each other in gedan, as the enemy comes to thrust, turn over your hands, pull in, and counter the thrust with a thrust.

NOTE:  This is the name Takano sensei uses for the main technique of tachi no kata no sambonme.

籠手押前突

敵中段、我は下段にて相對して居る時、敵の右籠手を撃ち、表より敵の太刀の鍔元を押へ、其の儘突き込む。

Kote Osae Mae Zuki
When the enemy is in chudan and you are in gedan, strike the enemy’s right kote, press on the tsubamoto of the enemy’s sword from omote, and from there thrust in.

出頭突
敵下段、我は中段にて相對し、敵より進まんとする頭を、諸手にて太刀を眞直に向へ伸ばせば、敵より自然に突き掛る。

Degashira Tsuki

Facing each other, the enemy in gedan and you in chudan, as the first enemy advances, if you extend the sword directly forward with both hands, the enemy will naturally run into your thrust.

上段變化突
敵下段,我は左上段にて敵より進まんとする頭を、上段より其の太刀を誘ひ引入れ突く。

Jodan Henka Tsuki
As the enemy is in gedan and you are in hidari jodan, as the enemy first begins to advance, from jodan match up with their sword, pull it in, and thrust.

NOTES: The action of pulling in is described using the same language as is used in irezuki, 引入れ–hikiire, suggesting the two use similar mechanics.  Also, while in current Japanese 誘う means “invite”, “lure”, “induce”, the character has an archaic reading いざなう as well as an slightly different meaning along the lines of “go along together with”.  Chiba Shusaku describes the analogous technique in his curriculum,  jodan hikiire zuki, against the enemy’s katatezuki using the phrase “此の方上段より其の太刀に添ひ、引き入れて突く”–“you meet their sword from jodan, pull in, and thrust”.  The pertinant verb in this description is 添ふ (そう) which means “go along with” or “suit”.  It’s the intransitive partner to 添える, the soeru that give the soe in soete tsuki in seitei iai.

巻落突
互に下段中段等にて相對し居るを、敵より我が面に撃ち來る時、右或は左へ巻落し突く。

Makiotoshi Zuki
While facing each other in gedan, chudan, etc., when the enemy strikes at your men, perform makiotoshi to the left or to the right and thrust.

NOTE: As previously noted for makiotoshi men in Part 1, this makiotoshi is clearly not the same technique as the shikake waza that is more commonly known these days.  It may be similar to the makiotoshi of Shinto Muso Ryu.

拔突
雙方同前の構にて相對し居る時、敵より我が面へ撃ち來るを、左又は右斜に體を抜き、敵の太刀下を潛り抜け、咽喉部を突く。

Nuke Zuki
When you are facing each other in the same kamae as above, as the enemy strikes at your men, move your body diagonally to the left or right, escape from underneath the enemy’s sword, and thrust to the enemy’s throat.

突返突
雙方右と同じ構にて相對し居る時、敵より此方へ突き來るを、手を返して刃を敵の左に向け、突き返し突く。

Tsuki Kaeshi Zuki
When you are facing each other in the same kamae as above, as the enemy thrusts at you,  turn the blade to the enemy’s left turning over your hands and counter the thrust with a thrust.


In parts one and two of this series I translated the sections of Takano Sasaburo’s Kendo Kyohan describing techniques for men and tsuki.  In this part, I translate the section for kote techniques.

As in part two, I have included the section on how to strike kote [籠手の撃方] from the chapter on basic practice [基本練習].

籠手撃
兩臂の間から敵の籠手の見える程振上げて、正面から籠手へ撃込む。右足から進み、左足は之に伴ふのであるが、腹で進む心持で進むことが肝要である。籠手撃の場合は、手先だけで撃つやうになり易いからである。

Kote Uchi
Swing up until you can see the enemy’s kote between your arms, and strike kote from the front.  Advance from the right foot, and follow it with the left, but the feeling of advancing with your abdomen is essential.  This is because in the case of kote uchi it is easy to strike as if using just your fingers.

巻籠手撃
手元で小圓を描く心持で、切先で巻込むやうに敵の右籠手に撃込む。足の運方は前と同様。

Maki Kote Uchi
With the feeling of drawing a small circle, spiral in with your sword tip and strike the enemy’s right kote.   The footwork is the same as above.

抜籠手撃
左足を左方に踏出し、右足も之に伴つて左足の前に進め,劍尖は敵刀の下から半圓を描き、初歩の間は大きく抜き、敵の右籠手に撃込む。

Nuki Kote Uchi
Step to the left with the left foot.  Accompany it with the right foot, and advance the right foot in front of the left.  Describe a half circle under the enemy’s sword with your sword tip.  During the first step make a large evasion, then strike the enemy’s right kote.

Now the section on kote techniques.

其の三 籠手十二種
Twelve for Kote

應用籠手
敵中段、我は下段にて相對し居る時、敵の太刀の中程を押す。敵は押されまいと押し返すのを、押されつゝ其の刀を利用し、敵の太刀を外し、敵の太刀の下より巻籠手に籠手を撃つ。

Oyo Kote
When you are facing each other, the enemy in chudan and you in gedan, press the middle of the enemy’s sword.  As the enemy pushes back in order to not be pushed, make use of this and avoid his sword, wrap around under it, and strike makikote.

擔ぎ籠手
互に下段・中段等にて相對して居る時、太刀を左肩に取り、敵の右籠手を横筋違に撃つ。

Katsugi Kote
When facing each other in gedan, chudan, etc., bring your sword to your left shoulder and strike the enemy’s right kote on an angle from the side.

上籠手
雙方右と同じ構にて相對して居る時、敵が上段に構へんと上ぐる所を透さず撃つ。

Age Kote
When both parties are facing each other in the same kamae as above,  when the enemy raises up to assume jodan, strike without a moment’s delay.

出頭籠手
雙方下段構相對して居る時、敵より我が面或は籠手を撃たんとする出頭の籠手を撃つ。

Degashira Kote
When both parties are facing each other in gedan, strike kote the moment the enemy initiates striking your men or kote.

摺上籠手
雙方下段・中段等の構にて相對して居り、敵より我が面の撃ち來るを、我が太刀を右肩に取り、摺上げて敵の右籠手を撃つ。

Suriage Kote
When you are facing each other in gedan, chudan, etc., as the enemy comes to strike at your men, bring the sword to your right shoulder to perform suriage and strike the enemy’s right kote.

突沸籠手
雙方同前の構、敵より左片手にて此方に突き來るを左に拂ひ除け、敵の右籠手を撃つ。

Tsuki Barai Kote
When both are in the same kamae as above, as the enemy thrusts at you left handed, sweep it away to the left and strike the enemy’s right kote.

上段籠手
敵下段又は中段、我は上段にて面を撃たんとする色を示せば、敵が下がれば内籠手を撃つ。

Jodan Kote
When the enemy is in gedan or chudan and you are in jodan, if you show signs of striking men, the enemy will certainly try to defend against this, so strike his right kote.  If in this case the enemy lowers the tip of his sword, strike the inside kote.

右上段籠手
右上段に構へて居るのを、敵が中段又は下段より我が籠手或は面へ撃つて来る時、左足より一歩退き、大きく抜き、敵の太刀を外し、一歩踏込み右籠手を撃つ。

Migi Jodan Kote
When the enemy tries to strike your kote or men from chudan or gedan while you are in migi jodan, take one step backward from the left foot, making a large evasion and avoid the enemy’s sword, then step in one step and strike the right kote.

誘籠手
互に下段或は中段の構にて相對して居る時、敵の右籠手を撃たんと色を示せば、敵も必ず其の籠手に撃つて来るものである。それを受け、拂ひなどして敵の右籠手を撃つ。

Sasoi Kote
When facing each other in gedan or chudan, if you show signs of attacking the enemy’s right kote, the enemy will certainly try to attack your own kote.  Block, parry, etc. this and strike the enemy’s right kote.

止籠手
前項の通りに構へ、敵より我が右籠手へ撃つて来るのを、鍔元にて受止め、其の儘小さく敵の右籠手を撃つ。間合により物打の鎬にて摺上げ撃つても宜しい。

Tome Kote
In the same kamae as above, as the enemy tries to strike your right kote or men, block with the tsuba moto and from there strike the enemy’s right kote with a small motion.  Depending on the distance, you can also perform suriage with the shinogi of the monouchi then strike.

折敷籠手
前項の通りに構へ、敵より我が面へ撃つて来るのを、左の膝を突き、折敷いて撃つ。

Orishiki Kote
In the same kamae as above, as the enemy comes to strike your men, put your the left knee down on the floor and strike, kneeling.

巻籠手
雙方右と同じ構、敵より我が籠手を撃たんとする所を下より巻き、小さく籠手を撃つ。

Maki Kote
With both in the same kamae as above, as the enemy tries to strike your kote, wrap around underneath and strike kote with a small motion.


In the first three parts of this series I translated the sections of Takano Sasaburo’s Kendo Kyohan describing techniques for men, tsuki, and kote.  In this part, I translate the section for do techniques.

As in part two, I have included the section on how to strike do [胴の撃方] from the chapter on basic practice [基本練習].  Note that for basic migi do, Takano sensei uses ayumi ashi, striking with the left foot forward.

右胴
兩臂の間より敵胴の見える程振冠り,左足から稍左斜前方に進み,右足は之に伴ひ、斜左上から兩臂を伸ばして敵の右胴に撃込む。此の場合,兩腕の交叉點は體の中央前に來るやうにし、且兩腕で抱き挾み、刀の動搖せぬやうに心掛ける。刃は右に向ける。

Migi Do
Swing up until you can see the enemy’s do between your arms.  Advance slightly diagonally left with the left foot, and accompany it with the right foot.  Stretching out both arms, strike the enemy’s right do diagonally from the upper left.  In this case, the crossing of your arms comes directly in front of your body, but bear in mind not to let your sword stray, holding it between your arms.  Turn the edge to the right.

左胴
兩臂の間より敵胴の見える程振冠り,右足から右斜前方に進み,左足は之に伴ひ、斜右上から兩臂を伸ばして敵の左胴に撃込む。刃は左に向ける。

Hidari Do
Swing up until you can see the enemy’s do between your arms.  Advance diagonally to the right with the right foot, and accompany it with the left foot.  Stretching out both arms, strike the enemy’s left do diagonally from the upper right.  Turn the edge to the left.

Now the section on do techniques.

其の四 胴七種
Seven for Do

摺上胴
敵上段又は中段に構へ、我は中段又は下段に構へて相對し居る時、敵より我が面へ撃込み來るを、摺上げ、折敷きながら胴を撃つ。

Suriage Do
When you are facing each other with the enemy in jodan or chudan, etc., and you in chudan or gedan, as the enemy tries to strike your men, perform suriage, and strike do while kneeling.

折敷胴
互に下段・中段等に構へ相對し居る時、敵より我が面へ撃込み來る。其の太刀に構はずして、迅速に摺れ違ひつゝ折敷き胴を撃つ。

Orishiki Do
When facing each other in gedan, chudan, etc., the enemy will come to strike your men.  Quickly kneel and strike do, paying no heed to his sword as it passes by.

NOTE: 摺れ違ふ (surechigau–usually written 擦れ違う or すれ違う) means for two things to miss or pass by each other, but I felt that if I translated it as such, people would read it as either both missing or running past each other, neither of which is the case.

立胴
前項の通りに構へ、敵より我が面へ飛び込み手を伸ばして撃ち来るを、其の太刀に構はず如何にも早く胴に抜け、折敷きを爲さず立ちながら撃つ。

Tachi Do
In the same kamae as above, as the enemy strikes at your men, flying in and stretching out his arms, pay no heed to his sword and quickly indeed dodge and strike do.  Strike while standing and not kneeling.

片手面胴
前項の通りに構へ、敵より突いて来るのを、體を敵の左に披き、片手にて敵の左半面を撃ち、又は手を返へして敵の右胴を撃つ。

Katate Men Do
In the same kamae as above, as the enemy come to thrust, open your body to the enemy’s left and strike the enemy’s left men with one hand.  Then turning over your hands and strike the enemy’s right do.

NOTE: The 又は was a source of trouble in translating this technique. , without , is often used similarly to “moreover,” “furthermore,” “then,” or “and” in English, but 又は is, to my knowledge, exclusively used in listing alternatives.  That is, it means “or” in English.  However, translating it as such would make this into two separate techniques, katete men or do.  That doesn’t make sense given that it appears in the section on do techniques, and that katete men against tsuki was already described under hanmiuchimen.  Thus, I believe that the in the original is a mistake and have translated the sentence as if it weren’t there.  Thanks to Josh Reyer for providing a second opinion regarding this.

面籠手胴
互に中段の構にて相對して居る時、敵中段より下段に下げんとする所を、一歩踏込み正面を撃ち、一歩退きて籠手を撃ち、左足を踏出し手を返して敵の左胴を撃つ。

Men Kote Do
When facing each other in chudan no kamae, the moment the enemy tries to lower his sword to gedan, step in one step and strike shomen, take one step back and strike kote, then, stepping forward with the left foot and turning over your hands, strike the enemy’s right do.

鍔糶胴
互に鍔糶合となつた時、隙を見て立ちながら胴を撃つ。敵を押す時敵も亦押し返す。其の伸びたる手の下より撃つことがある。之は敵の力を利用する撃方である。

Tsuba Zeri Do
When together in tsubazeriai, upon seeing an opening, strike do while standing.  When you push the enemy, the enemy will push back.  Strike from under the enemy’s extended hands.  This is a method for striking using the enemy’s power.

籠手懸胴
敵上段、我は下段・中段等にて敵の籠手を撃たんとする色を示せば、敵が其の太刀を避けんとする所を迅速に飛び込み撃つ。

Kote Kakari Do
With the enemy in jodan and you in chudan, gedan, etc., if you show signs of attacking the enemy’s kote, the enemy will try to avoid your sword.  The moment he does, fly in and strike.


In the first four parts of this series I translated the sections of Takano Sasaburo’s Kendo Kyohan concerning techniques for men, tsuki, kote, and do. Part five will cover tsubazeriai and taiatari.

Tsubazeriai, taiatari, and kumiuchi are sections three through five of the chapter titled “Information about Shiai” [仕合心得].  Sections one and two of that chapter are “Normal Information” [一般の心得], which covers things like reigi and the notion of fighting fair and square, and “Preparations at Tachiai” [立合の支度].

鍔糶合
Tsubazeriai

(一)離方
敵に接近して鍔糶合となつた時は、速に離れるやうにする。離れ際が大切であつて、必ず敵の?を撃つて引くか、太刀を押へて、敵に手の出せぬやうにして、迅速に引き離れるのである。此の心得なくして、空しく引く時は、敵に乘ぜられ敗を取ることになるのである。

(1) How to Separate
When you have come to tsubazeriai, coming close to the enemy, separate quickly. The moment of separation is worthy of attention, so separate pull back quickly, either striking where the enemy is unprepared or suppressing his sword so that the enemy cannot extend his hands.  If you don’t know this and pull back ineffectively, you will be defeated by the enemy.

(二)鍔糶合の心得
鍔糶合となつた時は、身體の縮らぬやうに足腰を伸ばし、頭を起し、敵の顏と我が顏とを並べて丈較べをしても、敵に較べ勝つと思ふ程丈を高くして、强く敵の懐に入り込むのである。之によつて我が心の勇猛强固なることを敵に示し、敵を畏縮せしめるのである。此の心得があれば如何に深く入り込んでも、四肢が伸び々々として、動作も敏速自在になるのである。外形だけでなく、氣分で敵を押へることが必要である。

(2) Information About Tsubazeriai
When you have come to tsubazeriai, extend your legs and waist so that your body doesn’t shrink, lift up your face, and even compete in height lining up your face even with that of the enemy.  Make yourself tall to the point of feeling that you will defeat the enemy, and enter strongly into the space in front of the enemy (futokoro).  By doing this, you will reveal the strength and valor in your heart and make the enemy cower.  If you have this knowledge and enter quite deeply into the enemy’s space, your body will be at ease, and your movements will become free and nimble.  This isn’t just a physical matter.  You must suppress the enemy with your spirit.

體當り
Taiatari

(一)體當りの方法
體當りといふは、我が身體を以て敵の身體に衝き當たり、敵を突き退け、突き倒し、後撃せしめざる方法である。撃込むと同時に少しく顏を左に側め、右肩を出し、强く弾力あるやうに敵の胸に當たり、同時に雙拳を以て敵の腭に向つて掬ひ上げ、突き倒すのである。熟練すれば敵を二三間も突き退け、突き倒し得るものである。體當たりをすれば敵は突き倒されまいとして、何處かに隙の出來るものである。其の機を逸せず撃込むのである。

(1) How to do Taiatari
Taiatari is colliding your body with the enemy’s, knocking them back or knocking them down and preventing them from striking after you do (ato uchi).  At the same time as you strike, turn your face slightly to the left, put your right shoulder forward, and strike the enemy in the chest in a strong, bouncing manner.  At the same time, scoop up with both hands towards the enemy’s chin and knock them down.  If you are proficient, you can knock the enemy back two or three ken [about 3.5 to 5.5 meters] when you knock them down.  If you do taiatari, the enemy will try to not be knocked down, so you can make an opening somewhere.  Don’t miss this chance to strike.

(二)體當りの受方
敵が當つた來る時は、體を躱して之を避け、又は「入れ當たり」と稱して、我が體を一旦縮めて復た伸ばして敵に當たる。敵が强く烈しく當つて來ても、之を柔かに受けて突き外し、如何なる大力の者が突き掛けて來ても、平然として突き外し、突き返し得るやうに鍛錬すべきである。敵が强く突いて來る時には、右にでも左にでも、我が體を稍斜にして受ける時は凌ぎ易い。體當たりは平生からよく練習して置くべきである。

(2) How to Receive Taiatari
When the enemy comes to collide, shift your body and avoid it, or in what is called “ireatari“, momentarily shrink down then stretch out again to strike the enemy.  Even if the enemy comes in strongly and furiously, you can receive it easily or avoid it.  You should train until you can calmly dodge or push back even when someone of incredible strength comes at you.  When the enemy pushes strongly, if you receive by turning your body slightly diagonally to either the right or the left, it is easy to stave him off.  You should practice taiatari regularly and often.


In the first four parts of this series, I translated the sections of Takano Sasaburo’s Kendo Kyohan concerning waza for men, tsuki, kote, and do.  In part five I translated the sections about tsubazeriai and taiatari.  In this section, I translate the section on grappling (kumiuchi).

組打
Grappling

(一)劍を打落し又は打落された場合
組打は敵から組み附いて來る時、又は劍を打落された場合に行ふものである。敵の劍を打落した場合には、其の機に乘じ直に撃込むのである。若し撃ち遲れたなら、敵を近寄らせず、壓迫して行く。我が劍を撃落された場合には、敵が次の技を起さない間に、直に飛び込んで組み附くのである。直に飛び込めぬ場合は一時飛び退き、隙を見て飛び込ものである。

(1) Striking Down the Enemy’s Sword and When Your Sword is Struck Down
Grappling is something that happens when the enemy closes to wrestle or when your sword is struck out of your hands.  In the case of knocking the sword out of the enemy’s hands, take advantage of the opportunity and strike directly.  If you delay in striking, even though you don’t draw close to the enemy, he may be pressured into grappling.  In the case where your sword is knocked out of your hands, fly in straight away to wrestle before the enemy can perform another technique.  In the case where you can’t do that, jump back for a moment.  When you see an opening, fly in.

(二)組打の方法

昔の合戰では遠くからは弓矢で戰ひ、近づいては槍・薙刀・太刀などの打物を取つて渡り合ひ、それで勝負の附かぬ時は、敵を組み敷き、押へ込み、右手差を抜いて鎧の隙間を差し通し、首を掻いたのである。それに倣つて組打の場合は、敵を組み敷いて、腕を逆に取るか、面を捻つて動かぬやうにするか、或は面を捻り取るのである。劍道は劍を執つての技であるから、止むを得ざる場合の外は、組打を避けるが宜しい。我が强力を恃んで、弱い者に强ひて組み附き、組打を挑むのは宜しくない。敵が劍を打落した場合、直に撃込むことが出來なかつたならば、少しも油斷なく心で敵を壓し、然る後に拾ひ取らせるのである。昔は打物取つて勝負の附かぬ時、若しくは一方が太刀打折つて、大手を擴げ組打を挑んで來る時は、組んで利なきは明かであつても、直に之に應じ討死するを習としたのである。名を重んじ、恥を思ふ武士の襟懐まことに仰ぐべきものがある。敵の劍を撃落した場合、氣合を抜かず、許す所なく直に撃込むのが劍道の法であるが、敵の劍を落せるに附け込んで、所嫌わず撃込み、勝を得んと焦るが如きは見苦しき限りである。

(2) How to Grapple

In the battles of the past, they would fight from a distance with bows and arrows.  Coming close, they would struggle using striking weapons like spears, naginata, swords, etc.  When they couldn’t achieve victory that way, they would hold down the enemy, pin him, draw a dagger, stick it into the gaps in the armor, and cut off the enemy’s head.  Emulating that, in a grappling situation hold down the enemy, twist his arm, twist his men so that he cannot move, or twist his men completely off.

Because in kendo the techniques are concerned with the sword, outside of situations when it can’t be helped, you should avoid grappling.  If you have great strength, challenging people to grapple or wrestling with those who are weak is incorrect.

When the enemy has knocked your sword out of your hands, if he can’t immediately strike, pressure the enemy with all of your spirit and he will let you escape.  In the past when they couldn’t fight with striking weapons or one person had broken their sword and they reached out their arms to grapple, even though it was clear they would be at a disadvantage on closing, they would accept this knowing they would die in battle.  This was something that was revered in the minds of warriors who valued their reputations and had a sense of shame.  In the case when you knock the sword out of the enemy’s hands, striking immediately without any loss of spirit or letting up is the way of kendo, but taking advantage of the being able to disarm the enemy and striking anywhere, impatiently trying to achieve victory, is unseemly.

(三)劍道と柔道
けれども、平生組打の練習をして置くことも亦必要である。若し劍を打落さるゝか、敵より組み附いて來る時、組打の心得がなければ、劍の技には巧みであつても、見苦しい敗を取ることになるであらう。又暴漢等に遭遇し、止むを得ず格鬪する場合に、其の心得あれば役に立つことが多いのである。劍道と柔道とは全く別々のものではない。此の二つは譬へば簔と笠のやうなもので、一つだけでは滿足なものといへない。故に剣道を學ぶにも、機會あれば柔道をも練習して置くべきである。

(3) Kendo and Judo
However, it is still necessary to practice grappling constantly.  When the enemy’s sword is knocked away and he comes to wrestle, if you don’t have knowledge about grappling, it will probably be an ungainly defeat for you even if you are skilled with the sword.  Also, if you have an encounter with thugs and can’t avoid fighting, this knowledge will often be of use.  Kendo and judo aren’t entirely distinct things.  These two are, for example, like a mino [straw rain cloak] and kasa [conical rain hat].  You can’t say either is sufficient by itself.  Therefore, in addition to studying kendo, you should study judo as well if you have the opportunity.

NOTE: Takano sensei uses kendo as a general term for sword arts.  Elsewhere he refers to Itto Ryu kendo, Katori Shinto Ryu kendo, Kurama Ryu kendo, etc.  Thus it is quite possible that he uses judo in the same way, as a general term.

(四)足搦
尚こゝに足搦の法に就いて述べて置き度い。足搦の技に熟して居る時は、敵の氣を奪ひ、擔を寒からしむることが出來る。此の技を行ふには、敵に接近して、彼我の身體が相接觸する程にならなければ、十分に効を奏しない。其の方法は、我が左足を敵の右足の外踝に掛け、敵の脚を强く拂ふと同時に、我が太刀を敵の左頸筋に當てて强く押すのである。此の外、種々の方法がある。敵から足搦を掛けられた時は、敵の中柄、或は襦袢を捉へて立直るのである。又敵から掛けられた時も、前に突進すれば却つて敵を倒すことが出來る。決して後へは引かぬことである。又敵が足搦を掛けようとするのを察知した時には、却つて此方から掛けるやうにする。すべて足搦を行ふ時には、敵の身體が浮付いて、所謂死腰になつた時を見て掛くべきである。無理に試みる時は我が體勢を亂し、敵に乗ぜられのである。足に十分力を入れ、强く敵の脚に掛けなければならぬが、同時に腕で押す力が入らなければ役に立たぬ。 腕と脚と相伴つて掛くから、敵を顚倒させ、我が體勢も崩れることなく泰然たるを得るのである。

(4) Ashigarami
Still, I would like to write about how to do ashigarami here.  When you make use of ashigarami, you can rob the enemy of his spirit [ki] and chill his courage.  When performing this technique, if you don’t draw close enough to the enemy that your bodies are touching, it won’t have a sufficient effect.  To do this, hook your left leg around the outside of the enemy’s right ankle, and at the same time as you sweep the enemy’s leg strongly, put your sword on the enemy’s neck and push strongly.  There are many other ways besides this one.

When the enemy tries to do ashigarami on you, stay standing up by grabbing the middle of his hilt or his juban.  Moreover, when reaped by the enemy, you can knock him down instead by rushing forward.  By no means retreat backwards.  Also, when you sense the enemy is going to try ashigarami, try to reap him instead.  When performing ashigarami, you should watch for what’s called “dead hips” (shinigoshi) when the enemy’s body begins to float.

If you try it when you shouldn’t, your own posture will be broken, and you will be ridden by the enemy.  You have to reap the enemy’s leg strongly with sufficient power in your foot, but if you don’t use enough force in your push, it won’t succeed.  If you use your arms and legs together, the enemy will fall, and you will be stable without your posture being broken.

1934 Tenran-jiai (illustrated)

On the 4th and 5th of May 1934, Saineikan – a budojo located in the grounds of Tokyo Imperial Palace – was the venue of the second of three Showa-period Tenran-jiai (a budo or sports competition held in front of the Emperor). This post was mainly written in order to share some of the pictures available of the event, but I’m also using it as an opportunity to bring together related kenshi 24/7 articles.

There’s still a lot more that needs to be written both about the event itself and the people involved, but there’s no point in hoarding all these cool pictures, so here they are… enjoy!!!

(Links to related articles are after the pictures.)


Emperor Showa watching the shiai:

Saineikan:

Shinpan and competitors:

Kata (Nakayama Hakudo and Takano Sasaburo):

Competition winners (note Noma Hisashi on the right):

Finals of the professional kenshi division:

Finals of the prefectural kenshi division (Noma vs Fujimoto):

Special demonstration match (Mochida Moriji vs Ogawa Kinnosuke):

Special demonstration match (Oshima Jikida vs Ueda Heitaro):

Special demonstration match (Takano Shigeyoshi vs Nakayama Hakudo):

Special demonstration match (Saimura Goro vs Nakano Sosuke):

Special demonstration match (Jukendo):

Special demonstration (teaching children):

Various matches from throughout the two days:


Related articles on kenshi 24/7

Teikoku Kendo Kyohon – the book written by Ogawa Kinnosuke, a shinpan and special demonstration member.

The Kendo Reader – the book written by Noma Hisashi, the winner of the prefectural kenshi division.

Fujimoto Kaoru – a look into the life of the person Noma defeated to take the title.

Takano Sasaburo – the most senior sensei in attendance and head shinpan.

Saimura Goro – a shinpan and special demonstration member.

Nakayama Hakudo – a shinpan and special demonstration member.

Takizawa Kozo – information about post-WW2 Tenran-jiai and Saineikan.

(I’ll probably expand on this list as time goes on)


Video

The following video is NOT from the 1934 Tenran-jiai featured here, but one held 6 years later. Although a different shiai, I think we can assume that the execution is pretty much the same:


Source

昭和天覧試合 : 皇太子殿下御誕生奉祝。宮内省 監修。昭和9発行。大日本雄弁会講談社。

MEI-SHOBU: the ki of Naito vs the waza of Takano 名勝負:内藤高治vs高野佐三郎

Kyoto Butokuden, late Meiji period*. It’s the last tachiai of a long day but the hall is packed. The yobidashi (announcer) steps forward:

East side. Tokyo. Takano sensei !

West side. Kyoto. Naito sensei !

takanonaito2

With the call the packed audience suddenly goes quiet and an palpable feel of excitement (or perhaps expectation?) fills the air. Facing each other on the dojo floor are the two most famous swordsmen in Japan: on the east side Tokyo Koto Shihan Gakko’s Takano Sasaburo; and on the west side Busen’s Naito Takaharu. In between them moderating the tachiai stands Monna Tadashi.

The spectators sit nervously in silence wondering what kind of contest will unfold before them. Will it be an equal fight? What kind of techniques will be used? Who will be triumphant? But despite this nervousness there was no fighting mood in the air. Rather, the two sensei seemed detached.

The swordsmen bowed to each other and moved slowly into the center of the hall. Sonkyo. Finally, in the instant that they stood up, the tension between them radiated out into the audience.


Naito and Takano were born in 1862, just 4 months apart. Both were born into budo families and lived through a period of turmoil in Japan as it went through monumental cultural changes. While young they both studied kenjutsu (Hokushin Itto-ryu and Ona-ha Itto-ryu respectively) eventually heading to Tokyo to seek further instruction from the top instructors in the country – Naito under Sakakibara Kenkichi (Jikishinkage-ryu) and Takano under Yamaoka Tesshu (Muto-ryu).

In 1887, after an extended Musha-shugyo, Naito finally entered the employ as a kendo instructor in the kendo mecca that was Keishicho (the fledgling Tokyo Metropolitan police force). Takano had already entered it a year earlier in 1886. It’s almost as if they were destined to cross paths.

Their first shiai would have to wait until 1890. The event was a keishicho sponsored tournament (gekkiken-kai). At this time Takano had already moved out of his position at keishicho and was working as a kendo instructor for the Saitama police. During the competition Takano was matched up with a keishicho kenshi famed for his high-speed waza, Saruda Tosuke. However, Takano’s waza was renowned for being fast as well, and he overpowered and defeated Saruda.

As keishicho sponsored the tournament it wouldn’t be seemly for them to lose to someone working in a rival police force, even if they had once worked with them. Keishicho management’s response was to issue a command:

“Naito, take care of it.”

And with that, the future leaders of the kendo community (and creators of the modern kendo style) faced each other for the first time.

Even though they both employed their strongest techniques neither could best the other. Eventually, as time wore on and on, the shiai was called to a halt and a draw declared. Thus ended the first of many duels the pair were to have.


30 years after their first match in Tokyo they again found themselves facing off at each other, but this time they were both older, wiser, and had far more experience. In the intervening years both men had forged careers as professional kendo instructors – Takano at Tokyo koto shihan gakko and Naito at the Butokukai’s training facility Busen – and had become the top instructors in the country. Now they faced each other in the middle of the Butokuden in unmistakable seriousness as if it was a fight to the death.

During the fight the spectators felt an oppressive pressure from the shiai-jo, almost turning their blood to ice. Some people thought “I want this to finish quickly!” and others “I want this to keep going on and on!”

Just as it started softly, suddenly on Monna’s “SORE MADE” (thats enough) the shiai was over. The spectators that had been holding their breathe in excitement let out an audible sigh of relief. Even after the sensei had bowed and left the area the sense of tension remained and, for a little bit, the audience sat in stunned silence.

20140124-165817.jpg


Sources

This account is based on multiple first-hand accounts of shiai between Naito and Takano found in 3 books:

剣聖内藤高治。碧水会。高岡謙次。昭和55年発行。
宮崎茂三郎先生。高岡謙次。昭和49年発行。
剣士内藤高治。大野熊雄。昭和5年発行。

Comic pics from the manga 龍-RON-


Notes

* A precise date is not given : “The time when the Emperor or the Crown-Prince was in attendance” is the only information.
UPDATE: based on a new source, I discovered that Naito and Takaharu fought each other in 1901, 1907, and 1916 in the Butokuden (and again in 1920 at the opening of Meiji Jingu). Only scores were kept for the 1901 tachiai – it was a hikiwake. The other bouts were mohangeiko.

Saimura Goro

一、剣道は精神が本である。技は精神を体得せんがための手段である。
一、剣道の稽古は竹刀を真剣の考え使い、身を捨てて練磨することが大切です。
一、どの間に入っても、少しもの気が抜けてはいけない。

The words above are attributed to Saimura Goro, one of the the most influential kenshi in the pre-WW2 period, and one of only 5 sensei that were awarded 10 dan after the war. A liberal translation in English reads:

* The aim of kendo is to improve the spirit. The means of achieving this is through the polishing of technique.

* It’s important to think of and use the shinai as a real sword and to cultivate a positive style of kendo with no holding back (sutemi).

* During keiko you must never relax your guard whatever distance you find yourself in.

Pretty easy advice on the face of it, but the more I read it, the more difficult it seems to be.

Saimura Goro: a very brief bio

In 1906, Saimura Goro was in the first group of students that entered the Butokukai’s Bujutsu Kyoin Yoseisho (‘martial art teachers training school’ – this was later renamed to the Budo Senmon Gakko, or ‘Busen’ for short). At 18, he was the by far the youngest student in the first group. Here he studied kendo under Naito Takaharu. Naito’s kirikashi and kakarigeiko-centric keiko regime would shape not only Saimura’s physical kendo, but his attitude towards kendo itself.

(The first batch included Nakano Sosuke (20), and the next year Mochida Seiji (Moriji) would join (21). All 3 would become kendo leaders in the future, and all were awarded 10th dan. Although Mochida was older than Saimura, he was the kohai in the relationship as he entered the Yoseijo later.)

During his time in Kyoto he was infamous for his short temper and always getting into arguments. Eventually he was banished from the school and sent to Kyushu as a kendo teacher for 3 years (he was, essentially, exiled for his attitude). After this, however, he was invited back to the Yoseijo by Naito, and become a kendo instructor there.

In 1917 he retired his teaching position and moved to Tokyo in search of work. Here he lived with his wife and small children close to the breadline for many years while he built up his career. It took time, but eventually he would land teaching positions in Keishicho, the imperial police, Toyama Gakko (military), Waseda university (and accompanying schools), and the new Kokushikan senmon gakko (later, university). His influence, therefore, was large.

Saimura was the first of the Butokukai (i.e. Naito-trained) kenshi to become employed as a kendo teacher in Tokyo. At the time the style in Tokyo was said to be different:

1. As the dojo were small everyone fought at close distance;
2. Takano Sasaburo’s style of using a variety of techniques from different angles was the standard.

Saimura learnt his kendo in the bigger dojo found in Kansai and would launch attacks from a far distance. He also favoured a simpler, cleaner style of kendo, focusing mainly on men and tsuki. Saimura also taught differently – he basically brought Naito’s kirikaeshi/kakarigeiko-centric style to Tokyo (Mochida would arrive later at Noma dojo). It was due to these 2 factors that Saimura became as renowned as he did, leading him to be sought after and employed as a kendo teacher in the establishments listed above.

By the way, it’s worth noting that when Saimura first arrived in Tokyo he was surprised to find many dojo didn’t focus on kihon and had a lackadaisical approach to keiko. He was to be a leading figure in changing this attitude.

In the years leading up to WW2 Saimura would continue rotating around various dojo teaching kendo. He would also appear in all of the tenranjiai, as competitor, demonstrator, and judge.

After the reestablishment of kendo after the war Saimura became an honorary shihan to both Keishicho and Kokushikan, was awarded 10dan, and performed – with Mochida as his shidachi – kendo kata at the Tokyo Olympic Games.


Video

Saimura Goro vs Ogawa Kinnosuke (Tenranjiai, 1940):

Saimura Goro (uchidachi) and Mochida Seiji (date and location unknown, but presumably in the 1960s):


Anecdote

The ultranationalistic general Anami Korechika was appointed War Minister to a desperate Japan in April 1945. Five months later and Japan was finished. The cabinet met on the 14th of August and signed the surrender document. It just so happened that there was keiko at the army ministry dojo that very day. Anami, who has signed the surrender document earlier that day, turned up to do keiko with his sensei, Saimura. The next morning, he committed seppuku.


Source

剣聖十段斎村五郎・気の剣。スキージャーナル、1997発行。早瀬利之。

The Sword of the Samurai in the Hands of Americans

“Another new fad has come to New York – Japanese fencing. If you hear the clash of armor and clang of steel as you saunter through the brown stone districts uptown it’s wealthy young men taking lessons in palace stables and studios where the famous two handed swords to the samurai are at work. The weapon always has been described as formidable in the hands of an expert. The word “samurai” means knight, and for three thousand years he has been the ideal swordsman of Japan – always using the terrible two handed blade of his fathers.”

I get an awful lot of correspondence from readers, most of it asking me about this and that, but occasional people volunteer ideas or information. This was one such case: a Canadian gentleman by the name of Maxime Chouinard who practises koryu/iai over in Quebec, got in touch and passed me the following newspaper clippings about early kendo practise in America. Wow, I thought, this is reeeeeeeally fascinating information, specifically as an important look into a) how the general America society viewed the art and b) as an insight into some Japanese ex-pats thinking.

At the end of the Edo period when Japan finally opened up there was a large influx of people from various nationalities that went to seek their fortune in the yet undeveloped country. It’s uncertain exactly how many non-Japanese people were working in Japan, but the government hired hundreds and we can assume there were probably thousands more working in private enterprises. Through historical records we know that some of these people did study kendo (gekken/gekkiken/kenjutsu as it was variously called at that time) while there were there. In fact, some of the men that went over were charged with re-developing the Japanese military, swordsmanship included. Around about the same time – and I admit that my knowledge is a bit vague on this matter – many Japanese people also started to go abroad, whether it was to study, on business, or indeed to make a new life.

It’s probably at around this point that kendo first travelled abroad: either taken back by the non-Japanese people who had been in Japan or transported by Japanese people themselves. Maybe a bit of both.

This interesting topic is large and deserves some serious attention… unfortunately not something I have the time or resources to do so at the moment. The purpose of this article is simply to introduce the subject and hope that it creates more interest. I’m sure there are hundreds of more newspaper articles out there on this topic, probably spanning quite a few countries as well. If you have any links, please post them on facebook or comment here.

Maxime and I talked back and forth about what to do with the information here and we decided to leave writing a more in-depth, fuller article on these clippings and this subject to him. Make sure and check out Maxime’s own fascinating blog which has covered and I’m sure will cover some of the issues raised above.

For starters, please check out the quotes and corresponding articles below:

A fencing and kendo demonstration with Mark Twain in attendance, New York, 1893:

“Dueling swords were now in order… the bouts ended with a side-splitting scrimmage with Japanese singlesticks between Mr. Charles Tatham and the samurai Shilo Sacaze (sic) of Nagasaki. This epic combat showed the samurai extremely quick and clever with the peculiar bamboo stick of his native land. His odd movements and loud shouts delighted the audience with screams of laughter and applause when the samurai closed with Mr. Tatham and began to wrestle with him on the stage.”

– The New York Times, November 21, 1893 (full article)

The Japanese fencing club “Sunrise” in Honolulu, 1896:

“By way of introduction the combatants removed their kimonos and donned loose skirts and a helmet with strong iron bars across the face. Then they sheathed their bodies with stiff bamboo breastplates. Heavily padded gloves with gauntlets finished the costume. The “short sticks” are about five feet long, and are made of several pieces of bamboo fastened together. There seemed to be no call of “time” by a referee. The men stepped to the center of the room and saluted each other by a motion of the arm, and then one uttered a guttural sound signifying his unwillingness to begin the fray and they crossed sticks, the point of each being held on a level with the neck and the handle grasped with both hands. Yajimai led, and throughout the bought was acting on the offensive, while Karikawa braced himself so as to resist and ward off any blow that might be directed toward him. Once he was thoughtless. Yajimai gave him a crack on the helmet that resounded throughout the room. All the time the men were fencing they were shouting as if warning each other to look out for what might be coming.”

– Kentucky new era, 1896 (full article)

A Japanese fencing club for ex-pats (the picture at the top of this article is from this piece) from 1897:

“Everywhere in Japan since the late war they are teaching this fencing. The clubs are formed throughout Japan and they teach it in all boys’ schools. It is not merely for sport. During the late war with China the government found that it would be necessary for the people to understand how to use a sword. Japan cannot keep a standing army of any size, so her subjects have to be trained.”

– San Francisco 1897 (full article)

Annapolis 1906:

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The quote at the start of the article matches the pictures here.

– Omaha Daily Bee, 1906 (full article).