Shinkendo (真剣道, 眞劍道 Shinkendō?) is a gendai budō that teaches the authentic way of samurai swordsmanship. The meaning of the name Shinkendo can be interpreted as the "real way of the sword".
Five Aspects of Swordsmanship
Shinkendo is non-competitive and is learned through the Goho Gorin Gogyo (fivefold way):
- Suburi (Swinging exercises)
- Battō-ho (Drawing techniques)
- Tanrengata (Solo forms)
- Tachiuchi (Pre-arranged sparring)
- Tameshigiri (Test cutting with real swords)
The development of Shinkendo was influenced by numerous styles of Japanese Swordsmanship including:
- Toyama-ryū Battōjutsu
- Nakamura-ryū Battōjutsu
- Ioriken Battōjutsu
- Yagyū Shinkage-ryū
- Kashima Shin-ryū
As students advance in experience, the Iaitō (unsharpened swords) is used to learn the necessary skills of drawing and sheathing with a realistic weapon. Additionally Shinkendo training includes test cutting with Shinken (real swords) against "tatami omote makiwara" (rolled up bamboo mats that have been soaked in water).
Students are also taught traditional samurai etiquette, not only for discipline and historical aspects, but to ensure everyone's safety in the dojo.
Ranking in Shinkendo is based on the older, traditional system without the usage of the modern Dan and Kyu rankings. Being a great student and being a great instructor are two different things, and therefore student ranks and instructor ranks are tested and awarded separately.
The Establishment of Shinkendo
Shinkendo is a form of Budo, or Japanese martial arts, created in 1990 by Obata Toshishiro. Mr. Obata studied and mastered many different schools of Budo in Japan, and then came to United States to distill what he had learned.
Studying true swordsmanship must also include proper philosophies (Kyogi) and techniques (Jitsugi). Shinkendo's philosophies are based on Kuyo Junikun (Nine Planets, 12 Precepts) and Hachido (The Eight-Fold Path). Together, these teachings promote the ideal of Jinsei Shinkendo: to learn valuable lessons from sword study, and incorporate them into our lives in order to live a better lifestyle.
The International Shinkendo Federation was officially established in 1994 in order to spread it to the world. Shinkendo is based on more than a thousand years of Samurai history, and was researched and developed by Obata Toshishiro in order to create a comprehensive style of swordsmanship that could be introduced to the world. Shinkendo is trademarked in the US, Japan, and other countries. The name Shinkendo and Shinkenjutsu are protected, and cannot be used without the authorization of the International Shinkendo Federation.