Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Sword Masters

Kendo has a very long and rich history of development in Japan. Some of the legendary sword masters of ancient Japan left writings to explain their philosophy and methods. Even though they are not really practitioners of the modern kendo, nevertheless, their philosophies and methods became a part of it.

Sword Masters That Influenced Kendo

Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵, 1584 – 1645)

Musashi, as he was often simply known, also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was an expert Japanese swordsman and rōnin (a masterless Samurai). He became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He was the founder of Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship and the author of The Book of Five Rings (五輪の書 Go Rin No Sho), a book on strategy, tactics, and philosophy that is still studied today.

In Musashi’s last book, The Book of Five Rings (五輪書 Go Rin no Sho), Musashi seems to take a very philosophical approach to looking at the “craft of war”; “There are five ways in which men pass through life: as gentlemen, warriors, farmers, artisans and merchants.

4407649443_69775e016a_z

Miyamoto Musashi as depicted on a drawing in Suntory Museum, Osaka. (Photo by akaitori on Flickr)

Throughout the book, Go Rin No Sho, the idea which Musashi pushes is that the “way of the strategist” (Heihō 兵法) is similar to how a carpenter and his tools are mutually inclusive, e.g. — a carpenter can do nothing without his tools, and vice versa. This too, he compares to skill, and tactical ability in the field of battle.

Initially, Musashi notes that throughout China and Japan, there are many “sword fencers” who walk around claiming they are strategists, but are, in fact, not — this may be because Musashi had defeated some such strategists, such as Arima Kihei.

The idea is that by reading his writings, one can become a true strategist from ability and tactical skill that Musashi had learned in his lifetime. He argues that strategy and virtue are something which can be earned by knowing the ways of life, the professions that are around, to perhaps learn the skills and knowledge of people and the skills of their particular professions.

Yagyu Munenori (柳生 宗矩, 1571-1646)

Yagyū Munenori was a Japanese swordsman, founder of the Edo branch of Yagyū Shinkage-ryū, which he learned from his father Yagyū “Sekishusai” Muneyoshi. This was one of two official sword styles patronized by the Tokugawa Shogunate (the other one being Ittō-ryū). Munenori began his career in the Tokugawa administration as a hatamoto, a direct retainer of the Tokugawa house, and later had his income raised to 10,000 koku, making him a minor fudai daimyo (vassal lord serving the Tokugawa), with landholdings around his ancestral village of Yagyū-zato. He also received the title of Tajima no Kami (但馬守).

Munenori was a long time sword instructor for the first two Tokugawa shoguns and at the age of forty five became the sword instructor for the future shogun Iemitsu. Munenori became very close to Iemitsu, advising him in many matters other than swordsmanship. Munenori was one of the few masters that advocated the use of an early form of bamboo shinai and an early form of kendo armor for use while practicing swordsmanship.

References:

1. Kendo. Wikipedia.

2. Sword Masters of Ancient Japan. Best Kendo.

3. Featured Image from Kai Pan on Flickr

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

10933010884_bef367e053_z

Kendo, The Way of the Sword – History

Kendo, or the “way of the sword,” is similar to forms of fencing seen in other lands. Two contestants wearing armor to protect the face, chest, and arms confront each other with bamboo swords called shinai. Today, it is widely practiced within Japan and many other nations across the world. The following two tabs change […]

Read Article

kagamimochi

New Year Holidays in Japan: Mochi

Japan is home to different types of cakes and snacks. Every prefecture has their own version of a snack. One of the popular food in Japan especially during the New Year holiday season is mochi or the Japanese rice cake. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) […]

Read Article

A couple enjoying the view at Ginshoji

Momijigari: Hunting for Autumn Colors

I have never been to any form of hunting trip till my friends and I head out to Kyoto this year to experience Momijigari which literally translates to maple leaf (momiji) hunting (gari). Just like Hanami (sakura viewing) in spring, Momijigari in autumn is well rooted in the Japanese culture and recently has also gained […]

Read Article

buddha -mt-shirataki-

Mt. Shirataki and the Love Rock

I thought we already reached our destination after losing liters of sweat pushing our bicycles and ourselves following the steep road going up to the mountain. I was wrong. We just reached the wide parking area and there we were still half way from the top. But even so, the scenery from there was already very […]

Read Article

DSCN3996

Kotoba Asobi – Goroawase 2

In our last kotoba asobi post, we learned about goroawase or substituting number pronunciations to make a new word or phrase. Goroawase is used as a mnemonic technique, especially in the memorization of numbers such as dates in history, scientific constants, and phone numbers. Goroawase as mnemonics Mnemonics are used to aid memorization of certain […]

Read Article

Men_(kendo)

Kendo, The Way of the Sword – Kendo Equipment

In our previous post about kendo, we learned about its history. In this post, we will learn about the kendo equipment. As the All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF) restored kendo and fight against the ban after the declaration of Japan’s independence, they then published “The Concept and Purpose of Kendo”. The Purpose of Kendo Its […]

Read Article

sumo2

Sumo: More Than Just a Martial Art – Origin

Sumo (相撲, spelled as sumou in romaji, literally means “striking one another”) is a competitive full-contact wrestling sport where a rikishi (wrestler) attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring (dohyō) or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts […]

Read Article

School in Takahashi

Takahashi in Okayama, Japan -Part 2-

The Bicchuu Matsuyama Castle in Takahashi city(2) When I reached the top, I found a tea server. “Bicchuu Uji-cha”, a local tea was served and it was free. “Thank god, I can cool my throat”, I thought, but surprisingly it was steaming hot! I didn’t want to waste my tea, so I waited until it […]

Read Article

kinrou kansha

Otsukaresama! – Kinrou Kansha no Hi or Labor Thanksgiving Day

Every 23rd of November is Kinrou Kansha no Hi (勤労感謝の日).The name of the holiday is made up of two words kinrou (勤労) which means labor, and kansha (感謝) which means gratitude. So, technically the holiday is translated as Labor Thanksgiving Day. As an effect of the Happy Monday System, because November 23 this year was […]

Read Article

Castle

Takahashi in Okayama, Japan -Part 1-

If you go to the Fukiya village by public transport, you need to go to Takahashi, which is also a lovely place to visit. There are old samurai residences, a temple with Japanese garden, and above all, a castle on the mountain. The name of the city is “Takahashi”, but the train station is “Bicchuu […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑