curriculum-battoujutsushoden

Battoujutsu Shoden

Battoujutsu (抜刀術) is a sub-specialisation of kenjutsu (刀術) focusing on the drawing the Japanese long-sword. Battoujutsu shoden is a foundational module that teaches the basic principles and concepts of drawing a sword and protecting against disarmament. 

The fundamentals of battoujutsu are split into three levels; shoden, chuuden and jouden or beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Battoujutsu shoden is made up of 18 forms split into three categories, drawing postures [battougamae] (抜刀構), drawing cuts [battougiri] (抜刀切) and disarm defence [shuutoudori] (守刀捕). These three areas are called Battou Roppou Battougamae, Battou Roppou Battougiri and Battou Roppou Shuutoudori respectively. 

These forms are designed to reinforce muscle memory and practice good martial habits.

Battoujutsu Shoden Battougamae - 抜刀術初伝抜刀

Battouamae (抜刀構) are postures or biomechanical structures of the body for specific use in drawing the long-sword. The kamae practiced in Battoujutsu are derived from the Gyokko Ryu or Jade Tiger School.

Gedan no Kamae - 下段の構 (Low Level Posture): The lead leg faces forward toward the opponent and the rear leg faces away toward the path of escape or evasion. The tsuka (hilt) faces down toward the opponent's lead foot. Pull the tsuka (hilt) and saya (scabbard) out in a downward diagonal. 

Chuudan no Kamae - 中段の構 (Middle Level Posture): The lead leg faces forward toward the opponent and the rear leg faces away toward the path of escape or evasion.  The tsuka (hilt) faces toward the opponent's hip. Pull the saya (scabbard) out of the belt and thrust it down toward the ground in a diagonal. 

Seigan no Kamae - 青眼の構 (True Eye Posture): The lead leg faces forward toward the opponent and the rear leg faces away toward the path of escape or evasion.  The tsuka (hilt) faces toward the opponent's eyes. Pull the saya (scabbard) out of the belt and thrust it toward the eyes in an upward diagonal. 

Joudan no Kamae - 上段の構 (High Level Posture): The lead leg faces forward toward the opponent and the rear leg faces away toward the path of escape or evasion.  The tsuka (hilt) faces up in a diagonal. Pull the saya (scabbard) out of the belt and thrust it up in an upward diagonal. 

Hassou no Kamae - 八相の構 (Eight Aspects Posture): The lead leg faces forward toward the opponent and the rear leg faces away toward the path of escape or evasion.  The tsuka (hilt) faces straight up. Push the saya (scabbard) down, while pulling it across the stomach so it is sitting vertically in the belt.

Kuji no Kamae - 九字の構 (Nine Character Posture): The lead leg faces forward toward the opponent and the rear leg faces away toward the path of escape or evasion.  The tsuka (hilt) faces back away from the opponent. Pull the saya (scabbard) out of the belt and thrust it toward the opponent parallel with the ground.

Battouamae (抜刀構) are critical to effective drawing, evasion and armed defence. The core principles of the Battougamae form the foundation for Battougiri (drawing cutting) and Shuutoudori (disarm defence). All martial arts training begins and ends at posture. Without a strong understanding of posture and consistent training, any future technical training will be less effective.

Battoujutsu Shoden Battougiri - 抜刀術初伝抜刀

Battougiri (抜刀切) refers six basic techniques (waza) [技] that are designed to align the body and teach proper biomechanics. These waza are represented as drawing methods and cutting directions.

Battougiri Sage - 抜刀切下 (Cutting from Below)Move into gedan no kamae, then pull the scabbard (saya) and hilt (tsuka) down toward the opponent's lead foot. Pull the scabbard off the blade and cut up with a rising cut (kiri sage). 

Battougiri Ichimonji -  抜刀切一文字 (Cutting Horizontally)Move into chuudan no kamae, then pull the scabbard (saya) and hilt (tsuka) forward toward the opponent's pelvis, while turning the blade and scabbard in the direction of the cut. Pull the scabbard off the blade and cut across with the blade in a horizontal cut (kiri ichimonji).

Battougiri Kesa -  抜刀切袈裟 (Cutting the Stole)Move into Joudan no kamae, then pull the scabbard (saya) and hilt (tsuka) upward in a diagonal. Pull the scabbard off the blade and cut across with the blade in a diagonal cut (kiri kesa).

Battougiri Tsuki 抜刀突 (Drawing Thrust)Move into seigan no kamae and thrust into the opponent's face with the scabbard (saya) and hilt (tsuka). Pull the scabbard off the blade and draw the tsuka (hilt) back while flipping the blade to face the opponent, then thrust forward in an upward diagonal.

Battougiri Age - 抜刀切上 (Cutting from Above): Move into hassou no kamae, then push the scabbard (saya) and hilt (tsuka) down and in line with your body. Pull the blade up out of the scabbard and cut down with a cut from above (kiri age). 

Battougiri Jouhou - 抜刀切上方 (Cutting Diagonally Upward)Move into kuji no kamae and pull the scabbard (saya) and hilt (tsuka) away from the opponent. Pull the scabbard off the blade and cut up with the blade in a diagonal rising cut (kiri jouhou).

These Battougiri (drawing cuts) need to be practiced consistently to develop accuracy, flow and good structure. The more these cutting techniques are practiced, the greater the speed and efficacy of the cut. Control is key when practicing these techniques, ensure the blade starts and ends exactly where you want it to. 

Battoujutsu Shoden Shuutoudori - 抜刀術初伝守刀取

Shuutoudori (守刀取) are evasions and counter-captures to protect the weapon from being disarmed. 

Omote Gyaku - 表逆 (Outside Reverse): Cover the hilt (tsuka) with your right hand and move into chuudan no kamae. Draw the hilt back and roll the blade anti-clockwise to the left with the whole body, while shifting the rear leg around.

Ura Gyaku - 裏逆 (Inside Reverse): Cover the hilt (tsuka) with your right hand and move into chuudan no kamae. Draw the hilt forward and roll the blade clockwise to the right with the whole body, while shifting the rear leg around.

Keri Sage - 蹴下 (Low Kick): Cover the hilt (tsuka) with your right hand and move into gedan no kamae. Drop the hilt low and move the rear leg around, then kick into the opponent.

Tsuki - 突 (Thrust): Cover the hilt (tsuka) with your right hand and move into seigan no kamae. Thrust the hilt forward into the opponents face or chest.

Kiten Age - 起転 上 (Turning Strike): Drop the blade into gedan no kamae. Bring the right hand up into kiten ken then strike down to the opponent's forearm (nagare), while shifting the rear leg around. 

Fudou Sage - 不動下 (Immovable strike): Bring the blade up into joudan no kamae. Bring the right hand down into fudou ken, then strike up into the opponent's elbow or bicep.

An important concept to remember when considering armed combat is that the weapon may be in danger of being disarmed or stopped before the draw. In holistic martial arts training, being capable of dealing with an opponent unarmed is just as critical as being able to use the weapon itself. Shuutoudori ensures that a martial artist is always in control, even when the weapon is being threatened by the opponent.