Kenjutsu is a complex term which can sometimes mean different things. Kenjutsu (剣術) means methods of the sword, but kenjutsu (拳術) means methods of the fist. At Ikari Dōjō we use both terms, but sometimes refer to kenjutsu (拳術) as kenpō (拳法). Kenjutsu/Kenpō is covered by kosshijutsu and koppōjutsu.

Kenjutsu (剣術) kamae focus on keeping the blade on the opponent or protecting the body. Each kenjutsu kamae is a snapshot in time and should not be thought of as static structures. There are also hidden techniques in the kamae like digging the blade into the ground and flicking dirt into the opponents eyes or using the metal of the blade to blind the opponent with the sun. Unlike other martial traditions, the kamae and techniques of budō are focused on victory and survival, regardless of the methods or tactics. 

The Japanese long-sword is a medium range close combat weapon, but contrary to popular belief is not a battlefield weapon. The daitō [long sword] and shōtō [short sword] were worn in peace time as symbols of authority. Although they could be used for self-defence or attack, they were primarily to show the rank/caste of the holder. The tachi [battlefield long sword] and kodachi [battlefield short sword] were carried to battle, but only as a side-arm. Samurai preferred spears and bows as their main combat weapons. 

Kenjutsu waza work on the principle of placing and cutting. Japanese swords were primarily cutting blades. Although they can pierce, slash and bludgeon, they excel at surgical cuts and precise placement. One thing to remember about Japanese swords is that they were composite blades and not as strong European blades that were made of much stronger metals. The actual blade of the katana is quite fragile and prone to chipping, cracking or breaking when meeting other metal. This is the main reason why Japanese blades shouldn't be used for hacking or striking armour. This is also why budō kenjutsu waza include grappling with the blade, because often samurai had put their opponents on the ground and then use the blade to find a weak point in the armour. 

Jutsu of kenjutsu ensure that the user is in a strong position to attack safely. Damage and breakage of the blade was a serious concern, so using the katana as a scalpel was preferable to using it as an axe. Mobility was the most prized battlefield commodity in feudal Japan and this is reflected in the jutsu of kenjutsu.

Kenjutsu kata are very logical and use multiple variables to gain an upper hand on the opponent. Like many budō kata, kenjutsu kata use grappling, unarmed striking, thrown weapons and many unconventional tactics to strike from unexpected angles and surprise the enemy.