Kenjutsu

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Kenjutsu (剣術?), meaning "the art of the sword"[1]:172, is a term for classical Japanese sword arts (or koryū), in particular those which predate the Meiji Restoration. It is sometimes used more generally to describe any martial art which makes use of the Japanese sword.

The exact activities undertaken when practising kenjutsu vary with school, but commonly include practice of basic techniques (kihon) without opponent and techniques where two persons paired kata (featuring full contact strikes in some styles).[2] Historically schools incorporated sparring under a variety of conditions, from using solid wooden bokutō to use of bamboo sword (shinai) and armor (bogu).[1]:XII, XIII In modern times sparring in Japanese swordsmanship is more strongly associated with Kendo.

Contents

History

Early development

It is thought likely that the first iron swords were manufactured in Japan in the fourth century, based on technology imported from China via Korean peninsula.[3]:1 While swords clearly played an important cultural and religious role in ancient Japan,[3]:5, 14 it is in the Heian period when the globally recognised curved Japanese sword was developed, and when swords became an important weapon, as well as a symbolic item.[3]:15 No known Kenjutsu lineage survives from this period, the oldest schools still in existence today arose in the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573), known for long periods of inter-state warfare. Three major schools emerged during this period.[1]:XII

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