Ono-ha Itto Ryu Kenjutsu
is the premier martial art of Japan. Over 1,000 years of research, study, and
refinement have been dedicated to this complex and esoteric form of combat.
Generations of swordsmen devoted their lives to the exploration of every
possible application of the Japanese sword. Not satisfied with mere variations
in technique, the old masters of Japan also examined the strategy and philosophy
of the sword in an unending quest for
Ono-ha Itto Ryu is
recognized as the oldest of many kenjutsu schools that developed from the
original teachings of Ito Ittosai Kagehisa. Ono-ha was founded by Ono Jiroemon
Tadaaki (1565–1628), the immediate successor to Ittosai and a renowned
swordsman who went on to become an instructor to both the second and third
Tokugawa shoguns. According to Takeda Tokimune, Ono-ha Itto Ryu was one of the
styles of swordsmanship practiced within the Aizu clan since the founding of the
clan in the mid-17th century. His father, Takeda Sokaku, mastered the
art at the Yokikan dojo of Shibuya Toma in Aizu Bange-cho during the late
Edo-period. Tokimune formalized the swordsmanship passed on to him by his father
as Ono-ha Itto Ryu Sokaku-den, and awarded menkyo to just a few persons,
including Okabayashi Shogen in 1985.
Our kenjutsukai trains as a study group under the guidance and authority of Rodney Uhler and Mitsuko Hashimoto, both senior students of Okabayashi Sensei. Uhler Sensei received an Itto Ryu menkyo from Okabayshi Sensei in 2009, prior to moving back to the United States after having lived for 16 years in Japan.
training, we study the use of the long sword (tachi) and the short
“companion” sword (kotachi). The primary curriculum focuses on paired
practice with wooden swords (bokuto), while we include as supplemental
study solo practice of forms and test-cutting (tameshigiri) with live
Students must acquire a Japanese sword or iaito, approved for use in class, in order to participate in this training. Fortunately, there are now a wide variety of sources for proper katana of modern manufacture, some of which are modestly priced but authentic in design and entirely acceptable for use in training. We can provide recommendations.
Specific uniform and equipment requirements exist, as well —
new students are provided a detailed list to be used to order from trusted
The practice of
kenjutsu is particularly suited to those students seeking the depth and
sophistication of weapons arts, students who are ready to pursue precise,
demanding and intellectually challenging training.
Persons interested in the study of kenjutsu should understand that expectations of students are high, particularly with regard to the amount of practice that must be accomplished on one’s own time outside the dojo. The expense of training is also considerably greater than is the case for aikido, due to the cost of uniforms and equipment, and fees in addition to regular tuition for weekend intensive training sessions that are scheduled approximately quarterly with our teachers.Kenjutsu practices are held Monday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The Monday evening practice is preceded by a one-hour, “open-mat” period, during which students can practice on their own or receive individual assistance and instruction. Persons applying to train in swordsmanship must be aged 16 years or older.