Ono-ha Itto-ryu Kenjutsu
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. Rodney Uhler and Mitsuko Hashimoto are both senior students of Okabayashi Sensei, and visit Itten Dojo several times each year for special seminars. 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.
The Ono-ha Itto-ryu kenjutsukai studies the use of the long sword (tachi) and the short “companion” sword (kotachi). The curriculum focuses on paired practice with wooden swords (bokken), and includes as supplemental study solo practice of forms and test-cutting (tameshigiri) with live blades (shinken).
Students must acquire a Japanese sword, 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. The required uniform and wooden weapons can be ordered through the dojo.
Ono-ha Itto-ryu is most appropriate for persons wishing to train in a manner nearly identical to that experienced by the samurai hundreds of years ago, with almost all instruction conducted one-on-one, and with a direct, current link to Japan. The physical intensity is moderate, and well within the capabilities of most persons.
Ono-ha Itto-ryu kenjutsu practices are held Monday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. Persons applying to train in swordsmanship must be aged 16 years or older.