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Ono-ha Itto-ryu Kenjutsu (Sokaku-den)

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Martial Arts of Japan

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Koryu 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. Our visiting instructors, Rodney Uhler and Mitsuko Hashimoto, were both senior students of the late 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.

Our Itto-ryu kenjutsu-kai studies 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 blades (shinken).

Students must eventually 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. Specific uniform and equipment requirements exist, as well — aside from the shinken, all required gear can be ordered through the dojo.

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 greater than is the case for aikijutsu, due to the cost of uniforms and equipment.

Kenjutsu practices are held Mondays from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Persons applying to train in Itto-ryu swordsmanship must be aged 16 years or older.

Call or email today for an appointment and come see for yourself — visitors are always welcome!

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