Japanese Swordsmanship: BattoDo
Batto-Do is the practice of drawing and cutting in a single motion within the arts of Japanese swordsmanship. These methods have been taught and carefully transmitted from one generation to the next ever since Japan's feudal era, when a Samurai's life depended a great deal on his skill with the katana.
Practice in this art begins with a bokuto, a wooden sword with which the student learns the 8 basic postures, 8 directional cuts, and 8 re-sheathings. Kata are taught as a protection against the arbitrary and are a fundamental method for teaching and understanding principles such as posture, footwork, and moving in unison with the sword.
At the intermediate level, the student trains with an iato, which is a real sword that is purposely unsharpened for safety in practice. At this point, the student learns kumitachi, or partner sets, in which principles of timing and distancing are refined as two swordsmen face off in a set of predetermined kata.
At the advanced level, students use a shinken, or sharpened sword, to test their skills in cutting using rolled up tatami (straw mats) as targets. This is called tameshigiri.
Anyone desiring to learn these methods must possess a great deal of patience and focus, as the learning process is long-term and extremely detail oriented. Although progress may seem slow, dedicated training in Batto-Do dramatically sharpens awareness, enhances coordination, and perfects concentration.
Sword training is great for Martial Artists that have had to stop doing the art they love due to injuries from Sport Karate, Kung Fu or Judo & BJJ matches. Many of our teachers in Japan grew up doing Karate or Kendo, but transitioned into Iaido to keep their passion alive while improving their body and mind instead wearing it down with excessive sparring or competition karate.
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