Useful Link: WA School of Japanese Swordmanship

japaneseInstructor Doug Spear is a 3rd degree black belt in Kenjutsu and 3rd degree black belt in Setei Iaido, training under Sensei Peter James from the WA School of Japanese Swordmanship, and Sensei Ramon Lawrence from the West Australian Kendo Remnei. ** Short weapons seminars available **

Kenjutsu (‘The Art of the Sword’)

Kenjutsu is usually recognised as combative. It always begins with the sword already drawn with an aggressive intent. The first recorded historical systematic teachings of the Japanese long sword began around 800 AD. Since that time, over 1200 different ryu (schools) have been documented.

Many exponsents of Kenjutsu begain to question if a higher understanding could be achieved through practice and study with the sword. These kenshi (swordsmen) developed the art of the sword (kenjutsu) into a way of the sword (kendo). To signify their advances, they coined the name kendo. This divisive move began around the middle of the 14th century.

Kenjutsu is considered classical bujutsu (art of the war of martial art), having been well formulated prior to the Meiji reformation (the classical / modern dividing line). Classical Kenjutsu ryu (schools) tend to be quite secretive of their techniques, being very closed to outsiders. Classical kenjutsu ryu are the closest to classical warrior training in the modern world. Examples are Yagyo Shinkage Ryu, and Tenshin Shoden Shinto Ryu.

Kenjutsu wear is traditional, consisting usually of hakama (split skirt trousers), keikogi (a heavy weight jacket worn tucked in) and obi (belt). As a rule, there are no belt colours in kenjutsu, but only titles: Deshi (students), Renshi (instructor), Kyoshi (teacher) and Hanshi (master).

Kata (prearranged forms or exercises) are the usual way of learning the intricate motions required. Initially one practices solo, but later pairs or mutliple kenshi kata are performed. The standard practice tool is either a bokken (simulated wooden sword) or an actual live blade. Actual cutting and thrusting of the blade against water soaked rolled mats and bamboo poles, called tameshigiri, give the more advanced exponent practice in actual impact of the live blade against a target.


Iaido is considered by many to be the epitome of modern Budo. Scarce in its movement, simple in its elegance, Iaido is marked by one essential set of profound relations – one breath, one cut, and one victory.

Armed against only him / herself, the Iaido practitioner has come to embody the Japanese aesthetic of minimalism. Because each movement is marked by the spiritual depth and harbouring of self-cultivation.


The sai is currently a popular tournament and training weapon, but that was not always the case. This weapon, as we know it, was developed in China as a defence against long weapons, bladed and non-bladed, such as the bo (staff), the seiryuto (blue/green dragon sword) and later in Japan and Okinawa, against the katana and bisento. In its simplest form, the sai or truncheon is a metal rod with two upward-curved guards at the handle. Used in pairs, or threes, the sai was the preferred weapon of the early Okinawan police and palace guards.