- Kanji: 剣術
- Translation: Sword Art/Technique
Kenjutsu, is the art or techniques of using a sword. In many ryuha that focus on drawing the sword, this is used to describe a method of using the sword after it has been drawn from the sheath.
While it could be said that kenjutsu has been around as long as the sword, by the 10th century we see evidence that there may be identifiable styles, or at least that the style of an individual swordsman might be identified as different from that of another. By the Edo Period, kenjutsu techniques were handed down through schools, or ryuha, which were often regulated by the shogunate and local lords. In addition, during the Edo Period and the periods just prior, techniques began to focus more on unarmored combat.
Difference between kenjutsu and battojutsu
People often distinguish between kenjutsu and battojutsu (or iaijutsu). In some martial tradtitions, the difference between kenjutsu and battojutsu has to do with whether or not the sword is drawn or not. In those cases, kenjutsu techniques deal exclusively with the sword being already drawn from the saya, or scabbard, while battojutsu techniques are concerned with drawing the sword and attacking from the saya. More technically, battojutsu (literally 'sword drawing', 抜刀術) techniques are a subset of kenjutsu (剣術) techniques.
- Friday, Karl (1997), Legacies of the Sword: The Kashima-Shinryu and Samurai Martial Culture, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, HI.
- Friday 1997 p 2--An anecdote from a translation of "How the Former Governor of Mutsu, Tachibana Norimitsu, Cut Down Some Men".