Shinkendo Japanese Swordsmanship
Shinkendo, Japanese Swordsmanship, is a martial arts style based on the Samurai Traditions including strategy, proper Bushido etiquette, and philosophy.
The focus of a Japanese feudal warrior's martial education was swordsmanship. Shinkendo, which was founded and developed by Toshishiro Obata Soke, combines its founder's own technical and structural innovations with several traditions of Japanese swordsmanship that have evolved over time. Shinkendo is a historically accurate and comprehensive style of Japanese swordsmanship. It is based on the traditions of the Samurai. These traditions are strategy, proper Bushido etiquette, and philosophy.
Bushido refers to the moral code principals that developed among the samurai class of Japan. Bushido has one unchanging ideal: the martial spirit, which includes athletic and military skills as well as fearless facing of the enemy.
Shinkendo revolves around the structure of Gorin Goho Gogyo. Gorin Goho Gogyo are five equally balanced interacting rings that symbolize the five major methods of technical study. These include Suburi (sword swinging drills), Tanrengata (Solo forms), Battoho (combative drawing and cutting methods), Tachiuchi (sparring), and Tameshigiri/Shizan (cutting straw and bamboo targets).
Students of Shinkendo train with a Bokuto, which is a wooden sword. They advance to training with an Iaito or Mugito, a non-sharpened sword. Finally they use a Shinken, or a "live blade." At more advanced levels, the student may test his skill by test cutting practice on tatami omoto makiwara, which are rolled up tatami mats which were previously soaked in water. Eventually the student test cuts using Nihondake or Mosodake, Japanese or Chinese bamboo. Test cutting alone is not the ultimate goal. A full and complete integration of sword and practice and its concepts should be achieved before students touch a real sword.
Techniques take time to develop and mature, and one of the main qualities for which students strive is their spirit of Jinsei Shinkendo (Life is Shinkendo). They attempt to apply the values and teachings found in Shinkendo training to other areas of their lives. They are also instructed to use life-experiences to better understand Shinkendo. According to Toshishiro Obata Soke, swordsmanship is an art form, and should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.
The dan/kyu system is not used in Shinkendo. Ranks are based upon an older system that was used during the Samurai era. Practitioners are divided into three groups: Seito, Deshi and Kyakubun. No honorary ranks are awarded.
Shinkendo requires rigorous physical training, depth of coordination, and intense focus. The most important aspect of Shinkendo is the emphasis on spiritual forging, which inspires Bushi Damashi (the Samurai/warrior spirit.) This is a quality as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago. Shinkendo brings the student a strong body and mind as well as a calm, clear, and focused spirit.
According to Toshishiro Obata Soke: "Shinkendo has a number of meanings depending on the calligraphy, or kanji used to depict the various characters. Shinken is what a real Japanese sword is called; however, shin can also mean true or serious, as in your pursuit of life and training (therefore, the word "Shinkendo" can also be interpreted as "the way of living your life seriously and fully".); shin can mean mind and spirit, as the art affords you a way to forge both; shin also means god, in that we should respect our world and nature, and espouse world peace. Shinkendo does not have to stop at the dojo's doors, but can be thought of as a path to follow, and a strategy of mind to apply in your life and its day to day activities. That is how this art came about. I created the International Shinkendo Federation to promote those ideals, because the truth begets the truth."
Shinkendo's headquarters, or Honbu, are located in Los Angeles, California.