A Guide to Classical Japanese Swordsmanship

The ryu listed below all include some form of kenjutsu in their curriculum. Some are arts centered around the sword; others are focused more on one of the other weapons of the bushi. A warrior's central weapon was always first and foremost the sword, so most ryu extant today (many of which are merely a portion of what were once more comprehensive systems) include kenjutsu. More information, together with photos and links to relevant resources, can be found on the page devoted to each school. Useful general resources are also listed below. Please keep in mind, however, that this list is by no means comprehensive. Many of the extant kenjutsu traditions are not yet listed, so the fact that a school's name does not appear means relatively little. Those that are listed, we can and do "vouch for."

Kenjutsu Resources

General resources

Book  Books about kenjutsu and other related items available at
Book  The Connoisseur's Book of Japanese Swords
by Kokan Nagayama
Book  Heiho Okugisho: The Secret of High Strategy
by Yamamoto Kansuke
Book  Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan
by Karl Friday
Book  Legends of the Samurai
translated by Hiroaki Sato
Book  Sword and Brush
by Dave Lowry
Book  The Sword and the Mind
The Heiho Kadensho translated by Hiroaki Sato
Web Site
The forum for the samurai of the world.
Book  A Way to Victory: The Annotated Book of Five Rings
translation and commentary by Hidy Ochiai
Article  "What is Tankendo?"
by Meik Skoss


founded late Muromachi period (ca. 1573)
Asayama Ichiden-ryu
founded Tensho (1573-1593) or Keicho (1596-1615)
Hokushin Itto-ryu
founded late Edo period (ca. 1830)
Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryu
founded early Edo period (ca. 1640)
Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu
founded late Muromachi period (ca. 1570)
Kashima Shinryu
founded ca. 1450
Kashima Shinto-ryu
founded Muromachi period (ca. 1530)
Kogen Itto-ryu
founded mid-Edo period (1783)
founded Tensho (1573-1593)
Maniwa Nen-ryu
founded 1368
Mizoguchi-ha Itto-ryu
founded early Edo period (ca. 1630)
Ono-ha Itto-ryu Updated
founded early Edo period, ca. 1630
Sekiguchi Shinshin-ryu
founded early Tokugawa period (ca. 1640)
founded 1682
founded early Edo period (ca. 1615)
Takamura-ha Shindo Yoshin-ryu New
founded 1864
founded late Muromachi period (ca. 1550)
Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto-ryu Updated
founded early Muromachi period (ca. 1447)
Yagyu Shingan-ryu
founded early 1600s
Yagyu Shinkage-ryu
founded late Muromachi period, ca. 1568

Legend [back]
Article  Article at
Book  Book review at
Picture  Photograph at
Video  Link to video
Link  Link to other web site

Classical Japanese Martial Arts
Last modified on December 27, 2017
URL: /guide/kenjutsu.html
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Classical Japanese Martial Arts