Traditional Japanese Swordsmanship
Shinkendo is comprised of five distinct elements, referred to as the Gorin Goho Gogyo. These elements are:
– Isolating and practicing the basics of ken sabaki (sword movement), tai sabaki (body movement), ashi sabaki (foot movement), and toho jussinho (the basic ten sword methods).
– Solo forms simultaneously utilizing multiple aspects of suburi with complimentary movements.
– Like tanrengata with an emphasis on powerful and efficient cuts from the draw. Drawing and sheathing is practiced in all directions.
– Paired sparring forms that develop the practitioner’s coordination and ability to harmonize with an opponent. Specifically the practitioner develops awase (timing), maai (distance to target), hohaba (balance), rhythm, and kiai.
– Test cutting with a live blade (a shinken). Typical target materials include tatami omote and bamboo (either Nihondake or Mosodake – Japanese or Chinese Bamboo). Tameshigiri offers practical insight into principles such as hasuji (edge angles), tachisuji (sword swing-angles), and tenouchi (grip).
(Paraphrased from Obata, 1999)
These five elements form a comprehensive curriculum that, when practiced with sincerity and commitment, interweave to form a style of swordsmanship that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Shinkendo students begin training with a wooden sword called a bokuto, and as their skill level and control of the blade progress they will advance to training with an iaito (or mogito, an unsharpened blade). Given sufficient time and ability, students eventually learn to use a shinken (live blade).
Gorin Goho Gogyo
Obata, T., 1999, Shinkendo: Japanese Swordsmanship, International Shinkendo Federation, p. 29.
Scott, N., 1998, Written transmission.