Reflections of The Spring 2010 Atlanta
Kukishinden Ryu Sword Workshop
The KukishinDen Ryu Biken no Ho workshop put on by
Sensei Sukh was a great learning experience. So, I decided I
should share my thoughts with everyone so they may also learn form some
of my ideas. There were some really interesting things I garnered
from Sensei’s Sukh’s expert skill, experience and thoughts
about the lineage and the kata.
First, I learned the differences between the sizes of the KukishinDen
Ryu sword and “traditional” kenjutsu schools/swords we
normally see today. Everything from the length of the sword to
the thickness, the way you cut with it, and the way you draw it.
The KukishinDen Ryu utilized a longer sword (almost 47 inches from
handle to blade tip) and a thicker/ heavy blade. For example, in
comparison to the 43 inch sword f the Jinen Ryu Bikenjutsu
school. Due to the weight and length, the way you cut is slightly
different. The KukishinDen Ryu style seems to bludgeon and then
cut the opponent, where as the kenjutsu styles I have studied thus far
are more of a hard hit and scissor motion with your hands to slice
through the target. This KukishinDen style was most likely because
techniques where developed when the fighters wore armor and needed to
blast through the metal and lacquer to create a bludgeoning effect then
to cut through afterwards. Very interesting thoughts when you
think of timing, power and distancing of what we do in studying the
many areas of Kobudo.
Another new thing I learned from Sensei Sukh was that after you cut,
you leave the sword between you and the uke while you go into the next
posture. This keeps pressure on your opponent and helps you to
maintain your proper distance. He said many people who train in
kenjutsu, do not look at that practice as life or
death…therefore they do not really showcase
“zanshin” or total awareness. Even though we are
training with our friends and going through pre-set movements, you
should always think about guarding yourself form the opponent.
Sensei also mentioned that is not only for kenjutsu, that idea should
be in everything we do.
We also reviewed the idea of how swords were drawn for the saya (or
scabbard). In The Jinen Ryu for example, the sword is drawn (and
worn) sharp edge up. The KukishinDen sword is longer, so it could
be drawn with the blade down or up. Much like a tachi style or
odachi sword. This sword most likely would be drawn in advance of
an opponent’s attack. This was not a quick draw
weapon. The style of carrying the Japanese sword edge up was a
much more recent style than some of the “older” lineages as
I understand the history of the Japanese sword.
I also noticed that the kamae (on guard postures) looked similar to
some of the other sword styles I have studied (like Jinen Ryu).
The kamae in Seigan, Gedan, and Daijodan looked familiar while some of
the other kamae like Ichi, Kasumi, Tenchijin and Chudan were foreign to
me. Ichi no Kamae has the sword horizontally in front of you
while Chudan no Kamae has the sword pointing at the opponent’s
heart and Kasumi no Kamae holds the sword parallel to the floor over
your head, and Tenchijin no Kamae is showing your shoulder / back as a
weakness to bait your enemy.
The kata showed how even though you are wearing all this heavy armor
you can still be nimble and light on your feet. Kata such as
ShiHo Giri is a great example of this. In this kata as you are
stalking the opponent when you have your distance you leap in to one
side you cut the opponent and then leap to the opposite side to do
another cut. This leaves the opponent feeling confused and
This workshop and time spent training on this sword school gave me a
great deal appreciation for what we study and an even bigger challenge
to push myself to understand the movement and ideas of the KukishinDen
Ryu. I am ever greatful for the leadership from the Dayton Gi Yu
Dojo and from my teacher Dojo-cho WS Bumgarner. I am looking
forward to the next time I get to train and learn about the kenjutsu
schools we study!