Japanese Swordsmanship 

Genbukan dojo at Aikido of Westchester
Tuesdays 8-9:30pm & Sundays 8:30-10am


Battodo (抜刀道) is the technique of drawing a sword and cutting. You may already be familiar with the Japanese martial art of iaido (居合道).  Iaido is the art of drawing, cutting and sheathing of the sword into the scabbard. It is performed through the practice of kata or forms aimed at defeating one or more imaginary foes through the application of swordsmanship. The katas are practiced with iaitos which are non-sharpened swords resembling the Japanese katanas.  Although the iaitos have the appearance and weight of a Japanese sword they can be safely used for sword drawing exercises.

Toyama ryu (戸山流) is a Japanese sword form that was developed in 1925 for Japanese military training. Earlier Twentieth century warfare still entailed close quarters combat.  This military iai system was deployed to train Japanese army officers in the use of the katana or Japanese sword in combat.

We practice both the Battodo standard kata forms as well the Toyama ryu kata forms to simulate techniques used in sword confrontations.  

The distinguishing elements of Toyama ryu as an iai art is that it applies practical techniques for sword combat, is practiced entirely in a standing position and it employs tameshigiri or test cutting.

At the Genbukan dojo, tameshigiri is used to test and enhance the practitioner’s ability to cut a target by using a shinken or a live, sharp Japanese sword.  The swordsman’s cuts are evaluated on the precise angles of the cuts, distance between cuts, accuracy and form of the practitioner.  The targets are tatami mat covers which are sheets of woven straw.

Initially you will only need a keiko gi or top and a hakama.  The dojo can provide an iaito (non-sharp sword) for use during class.  For the shinken (sharp sword) used in tameshiri you can borrow a "dojo beater".


A new student will usually spend the first 3 to 6 months working on the basics or kihon.  The practitioner will learn how to properly draw a sword (batto), perform various cutting motions and re-sheath the sword (noto).

In battodo, kata is the exercise of drawing one’s sword against an imagined enemy or enemies in order to counter an attack or strike down an opponent.  By practicing kata the practitioner will learn effective techniques that will combine elements such as movement, cutting,  focus and intent.  The purpose of kata is to instill situational awareness,  enhance timing and relate to the distance of subjects (both moving and stationary).

Tameshigiri is used to test and enhance the practitioner’s ability to cut a target using a shinken or a sharp Japanese sword.  The cuts are evaluated on the precise angles, distance between cuts, accuracy of the placement and form of the practitioner.  The targets are tatami mat covers which are sheets of woven straw.




Firestone sensei executing a kesa giri cut


The Genbukan dojo is a member of the US Federation of Battodo and is a member school of Toyama Ryu Batto Jutsu.

The teaching of the US Federation of Battodo is closely aligned with that of the Zen Nihon Battodo Renmei.


ADULTS  $110


If you wish to receive more information about swordsmanship classes, or to observe a session, please fill out this form below.

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