Kenjutsu (swordfighting) along with Iaijutsu,
comprise the basic principles of swordsmanship. Kenjutsu is the
offensive, aggressive art of the sword, whereas Iaijutsu is more
defensive in nature. Kenjutsu is the forerunner of Kendo; it was
outlawed in 1876, when wearing swords was banned. Schools of Kenjutsu
flourished from the ninth century on. Ten centuries later, hundreds
of Kenjutsu schools were still in operation. Masters and students
continually attempted to improve their techniques, adapting the
methods of other schools if they proved effective. As might be
expected, numerous personal battles were fought among students
and teachers of different schools, to prove whose method was superior.
Of all the sword arts, Kenjutsu is the one that most closely resembles
European fencing, emphasizing as it does cuts, thrusts and parries.
There are also clear target areas. To wound an opponent in a non-target
area was considered unworthy. Over time, Kenjutsu developed into
the art of Kendo.
Today, only a few schools remain of the original
hundreds. Some of the more important schools include Emmei-ryu,
Gan-ryu, Hasegawa, Hokushin Itto-ryu, Itto-ryu, Jigen-ryu, Jikishen
Kage-ryu, Kage-ryu, Kanemake-ryu, Katori-ryu, Kumi-tachi, Muji
Shinden, Muto-ryu, Nakanishi-ha?itto-ryu, Nikaido-ryu, Okuyama-ryu,
Shingen-ryu, Taisharyu, Tomita-ryu, Yagyu-ryu and Yoshin-ryu. See
Kendo. See Bugei. (From The Martial Arts Encyclopedia by Jennifer