Toyama Ryu

 
Toyama Ryu was established in 1925 at the Toyama military school in Tokyo. It was formed by a committee of swordsmen, the senior of whom was Nakayama Hakudo.
 
The Fujiyama School teaches Toyama Ryu as taught by Nakamura Sensei, one of the original instructors at the Toyama Academy. The style is a Batto-do, it starts from a standing position which is particularly useful to students who are unable to kneel.
 
There are 8 kata which teach the student to cut in different directions and use both single- and double-handed cuts. Tameshigiri is also an important part of the Toyama Ryu style and the Fujiyama School practises this on a regular basis.
 
This is a link to a very informative article on an interview with Nakamura Sensei:
 
 
Have a look around the site whilst you are there too for more interesting articles on the martial arts

tameshigiri

In the Toyama Ryu style, Tameshigiri (test cutting) is a very important part of the syllabus. We at the Fujiyama School practise regularly with the senior students. It is very important for the students to realise how it feels to cut a target, and is important for their developement to see the hasuji (angle of cut).

We use targets, soaked for three days and then allowed todry for one day, these are then mounted on a stand which the students then cut. Each target is checked for angle and cleanliness of cut. This is the best way to check that a student is cutting correctly.

There are a number of cuts to be practised and these are part of the syllabus, the first are kesa giri left and right, these are learned in the first 2 Toyama Ryu kata. Then reverse kesa is practised, again both left and right, then students go on to suihei, straight across, left to right and right to left. This is probably the harder cut to master as it is very easy to knock the stand over and the correct angle of cut is very hard to achieve. Once these basic cuts have been mastered there are combinations that test the student even further, ranging from multiple cuts on one target and  cutting through several targets at once.

Remember, Iai Batto-do without Tameshigiri is like a Ferrari without wheels. You can sit in it and play, but you'll never know how it performs, and Tameshigiri without Iai Batto-do is pointless.

Please do not think that as soon as you join the club you'll be cutting the same week, Tameshigiri is potentially a very very dangerous art, and all of the senior students are well trained in both safety and technique. You will need specialised training to perform an accurate cut on a mat, and at the Fujiyama School we are proud that we have instructors trained in Tournament Tameshigiri and access to some of Japan's best Tameshigiri exponents.

The Fujiyama School arranges Tameshigiri Seminars on a regular basis and students are invited from other schools, however as places are restricted (for safety reasons) priority will be given to members of the Fujiyama School, please contact us for details.

In the Toyama Ryu style, Tameshigiri (test cutting) is a very important part of the syllabus. We at the Fujiyama School practise regularly with the senior students. It is very important for the students to realise how it feels to cut a target, and is important for their developement to see the hasuji (angle of cut).

 

 

Cutting individual targets

 

We use targets, soaked for three days and then allowed to dry for one day, these are then mounted on a stand which the students then cut. Each target is checked for angle and cleanliness of cut. This is the best way to check that a student is cutting correctly.

There are a number of cuts to be practised and these are part of the syllabus, the first are kesa giri left and right, these are learned in the first 2 Toyama Ryu kata. Then reverse kesa is practised, again both left and right, then students go on to suihei, straight across, left to right and right to left. This is probably the harder cut to master as it is very easy to knock the stand over and the correct angle of cut is very hard to achieve.

Once these basic cuts have been mastered there are combinations that test the student even further, ranging from multiple cuts on one target and  cutting through several targets at once.

 

 

A good cut, showing a 45 degree hasuji

                              

Remember, Iai Batto-do without Tameshigiri is like a Ferrari without wheels. You can sit in it and play, but you'll never know how it performs, and Tameshigiri without Iai Batto-do is pointless.

Please do not think that as soon as you join the club you'll be cutting the same week, Tameshigiri is potentially a very very dangerous art, and all of the senior students are well trained in both safety and technique. You will need specialised training to perform an accurate cut on a mat, and at the Fujiyama School we are proud that we have instructors trained in Tournament Tameshigiri,and access to some of Japans best Tameshigiri exponents.

 

The Fujiyama School arranges Tameshigiri Seminars on a regular basis and students are invited from other schools, however as places are restricted (for safety reasons) priority will be given to members of the Fujiyama School, please contact us for details.

In the Toyama Ryu style, Tameshigiri (test cutting) is a very important part of the syllabus. We at the Fujiyama School practise regularly with the senior students. It is very important for the students to realise how it feels to cut a target, and is important for their developement to see the hasuji (angle of cut).

 

 

Cutting individual targets

 

We use targets, soaked for three days and then allowed to dry for one day, these are then mounted on a stand which the students then cut. Each target is checked for angle and cleanliness of cut. This is the best way to check that a student is cutting correctly.

There are a number of cuts to be practised and these are part of the syllabus, the first are kesa giri left and right, these are learned in the first 2 Toyama Ryu kata. Then reverse kesa is practised, again both left and right, then students go on to suihei, straight across, left to right and right to left. This is probably the harder cut to master as it is very easy to knock the stand over and the correct angle of cut is very hard to achieve.

Once these basic cuts have been mastered there are combinations that test the student even further, ranging from multiple cuts on one target and  cutting through several targets at once.

 

 

A good cut, showing a 45 degree hasuji

                              

Remember, Iai Batto-do without Tameshigiri is like a Ferrari without wheels. You can sit in it and play, but you'll never know how it performs, and Tameshigiri without Iai Batto-do is pointless.

Please do not think that as soon as you join the club you'll be cutting the same week, Tameshigiri is potentially a very very dangerous art, and all of the senior students are well trained in both safety and technique. You will need specialised training to perform an accurate cut on a mat, and at the Fujiyama School we are proud that we have instructors trained in Tournament Tameshigiri,and access to some of Japans best Tameshigiri exponents.

 

The Fujiyama School arranges Tameshigiri Seminars on a regular basis and students are invited from other schools, however as places are restricted (for safety reasons) priority will be given to members of the Fujiyama School, please contact us for details.

In the Toyama Ryu style, Tameshigiri (test cutting) is a very important part of the syllabus. We at the Fujiyama School practise regularly with the senior students. It is very important for the students to realise how it feels to cut a target, and is important for their developement to see the hasuji (angle of cut).

 

 

Cutting individual targets

 

We use targets, soaked for three days and then allowed to dry for one day, these are then mounted on a stand which the students then cut. Each target is checked for angle and cleanliness of cut. This is the best way to check that a student is cutting correctly.

There are a number of cuts to be practised and these are part of the syllabus, the first are kesa giri left and right, these are learned in the first 2 Toyama Ryu kata. Then reverse kesa is practised, again both left and right, then students go on to suihei, straight across, left to right and right to left. This is probably the harder cut to master as it is very easy to knock the stand over and the correct angle of cut is very hard to achieve.

Once these basic cuts have been mastered there are combinations that test the student even further, ranging from multiple cuts on one target and  cutting through several targets at once.

 

 

A good cut, showing a 45 degree hasuji

                              

Remember, Iai Batto-do without Tameshigiri is like a Ferrari without wheels. You can sit in it and play, but you'll never know how it performs, and Tameshigiri without Iai Batto-do is pointless.

Please do not think that as soon as you join the club you'll be cutting the same week, Tameshigiri is potentially a very very dangerous art, and all of the senior students are well trained in both safety and technique. You will need specialised training to perform an accurate cut on a mat, and at the Fujiyama School we are proud that we have instructors trained in Tournament Tameshigiri,and access to some of Japans best Tameshigiri exponents.

 

The Fujiyama School arranges Tameshigiri Seminars on a regular basis and students are invited from other schools, however as places are restricted (for safety reasons) priority will be given to members of the Fujiyama School, please contact us for details.

BASICS

We would like to thank Paul Southren of the Sword Buyers Guide for letting us use parts of this article. Please check out Sword Buyers Guide.com ( see links page) for more great information on Japanese Swords

"Japanese sword training is something of a lifelong journey. Even the masters consider themselves to be humble students, constantly striving for perfection and always feeling that they can execute a cut cleaner, faster and with more precision...

As such, even the basics are subject to continual refinement, and it is most definitely a journey best started with proper instruction under the watchful eye of a qualified teacher.

Yet for those who are curious as to what to expect in a JSA (Japanese Sword Art) dojo, or others with a purely academic interest, this article is at the very least, a tentative introduction to the mindsets and training methodologies of the arts as a whole...

 

RITUALISM AND DOJO ETTIQUETE

One thing you will notice about traditional Japanese swordsmanship is the emphasis on ritual and Etiquette.

Partially this is done for safety reasons (after all, its stands to reason that a dojo full of sword wielding students can be a dangerous place to be!) and partially it is done to cultivate the right spirit of respect and reverence for the art and the sword itself.

While each school and each style does it a little differently, almost all start out with the class lined up (with the most senior students at the front, to the most junior at the back) facing the Sensei. Before the class begins in earnest, they transfer the sword from the left hand to the right (symbolizing their intention in the dojo is one of peace and learning, as they cannot attack while holding the sword in the right hand) before bowing and attaching the sword to their belt. In a similar way, once a Japanese sword training session is completed (with most modern dojos running from around 1 to 2 hours per class) the ritual is more or less reversed

Each school will have many additional rules that apply before, during and after training. While these rituals may chafe to the Western student at first, everything – no matter how obscure it may seem is done for a reason in the Japanese sword arts.

Some of these rules are designed to show that your intent in the training hall is to learn and to avoid behaviour which is threatening or dangerous. Others are aimed at cultivating the correct mindset to build a solid foundation of humility and openness (once you think ‘I’m so good at this!’ you’ve instantly stopped learning and are in fact doing yourself a disservice).

To discard any elements is to miss out on cultivating the martial spirit of swordsmanship that is central to attaining true mastery.

 

BASIC TECHNIQUES

What follows are some of the basic cuts that form the building blocks of Japanese sword training.

Again, each style is different. Some start with the sword further back than others, some finish with it closer to the ground. None are wrong – just different approaches to achieving the same result...

In traditional Japanese sword training, these techniques are often practiced many thousands of times before any degree of proficiency is obtained, which is why it is important to get proper instruction as practicing them solo without a sensei to instruct you can ingrain some seriously bad habits that will take years to untrain.

However, with that in mind, from an academic point of view, here are three of ‘generic’ cutting techniques.  

 

Basic Downward Swing or Kirioroshi 

 

 

Downward diagonal Cut or Kesa-giri 

 

Side to side cut or Suihei 

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

The core of Japanese sword training is undoubtedly the ritualistic patterns known as Kata (forms). These vary from school to school, but all the major categories of Japanese sword training arts – Iaido, Kenjutsu and Kendo have them to some degree or another.

Contained within these seemingly archaic movements are many lethal techniques that, ideally at least, are based on tried and tested combat techniques. (It has been argued that some schools are more ‘pure’ than others, with some supposedly being diluted during Japans long period of domestic peace – though the frequency of duels between Samurai would suggest that truly ineffectual arts would not have been passed down through the generations, natural attrition would take care of that!).

Most sword schools start the beginning student off with very simple Kata.

In the case of iaido – the first few kata are often no more than drawing the sword, delivering a single strike – and then re-sheathing it. While on the one hand, these sword training methods were designed to be practical, training the swordsman by building the fluid and economical movements deep into muscle memory with continual repetition – they also served a greater purpose – to develop Mushin – or single minded, unwavering focus so that the warriors mind would be clear, even in the face of death...

The beauty of Kata like these is that this is one form of Japanese sword training you can practice by yourself, anywhere and anytime. But that said, it is extremely important at all times when performing a single person Kata to strongly visualize your opponent and where they are in relation to your techniques, otherwise your Kata will take on the characteristics (and spirit) of a mere dance...

While there is some crossover between the Iaido and Kenjutsu schools, it is reasonable to say that Iaido has an emphasis on solo kata while Kenjutsu has a stronger emphasis on partnered exercises.

Again, learning the Kata is really something that should be left to the dojo, however there are some high quality instructional DVDs and Books on the market that while they cannot surpass the kind of Japanese sword training available in the dojo – are a valid alternative for those who are casually interested, or where geography makes practical instruction an impossibility. 

It should come as no big surprise that free sparring with live blades is not a part of Japanese sword training, though at the highest levels, Masters perform partnered exercises with razor sharp Shinken.

In Kenjutsu, once the basic Kata have been ‘mastered’ to a high level, high level students may begin introducing additional techniques into their partnered Japanese sword training Kata which can become so fluid it is, for all intents and purposes, free sparring.

And within some schools – free sparring is developed with heavily padded bokken known as fukuro shinai. However, the style of Japanese sword training that truly specializes in free sparring is Kendo.

While beginning Kendo students focus a lot of their energies on developing basic techniques, footwork, and partnered Kata with the Shinai (bamboo sword) – the aim of their training is to develop the skills required for free sparring and serious competition

On the downside, Kendo is much more of a sport than a martial art per se, and the wrist flicking strikes employed can create bad habits for Japanese sword training with a shinken (live blade) or iaito – though one the other side, it does indeed cultivate a strong warrior spirit and is most certainly a test of skill (for more information on Kendo, visit The British Kendo website."

 

We at the Fujiyama School try to develop a student's understanding of the Japanese sword whilst teaching a style that is relatively easy to learn but takes years of training to fully comprehend. With a syllabus of Japanese sword training methods more akin to those practiced by the Samurai, it emphasises:

  • Suburi (cutting exercises)
  • Battoho (drawing techniques)
  • Kata (Forms)
  • Tachiuchi (Sparring)
  • And Tameshigiri (test cutting)