Martial Arts
Posted By Matthew

The Japanese Sword Game: Can You Name That Art?


Welcome to the Japanese Sword Game! Exciting, right? I was thinking about going into a detailed explanation regarding the differences between various sword arts, but this is the age of web 2.0. We should get a little interaction going here. So, instead, I’m going to describe to you a scenario (pictures will be provided), and you try to figure out which of the multiple choice answers is the correct art (answer key will be provided at the end).

Since I’m your host today, please consider me this guy –

Host of Iron Chef - Takeshi Kaga

(Grand Host of Iron Chef – Takeshi Kaga. He Rules.)

Question 1

The first art presented is considered a sport. In fact, it’s one of the most popular pastimes in Japan with about 7 million participants. The action is fast and furious, and yet very much like a chess match.

Players of this sport don very recognizable helmets and body armor to protect themselves from the bamboo strikes of their opponents. In very spirited matches, the players can be found screaming at each other in an effort to unbalance or disturb.

This sport runs many tournaments and competitions, but still manages to maintain a high level of traditionalism.

Kendo Match

Locked Shinai

Name that art!

A) Kenjutsu
B) Kendo
C) Iaido
D) JoJutsu

Question 2

This next art is not for the feint of heart. Bamboo is rarely found in play here; instead, participants use wooden swords called bokken, or metal swords. Beginners tend to use unsharpened blades called iaito, while experts will use razor sharp blades called shinken.

Cuts, strikes, blocks, and all other manner of technique will be found in use here. There are no designated hit zones and no rules (except to win, of course). Despite its combative nature, this art still makes time for the building of mind and spirit, with the intent of overcoming one’s opponent and one’s own weakness.

Two Swordsman

Name that art!

A) Kenjutsu
B) Kendo
C) Iaido
D) JoJutsu

Question 3

The third art in question is more serene than the first two…at least, on the surface. Often performed from a kneeling position, this is the method of drawing a sword. Few people realize that the act of drawing a japanese katana is an art all by itself.

Unlike other sword practices, this ‘way’ is used for perfection of character moreso than combative effectiveness. That being said, the techniques used are still quite effective, and in some Ryu, maintain a high level of aggressiveness.

Meditative, empowering, and woefully difficult, this art makes you think twice about hurrying (lest you lose a finger).

Risoku Otake - Katori Shinto Ryu

Name that art!

A) Kenjutsu
B) Kendo
C) Iaido
D) JoJutsu

Question 4

What would this be –

Two Sword Combatants

A) Kenjutsu
B) Kendo
C) Iaido
D) JoJutsu

***ANSWER KEY***ANSWER KEY***ANSWER KEY***

Sorry I didn’t have any cool javascript for the answers – I’m not quite at that point yet. But here we go, your answers:

Question 1 – b.) KENDO. That’s right, this is the sport of kendo. Popular, aggressive, and exasperating.

Question 2 – a.) KENJUTSU. Kenjutsu makes up a bulk of what we see in swordplay, but is hardly the only art involved.

Question 3 – c.) IAIDO. It seems so easy…until you try to kneel with grace and poise in a hakama for the first time. Then there’s the sword to deal with…

Question 4 – NONE. Actually, that’s not true. It’s sort of a trick question – one practitioner is doing kenjutsu (the drawn sword) while the other does iaido (the sheathed sword). Did I trick you? Probably not, but maybe I kept you on your toes.

How did you do? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for playing!