History Of Japanese Sword Martial Arts
From the early samurai warriors to the birth of the katana, the history of Japanese sword martial arts spans several centuries and includes many different fighting styles rolled into one. Its early conception gave birth to a cultured style that has spread across the world and is still practiced and taught today. Those interested in learning the style or simply learning about it should know its history before jumping in.
Origins The first swordsmen were samurai and other warrior-class fighters. They started out learning how to shoot bows and arrows while riding atop a horse, but eventually this form of fighting gave way to Japanese swordsmanship. This marked the beginning of Japanese sword martial arts. As the Japanese sword martial art style spread, others began to copy the fighting moves. Since those who were not warrior-class were banned from owning weapons, the style first incorporated physical moves and only later blended sword fighting into the style.
Sword Type The first swords used in Japanese sword martial arts had straight blades. Eventually the curved blade was developed and become the preferred style. Today the most well-known Japanese sword is the katana, which has a curved blade and is used both in fighting and for ceremonies.
Development Japanese sword martial arts first started simply as a fighting style to defeat one's opponent. When Japan entered a more peaceful era, however, people had time to develop better swords and work on new Japanese sword fighting techniques. This gave way to the martial arts styles we know today, which focus not only on fighting but on personal and spiritual growth as well.
Types The oldest known form of Japanese sword martial arts is known as kenjiutsu and is practiced using wooden katanas. The style evolved over many years and gave way to a well-known form by the name of ninjitsu. This fighting style developed from the teachings of trained assassins who were known for their stealth, swordsmanship, and extensive training in hand-to-hand combat. They were what we today refer to as ninjas. Forms of Japanese sword martial arts focus on different principles taken from various martial arts styles that have developed over time.