“When in a fight to the death, one wants to employ all one's weapons to the utmost. To die with one's sword still sheathed is most regrettable.”
Miyamoto Musashi is arguably Japan’s most famous swordsman, renowned for his two-sword fighting style. He is best known as the author of the Book of Five Rings, a book of fighting strategy, that all serious martial artists should read. Lately, Kim Taylor Sensei, has been running through Niten Ichi Ryu, the sword school of Musashi. If you want a better understanding of the Book of Five Rings, or if you just want an excuse to train with two swords, the next class is Sunday morning at 11am. You can find the link to the Zoom class here: https://seidokai.ca/.
If you need any further reasons to try this class, here are a Top 5 Reasons to train in Niten Ichi Ryu.
If you’ve read The Book of Five Rings, like all serious martial artists should, then here you see the practical direct lessons of Musashi. Time and again, the esoteric interpretations of the book are replaced with direct, simple, practicality, when you understand Musashi’s school.
Distancing. The Niten kata are all 2-person kata. They offer functional practice at the range of the sword. The sword offers a distance of combat just outside of open-hand range. It’s been said that ‘distance and timing dictate the outcome of an engagement’. Niten training improves your mastery of distancing.
Drive forward. In open-hand sparring we will often have a give-and-take with our partner where we take turns working various techniques and strategies. In a real fight, you only want to drive forward. Niten practice personifies this.
All traditional weapons have their own feel. Swinging a bo staff, one moves very differently than when one has tonfa, which is different again from when one has sai. Armed with two swords, one moves very differently than one armed with a single sword. A well-rounded martial artist wants at least a cursory understanding of all traditional weapons. Not to mention, training with two swords is simply fun.
This school offers contrast. It runs counter to the nature martial artists should strive for. As martial artists, we strive for humility. Confidence but humility. Niten kata are not humble. Niten Ichi Ryu is arrogant. It’s message is: if you are in a fight with a sword, walk up and kill your opponent. From Sasen, the first daito (long sword) kata, through Ai sen, the last shoto (short sword) kata, there is an overbearing confidence to the forms that cross the line deep into arrogance.