Battojutsu

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Battojutsu (????) is a Japanese term meaning techniques for drawing a sword. It is often used interchangeably with the terms iaijutsu, battodo, or iaido, although each term does have nuances in the Japanese language and different schools of Japanese martial arts may use them to differentiate between techniques (e.g. standing or sitting techniques). The emphasis of training in battojutsu is on cutting with the sword. All terms are somewhat more specific than kenjutsu or kendo which more broadly means simply sword techniques, and is often used to refer to techniques where the sword is already out of the saya.

The emphasis of training in iaido is on quickly and correctly drawing the sword, striking, and returning the sword to its saya (scabbard/sheath). Battojutsu usually incorporate multiple cuts after drawing the sword. Often the focus in any form of iaido is on cutting with the draw (i.e. cutting from the saya, rather than first drawing the sword and then engaging an enemy as a separate action. Also called “Battokiri” translated as “cutting draw”). Consequently, battojutsu students may also practice cutting techniques on real objects (on soaked straw mats), while iaido students rarely do.

Karl Friday in his book, Legacies of the Sword, discusses the historical usage of various terms in Japanese to describe sword arts. Suffice it to say, that while in English many people may dispute the use of -do or -jutsu or else ascribe specific differences to the terms batto or iai, these differences are not nearly as clear in the original language and the words are often used interchangeably. In general however, -do refers to the way of…, usually including mental and spiritual practices, whereas -jutsu refers to the art of…, specifically the actual forms and techniques of the style.

Note That “-do” began to appear mostly after the Meiji Revolution. The Katana being not allowed anymore, Martial Arts had to turn from “art of killing” into “art of training”. Which means “-do” is used for Martial Arts like Judo, Iaido, Kendo, etc… where the purpose is to train body and mind. And “-jutsu” (like Kenjutsu, Jujutsu, etc…) was meant for Martial Arts which purpose is being used on a battlefield.

The origins of drawing the sword from the sheath and cutting on the draw are murky. Although various martial traditions in Japan have legendary founders going back many years, much credit is given to Hayashizaki Jinsuke. He is now enshrined at the Hayashizaki Jinja, a shrine in the Tohoku region of Japan seen by many modern practitioners as the chief shrine for iai. The concept of battojutsu may have existed before this time, but it is unclear who was the first person to actually use the term.

Ryuha, or Japanese martial traditions, which teach battojutsu are relatively uncommon in Japan, and less common in America and other countries. This is in contrast to the relatively high degree of availability of open hand training, such as karate and aikido. Here is a partial list of ryuha which include what could be called battojutsu in the broad sense of drawing and cutting from the saya, although some of them more often use the terms iaido, iaijutsu, or battodo.

Listed in the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten (???????, the Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Traditions) as koryu, or arts developed before the Meiji era.

Listed in the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten as arts developed after the beginning of the Meiji era.