where can I learn how to use a Katana?

by Steve H.

So I have been searching where I can learn how to use a sword properly and I can't find any dojos that teach proper sword technique. Any Ideas?

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by: Paul

We cover some of the basics in our article on Japanese Sword Training Here but aside from instructional books and DVDs on amazon and the like (and there are some good ones out there) there are basically three types of school you can look for in your local area.

Kendo is a sport derived from Japanese sword fighting and while the techniques have been adapted heavily, it is still a valuable martial art in its own right for anyone interested in swordsmanship as it teaches focus, speed and sparring.

Kenjutsu is basically the predecessor to Kendo and is purely martial in its applications, not a sport. However, many clubs that claim to teach it are often a bit questionable.

For sword training traditions that stretch back in an unbroken line to the feudal era, you need to look at something like Iaido or Battojutsu. These arts focus on kata, that is to say forms practiced either alone or with a partner using a non-sharpened training sword. Most of the emphasis is on correct form, rapidly drawing the sword, following up, and sheathing it - all while maintaining Zanshin (focus/awareness of ones surroundings).

Now I don't know too many schools in Illinois - but there are a couple that look promising.

The first is Japanese Culture Center who teach an art with a linage dating back to 1675 and the head teacher, Ken Pitchford.

The other is the Chicago Kendo Dojo which is a traditional dojo established in the early 60s.

No doubt there are many others, some good, some not so good and some downright bad.. Best way to find them is to do some google searches on Kendo, Iaido and Battojutsu plus the name of the general area where you live and see what comes up.

Often it is necessary to travel a fair distance to receive good instruction, but it is the price that sometimes needs to be paid.

Best of luck in your search! If anyone else has any other recommendations, feel free to share.

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