Kyoto Embu Taikai – May 2nd, 2014

Kyoto Embu Taikai – May 2nd, 2014
By Jeff Broderick

The first week of May is “Golden Week” in Japan – a cluster of national holidays when most people take time to go back to their hometowns and visit their relatives and old friends. But for martial artists, it marks one of the biggest events in the annual calendar: The All Japan Embu Taikai, held at the Butokuden Hall near Kyoto’s Heian Shrine. Our staff was on hand to bring you scenes from a long day full of demonstrations.

The first groups to demonstrate are kenjutsu and similar partner practice arts. Here is Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū, the kenjutsu of Miyamoto Musashi.
The first groups to demonstrate are kenjutsu and similar partner practice arts. Here is Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū, the kenjutsu of Miyamoto Musashi.
The kusarigama-jutsu of Isshin-ryū is associated with Shinto Musō-ryū jōjutsu. In practice, a hemp rope and cloth ball are used to entangle the enemy's sword, but the real weapon would feature a metal chain and weight.
The kusarigama-jutsu of Isshin-ryū is associated with Shinto Musō-ryū jōjutsu. In practice, a hemp rope and cloth ball are used to entangle the enemy’s sword, but the real weapon would feature a metal chain and weight.
Another school which encompasses a style of chain-and-sickle is Suio-ryū, with its associated style of Masaki-ryū kusarigama.
Another school which encompasses a style of chain-and-sickle is Suio-ryū, with its associated style of Masaki-ryū kusarigama.
The venerable Ittō-ryū style of kenjutsu has a number of separate "ha" or branches. Ono-ha Ittō-ryū utilizes heavy "oni-gote" which enable full-force strikes to the wrist.
The venerable Ittō-ryū style of kenjutsu has a number of separate “ha” or branches. Ono-ha Ittō-ryū utilizes heavy “oni-gote” which enable full-force strikes to the wrist.
A group demonstrates the dynamic, repeated striking characteristic of Nakanishi-ha Ittō-ryū.
A group demonstrates the dynamic, repeated striking characteristic of Nakanishi-ha Ittō-ryū.
Iaido is usually thought of as a solo art, but it contains many partner kata. Here, the kneeling forms of Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū are demonstrated, part of a set known as "Tsumi Ai no Kurai".
Iaido is usually thought of as a solo art, but it contains many partner kata. Here, the kneeling forms of Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū are demonstrated, part of a set known as “Tsumi Ai no Kurai”.
Before forming their own federation, naginata practitioners had close ties to the Butokuden. The main styles demonstrated at the Kyoto Taikai are Jiki Shinkage-ryū, and Tendo-ryū, seen here.
Before forming their own federation, naginata practitioners had close ties to the Butokuden. The main styles demonstrated at the Kyoto Taikai are Jiki Shinkage-ryū, and Tendo-ryū, seen here.
The next set of demonstrations is the jodo section. Here, the mother and daughter team of Eto Eiko and Eto Tomoko demonstrate Shintō Muso-ryū jōjutsu. By any standard, Eto Eiko is one of the world's most accomplished martial artists, holding the rank of 7-dan or higher in each of judo, kendo, jodo, iaido, aikido, and kyudo.
The next set of demonstrations is the jodo section. Here, the mother and daughter team of Eto Eiko and Eto Tomoko demonstrate Shintō Muso-ryū jōjutsu. By any standard, Eto Eiko is one of the world’s most accomplished martial artists, holding the rank of 7-dan or higher in each of judo, kendo, jodo, iaido, aikido, and kyudo.
According to the oral history of Shintō Musō-ryū jojutsu, the art was developed by Musō Gonnosuke after he lost to Miyamoto Musashi, being unable to defeat Musashi's "cross-block". Gonnosuke retired to ponder how to defeat this technique; the result is shown here.
According to the oral history of Shintō Musō-ryū jojutsu, the art was developed by Musō Gonnosuke after he lost to Miyamoto Musashi, being unable to defeat Musashi’s “cross-block”. Gonnosuke retired to ponder how to defeat this technique; the result is shown here.
The final, and by far the largest, set of demonstrations of the day is the iaido section, which begins with the 6-dan division. In total, almost 400 people performed.
The final, and by far the largest, set of demonstrations of the day is the iaido section, which begins with the 6-dan division. In total, almost 400 people performed.
The two most popular styles of iai are Musō Shinden-ryū, followed by Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū. The styles have many similarities but can easily be differentiated by how the sageo (cord) is tied to the belt; this is Musō Shinden-ryū.
The two most popular styles of iai are Musō Shinden-ryū, followed by Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū. The styles have many similarities but can easily be differentiated by how the sageo (cord) is tied to the belt; this is Musō Shinden-ryū.
Other less populous styles of iaido include Shinkage-ryū, Tamiya-ryū, Mugai-ryū, Hoki-ryū, Tatsumi-ryū, Sekiguchi-ryū, and here, Suio-ryū Iai Kempo.
Other less populous styles of iaido include Shinkage-ryū, Tamiya-ryū, Mugai-ryū, Hoki-ryū, Tatsumi-ryū, Sekiguchi-ryū, and here, Suio-ryū Iai Kempo.
 Perennial All Japan Iaido Tournament top-finisher, Morishima Kazuki, 7-Dan.
Perennial All Japan Iaido Tournament top-finisher, Morishima Kazuki, 7-Dan.
 Iaido 8-dan Hatakenaka Atsumi demonstrates Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū.
Iaido 8-dan Hatakenaka Atsumi demonstrates Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū.
Among the final demonstrators of the day, Yamasaki Masahiro achieved 8-Dan in 1988 and serves on the governing board of the AJKF Iaido Division.
Among the final demonstrators of the day, Yamasaki Masahiro achieved 8-Dan in 1988 and serves on the governing board of the AJKF Iaido Division.