Photo Essay: 2015 Kyoto Taikai Kobudo / Jodo / Iaido‏

Photo Essay: 2015 Kyoto Taikai Kobudo / Jodo / Iaido
By Jeff Broderick

‏ “Golden Week” in early May of each year sees one of the main events of the sword arts calendar: the Kyoto Taikai.  The setting for this venerable event is the august Butokuden hall – a venue that is steeped in tradition and rich in atmosphere, but one which can be a photographer’s worst nightmare.  The hall itself is rather dark, with intense backlight streaming in from outside, and because the event is so crowded, it often plays out like something of a three-ring circus.  On top of that, a handful of professional photographers vie for a small number of prime shooting positions with a veritable army of budo enthusiasts, as well as the family and friends of demonstrators, everyone fighting to get that perfect shot.  Meanwhile, the organizers do their best to keep the event running smoothly while trying to keep sight lines clear for all the spectators – often an impossible task!

Despite all these challenges, I felt lucky to have gotten a few nice shots this year. They say a picture is a worth a thousand words, so with that in mind, I shall keep my comments to a minimum and hope you enjoy a Kendo World Photo Essay: Kyoto Taikai 2015.

The event begins with kobujutsu from various traditions across Japan.  Here, from Nara, is the spearmanship of Hoizoin-ryu sojutsu.
Two swords are better than one: The famous cross-block from Miyamoto Musashi’s Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryu kenjutsu.
The large oni-gote of Ono-ha Itto-ryu kenjutsu allow strikes with force using solid bokuto.
Suio-ryu from Shizuoka is a school which incorporates a variety of weapons. Here, the speed and utility of a wakizashi are exploited to defeat an opponent armed with a katana.
Shindo Muso-ryu jojutsu has a number of affiliated arts which teach the use of other small weapons.  One such art is Ikkaku-ryu jutte-jutsu which teaches techniques with the jutte (an iron truncheon) and tessen (a club-like iron fan).
Chuwa-ryu tanken-jutsu is also affiliated with Shindo Muso-ryu; here, the need to come inside the swordsman’s ma-ai (effective range) is on full display.
Muso Gonnosuke, the founder of Shindo Muso-ryu, was said to have been a menkyo holder in Katori Shinto-ryu kenjutsu. His sword teachings survive as Shinto-ryu kenjutsu.
Kimura Sensei, the soke [head of the tradition] of Tendo-ryu naginata demonstrates the school’s eminently effective techniques against a sword.
To open the Jodo section of the demonstrations, Yasumaru Sensei and Shioda Sensei from Hokkaido showed the 12 techniques of Seitei Jodo.
Demonstrators also showed a number of koryu jodo techniques from Shindo Muso-ryu.
Mitani Sensei had the honour of performing this year’s demonstration of all 12 Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (Seitei) Iai forms.
Kyo2015-Mitani Kyo2015-Mitani2
Among the hundreds of iai demonstrators were representatives of a diverse range of classical styles, among them Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu (Shizuoka-ken) …
… Shinkage-ryu (Aichi-ken) …
… Sekiguchi-ryu (Oita-ken) …
… and Hoki-ryu (Kumamoto-ken).
Of course, the majority of participants came from one of two larger schools, Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu:
And Muso Shinden-ryu.