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What is Battojutsu?

This video, titled "Kazaana/Battojutsu version," was uploaded by "Takayuki Kanayama."

If you're a fan of manga or anime, you've probably seen or heard of battojutsu, a martial art using a Japanese sword.
Yes, battojutsu is the sword art used by Kenshin Himura (Battousai the Manslayer), the main character in the popular anime/manga, "Rurouni Kenshin."
If you want to know more about battojutsu, this is a video you don’t want to miss!

Battojutsu, as the name implies (抜刀術: 抜/ba - Draw, 刀/tou - Sword, 術/jutsu - Technique), is the art of cutting down an opponent with a single blow by drawing a sword from its scabbard when attacked by an enemy.
It's a one-hit kill sword technique, but in the unlikely event that you're attacked again, you can make sure that you kill your would-be-assailant by dodging his sword and hitting him with a second strike.
You can see the two opposing swordsmen dueling at 0:40, 1:01, 1:52 and 2:12 in the video, and see just how effective battojutsu is.

The History of Battojutsu

Image of a Japanese sword・Battojutsu
Photo:Japanese sword・Battojutsu

Battojutsu has a long history and is said to have been systematized approximately 400 years ago during the Muromachi (1336-1573 AD) and Edo (1603-1868 AD) periods.
It's a traditional Japanese martial art and was considered to be an essential sword technique for samurai.
There are a number of schools, the most famous of which are Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu and Tatsumi-ryu.
At the end of the Muromachi Period, the Hayashizaki style emerged, including schools such as Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, which was derived from the school established by Hayashizaki Shigenobu (Jinsuke), who specialized in battojutsu.
Even today, there are dojos all over Japan where you can learn battojutsu, so if you're interested, consider trying it out!
The equipment needed for practicing battojutsu is a dojo uniform, a practice sword, and a kaku obi.

The Differences Between Battojutsu and Iaijutsu

Image of a Japanese sword・Battojutsu
Photo:A Japanese sword・Battojutsu

One of the most famous martial arts that uses Japanese swords is iaijutsu.
In fact, iaijutsu is also a form of battojutsu.
In the Edo Period, drawing a sword from a seated position was called iai, and drawing a sword from a standing position was called tachiai.

Battojutsu is also known as iai (居合), iaijutsu (居合術), nukiai (抜合), iai (居相), saya no uchi (鞘の内), bakken (抜剣), etc. depending on the region or school.
It is said that kendo developed from tachiai as a practice martial art, without the use of serious weapons and with protective gear.

Battojutsu techniques include koiguchi wo kiru, putting one's hand on the hilt of the sword, drawing the sword, brandishing the sword, downwards slashes, zanshin, chiburi (flicking blood off one's sword), and returning the sword to its scabbard.

Koikuchi wo kiri (鯉口を切る) is a technique before drawing the sword, in which you push the katana out of its saya (scabbard) by its tsuba.
This action can be seen at the start of sword fighting scenes in historical dramas.
In iaijutsu, this technique indicates that you are in a "fighting stance."

Summary of Battojutsu, a Sword Fighting Technique of Japan's Samurai

Image of a Japanese sword・Battojutsu
Photo:A Japanese sword・Battojutsu

In Japanese martial arts, techniques that do not use weapons are called taijutsu (体術), while those that use bladed weapons, such as katana and naginata, are called kenjutsu (剣術).

Battojutsu is a type of kenjutsu that does not use as much power as taijutsu, but it is said to be one of the most advanced forms of kenjutsu because it requires intense concentration.
Matches are decided in the instant the sword is drawn, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats!

Written By
Last Updated : May. 28, 2023
児玉 勇(Yu Kodama)
A writer who loves Japan and yakitori

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You'll Be Amazed at How Fast This Swordsman Draws His Katana! You'll Have Been Cut Down Before You Even See His Hands Move! Check out the Overwhelming Speed of Battojutsu in This Video!
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