Tessenjutsu: Japanese Iron War Fan Training


One of the historical training tools that we explore in our movement is the use of the tessen- the Japanese war fan.

Historically, the samurai were *allowed* to carry selected items at different times depending on the relationship and the situation of the time, as swords were not always permitted.

Dress and styles at the time allowed a fan to be carried, which at times was enhanced with metal ribs, or metal decorations to allow it to be used as a small club or truncheon. Over time, the art of the tessen- iron fan evolved and this historical tool changed to an solid iron bar in some cases.

How does the tessen relate to the here and now of today in the martial arts?

Like our other historical training tools in the art- the spear, stick, sword, etc. the tessen teaches movement at a certain distance, in order to use it effectively one needs to be at a certain distance. In this way one can isolate and understand distance- the war fan as a training tool to illustrate and understand certain concepts.

It also teaches the importance of kyusho and how they change- weak points on the human body, based on the object being used. Kyusho that would work using open hands- shuto, fudoken, etc. still work, but now with the power of the fan, other kyusho open up.

How do kamae protect them?

The tessen, as a unique training tool, is also used as a force multiplier for many of the grappling and restraining techniques in practice, adding new dimensions and understandings to them.

Historical training tools are just hat- historical and should never be used in modern training scenarios, unless they are safe foam versions of the training tool, and under the direct supervision of a martial arts teacher. 

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Located in Westchester New York, the Bujinkan Shinmyoken Dojo is a martial arts training group founded in 2005 with the aim of coming together as martial arts friends to study the Japanese martial art of Masaaki Hatsumi through the lessons of the Bujinkan dojo.

As friends (buyu) we come together to grow, learn, and share our individual potential in this wonderful martial art.

Questions, comments, feedback, and inquiries may be emailed to the group here: BujinkanShinmyoken@gmail.com.