The Relationship Of The Sword And The Spear (Kenjutsu & Sojutsu)


There is a famous sword saying which goes something like this…

“Hell exists before the upraised sword, step in and heaven will be your reward.”
… which among other things expresses the dynamic of the sword and spear (yari) together. Proper distance with the sword is literally the expression of life and death in motion- make one mistake, get a little close, and you can be cut. Of course often if your training partner can get you, you can get them, but not with the spear!
Ironically we tend to think of the sword historically as the primary battlefield weapon, when in truth it was the spear. At various points in Japanese history a good spearman was worth a half a dozen good swordsman.
Why was this?
Perhaps it was because the spear existed outside the distance of the sword? An extra few feet and then the blade/spear point is a huge advantage.
If all of your kata and cutting practice only involve a training partner with a sword, when the distance is changed against a spear all your skill is returned to that of a beginning if it is your first time. Forms (kata) are expressed through a sword training partner, but this is only the starting point- other distances need to be explored, understood, and prepared for.

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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.