Why Study Kenjutsu?

 

In this day and age one often has to ask what value the study of kenjutsu (Japanese swordsmanship) has in modern day society. Clearly with the advancement in technology the age of the sword is over, and one could even make the case that the age of the gun has also expired.
So why devote serious time to the sword?
Well, like many spiritual practices there are many benefits both up front and deeply hidden in the practice.
The primary reason to study the sword is much like playing a musical instrument or learning how to paint- it is an exact art that expresses creativity through devotion and extreme concentration. Cultivating the attributes of the sword- patience, focus, compassion, and discipline gradually carry over into real life and benefit the practitioners other interactions.
For those interested there is also the competitive side of study where you compete against a training partner under a set of well defined rules (kendo). Building strength, speed, and stamina you constantly test and refine your ability which of course has obvious benefits to personal development.
And then there is the cultural aspect of the study. In our modern time nothing stays the same. Technology, customs, and society is constantly changing and evolving, yet with the study of the sword one continues to do things exactingly as they were done hundreds of years ago. In this way, there is an inherent immortality in the sword, the strength that comes from participating and drawing on a culture and heritage that is unchanged since samurai times.
From here the benefits transcend to the experience, a place where words cannot accurately capture or describe the benefits- much like a picture is worth a thousand words. It is said to truly understand the (Japanese) martial arts one has to understand the sword- the two are one and the same.
Given the cultural and military importance of the sword, at the highest level of teaching and strategy the sword is the bridge to communicate this- how can one even begin to experience these teachings if one can’t simply hold a sword correctly and execute even the basic cuts required of a novice?