A Guide

Classical Japanese Swordsmanship

The ryu listed below all include some form of kenjutsu in their curriculum. Some are arts centered around the sword; others are focused more on one of the other weapons of the bushi. A warrior’s central weapon was always first and foremost the sword, so most ryu extant today (many of which are merely a portion of what were once more comprehensive systems) include kenjutsu. More information, together with photos and links to relevant resources, can be found on the page devoted to each school. Useful general resources are also listed below. Please keep in mind, however, that this list is by no means comprehensive. Many of the extant kenjutsu traditions are not yet listed, so the fact that a school’s name does not appear means relatively little. Those that are listed, we can and do “vouch for.”

General resources


Hokushin Itto-ryu

late Edo period (ca. 1830)

Kashima Shinryu

ca. 1450

Muso Shinden-ryu

late Muromachi period (ca. 1590)


early Edo period (ca. 1615)

Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryu

early Edo period (ca. 1640)


late Muromachi period (ca. 1573)

Asayama Ichiden-ryu

Tensho (1573-1593) or Keicho (1596-1615)

Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu

late Muromachi period (ca. 1570)

Kashima Shinto-ryu

Muromachi period (ca. 1530)

Kogen Itto-ryu

mid-Edo period (1783)


Tensho (1573-1593)

Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu

early Muromachi period (ca. 1447)

Sekiguchi Shinshin-ryu

early Tokugawa period (ca. 1640)


Eisho period (1605-1520)

Mizoguchi-ha Itto-ryu

early Edo period (ca. 1630)

Yagyu Shingan-ryu

early 1600s

Yagyu Shinkage-ryu

late Muromachi period, ca. 1568



Ono-ha Itto-ryu

early Edo period, ca. 1630