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The History and Background of Japanese Kendo Kata

By Honda Tasuke

(Translated and added to by Robert Stroud)

The Japanese police force first established a unified system of kendo kata by combining various traditional sword schools or Sho Ryu Ha. This was referred to as Keishicho Gekken Kata or Police Department Attacking Motion Kendo Kata.

Kenjutsu Era:

Meiji 13, 1880 Outstanding kenshi, from different ryu ha were hired by the police in order to standardize the instruction of kata and develop a new kata system. By 1886 ten Kata had been created based on different kata of traditional ryu ha.

Meiji 28, 1895 Dai Nihon Butokukai (Great Japan Martial Virtues Association) established.

Meiji 32, 1899 Butokuden (Kyoto, Okazaki area) built.

Meiji 39, 1906 Butokukai unified kenjutsu ryu ha because kendo had been introduced as a subject for the public school system. Dai Nihon Butokukai Kendo Kata. At that time three kamae were established, Gedan no kamae (person), Chudan no kamae (earth) and Jodan no kamae (sky).

Ryu Ha Major Sensei
Shinto Munen Ryu Watanabe, Noboru
Shinto Munen Ryu Shibae, Umpachiro
Musashi Ryu Mihashi, Kanichiro
Jikishin Kage Ryu Tokuno, Kanshiro
Kyoshin Mechi Ryu Sakabe, Daisaku
Shinto Munen Ryu Negishi, Shigoro
Jikishin Kage Ryu Abe, Morie

Kendo Era:

Meiji 44, 1911 Kendo became a junior high school subject. Dai Nihon Butokukai started the Butoku Gakkou school. This helped increase the growth of kendo. Therefore a standard kata set which did not favot any one particular ryu was needed for kendo instruction. The Mombusho, the Japanese Ministry of Education, requested to be part of the committee to establish kata through out Japan. Butokukai established a kendo kata research committee, to draft a standard, at the same time. It was composed of 23 experts from various ryu-ha.

Taisho 1, 1912 Dai Nihon Teikoku Kendo Kata or Great Imperial Japan Kendo Kata October completed. It consisted of 7 tachi long sword forms and 3 kotachi short sword forms.

Taisho 16, 1917 Additional kendo kata material added to standard by Naito, Takaharu; Takano Sasaburo; Kadona, Tadashi; Nakayama, Hakudo and Minatobe, Kuniharu. Showa 8, 1933 With more additions to the original standard the material was finalized.

















Kodachi Ipponme


Kodachi Nihonme


Kodachi Sanbome


ZNKR Seitei Gata

Iaido is art of simultaneously drawing and cutting with the katana (Japanese samurai sword). (can be said to be around 400 years old, since the method of wearing the sword thrust in ones obi on the left side was not popular until shortly before the start of the Tokugawa period, 1603-1868.)

In 1967 the ZNKR created the first 7 iai waza, created from numerous iaido ryu. The forms consisted of three seiza, one tate hiza and three tachi-ai kata.
In 1977 three more tachi-ai forms were added, bringing the total to ten. 
In 2000/2001 two more were added, bringing the total to 12.

Opening torei
1 - Mae (To the Front)
One enemy in front in seiza.

2 - Ushiro (To the Rear)
One enemy in seiza behind you.

3 - Uke Nagashi (Take and give back)
One enemy on the left in seiza.
4 - Tsuka ate (Strike with the handle)
In tate hiza, one enemy in front and one behind.
5 - Kesa giri (Diagonal cuts)
One enemy approaches from the front.
6 - Morote tsuki (2 handed thrust)
Two opponents from the front, one from behind.
7 - Sanpo giri (3 direction cuts)
Three enemies, one in front and one on each side.
8 - Ganmen ate (Strike to face)
One enemy in front and one behind.
9 - Soete tsuki (Companion hand thrust)
One enemy on the left.
10 - Shiho giri (4 direction cuts)
Four opponents, approaching from the four corners.
11 - So giri (Many cuts)
One or more enemies approaching from the front.
12 - Nuki uchi (Draw & Cut down)
One enemy attacks from the front.

Closing rei

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