Koryu that are not like Kendo at all
In the previous post I listed the various branches of Itto Ryu and asked you to consider the similarities between their use of the sword and Kendo.
Sometimes when one becomes used to a certain way of doing things, one can fall into the trap of thinking that is the only, or maybe the best, way of doing things.
In learning iai kata of Tatsumi Ryu, we are trying to break out of that thinking by exposing ourselves to a system devised long before even the Itto Ryu was founded. This means that there are some fundamental differences in how the sword is used.
In these posts I am mostly interested in the differences in how to swing the sword.
In Kendo, and indeed in most of the styles of iaido practiced today, the fundamental cutting action is a straight up-and-down action often referred to as kirioroshi, cutting through or cutting down.
In Tatsumi Ryu, the characteristic action where the sword first goes through a circular backswing before cutting downwards is called kowauchi, or 'powerful strike'.
There are a number of ryuha (styles) that also have very different approaches to using the sword than how we do in Kendo. They are too many to mention here, but I will post videos to a few of them for you to consider.
Firstly, it is historical convention to see the origin of sword-fighting systems in Japan as having started from a number of ur-lineages: the Chujo Ryu, the Nen Ryu, the Shinto Ryu and the Kage Ryu. Many of the videos below show styles that still exist which are descended from those originator styles.
Like the Nen Ryu, there are not many versions of the Kage Ryu in existence. This is partly due to the success of the Shinkage Ryu (New Kage style), which, as the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, was one of the official styles of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Nevertheless a few do exist and they are quite fascinating. This video was shot by me many years ago and it's pretty rough but I think it is still the only video of the Satsuma Kage no Ryu online. Apparently there are some clear connections in style between this ryu, and another of the Kage Ryu family, the Jikishinkage Ryu (the 'shin' in 'Jikishinkage' is not the character for 'new' but the character for 'heart/mind').