Prior to this time, most of the martial arts were dependent on the use of the limbs and wood as weapons. With the introduction of
metallic weapons like the sword, martial arts entered a new vista. Whether you are a passionate fan of these arts or a neutral observer, what you cannot take away from martial arts includes the grace, elegance, and timeless poise of the styles, methods, and techniques employed. This is quite interesting in the sense that combat in martial arts can be barehanded or weapons-based. In the case of weapons, the sword is of interest here. However, in order to have a very good understanding of the sword-based martial arts, it is important to talk about the swords that are used.
Types of Swords
These swords are of different types and expectedly employed in the different styles of sword-based martial arts. The jian or the Chinese sword is thin, lightweight and flexible martial arts sword. This type of sword is a particularly excellent choice for stabbing moves. The jian is a very popular and much-cherished tool in the wushu tradition. Another type of sword is the dao. This sword, which is broad, curved and heavy, is also Chinese. The dao is used mainly for slashing, penetration, and chopping. The katana or the legendary samurai sword from Japan is regarded as the ultimate weapon in martial arts. It combines lethal range and control with strength. Furthermore, these swords are employed in various styles of the martial arts. The most popular styles of sword-based martial arts are the battojutsu, kendo, and iaido.
Sword-based Martial Arts Styles
Kendo is widely practiced in the Far East, especially in Japan and Korea. Kendo, a Japanese fighting tradition, is based on sword fighting. According to the gurus of the martial arts, kendo developed from the swordmanship culture of Japan. This combative tradition is referred to as kenjutsu. An expert or specialist in the art of kendo is known as a kenshi or kendoka. Just like other forms of martial arts, kendo aims to purify the human body and soul by instilling the values of courage, discipline, endurance, honor, peace and courtesy. The development of kendo is intricately woven with religions. Buddhism, especially in its Zen form is a particularly good example in this regard. The religious undertones are also observed with other martial arts.
The art of the sword is the translation for the traditional Japanese sword based martial art of Kenjutsu. Learned by the ancient
Japanese warriors along with several other martial arts both armed and unarmed, this is one of the martial arts that was studied in preparation for battle. Today this martial art is usually taught as a practice to use in addition to another martial art form. This martial art trains the body and mind as well as teaching proper etiquette and respect. All of these were important to the warriors who were taught sword wielding through this martial art form.
Gatka is a martial art of Indian descent and was developed by the Sikhs. Although the name Gatka refers to a stick weapon, the main weapons employed by this martial art are types of swords. The types of skills that are used with this martial art depend on the type of weapon that the wielder is using, and there are many swords to choose from when using this form of martial arts. As with many of the other martial arts, Gatka has been widely trained in a religious setting. This martial art involves coordinating both halves of the body, and the fighting styles of each individual and weapon choices for them are based on the types of movements of each individual fighter.
Iaido on the other hand, is another style of the sword-based martial arts. However, it is different from other styles like the kendo. This is because the iaido has precise, gracious, and formalized moves as compared with kendo. This is also apart from the fact that iaido is competitive in nature. It was developed from iaijutsu and modified by Nakayama Hakudo. However, iaido should not be confused with kenjutsu, which is in a realm of its own. Also, because of the fact that sharp swords are used during practice and combat, iaido carries a higher risk of debilitating injuries and fatal blows than some other sword-based martial arts.
In addition, battojutsu is another style of sword-based martial arts. Although the battojutsu is not for competitive duels and combats, it places a lot of emphasis on the sword. In fact, in this style, there are special techniques for cutting with the sword. These are called the battokiri. Unlike other styles like the iaido and kendo, battojutsu is not too popular, even in Asia. Other forms of sword-based martial arts are iaijutsu, tatsumi-ryu, mugai-ryu and takenouchi-ryu.
Yet another sword-based martial art is Haidong Gumdo. This martial art focuses on developing all aspects of the mind, body, and spirit. Rather than the study of the duel, this martial art focuses on using the sword in a real battlefield scenario and all of the demands on the person that come with it. There is some mention of this martial art as far back as the 300’s AD, however it is not by the name Haidong Gumdo as this is the modern name for this martial art form. While the name may mean many things to many people, the one constant is that it is a martial art based on swordsmanship.
Eskrima is a Filipino martial art, the name was actually adopted from Spanish with esgrima being the word that they used for fencing. Eskrima was a martial art that was learned by the Filipino villagers as a defense against attacks from neighboring villages. There were many different weapons used in this style of martial art including bladed weapons such as swords, weapons made of sticks, whips, and many more. This martial art only trained movements that were easy to teach and exceptionally effective. So while this may be a martial art that is looked upon as simple, that is only true to the extent of teach-ability. Eskrima is an all inclusive martial art that trains the whole body as well as for all situations including unarmed and armed, all ranges of combat, and all types of moves from wrestling to pressure point.
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