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I stopped practising judô and jiu-jitsu some years ago, at a blue belt level, because I wasn't enjoying this martial art as much as I used to. However, I still love the philosophy of it, and would like to get back to the dôjô to practice another japanese martial art.

I am particularly attracted by arts in which I will learn to use traditional weapons and more particularly the katana although I'd also enjoy learning to use the bô, jô and yari.

  • I did some research and found about the battodô, which seems great. However, most dôjô only teach battodô to people who are already advanced kendokas or iaidokas - which is not my case.

  • Iaidô seems really interesting particularly for its spiritual aspect but I am hesitant because of the fact every kata is done alone and there are no fights against an opponent.

  • Kendô does not attract me very much mainly because of the use of shinais instead of bokkens/katanas/iatos - yes, this is kind of stupid but shinais don't have this curved-shape I love about katanas.

  • Jôdô looks great, but although the katas are done bokken vs. jô, the knowledge seems to be centered only around the jô and the bokken is anecdotic... And well, I'd prefer to learn the bokken over the jô.

  • I also heard about chanbara, which looks fun but also uses some weapons I am not interested in. Also this is apparently a modern sport so it does not have that ancient and traditionnal aspect I love about japanese martial arts martial arts...

  • As for the yari, I read sôjutsu is not practised nowadays and you can only learn the yari through chanbara practise.

In short : So basically I'd like a japanese martial art where I will learn to use a katana/bokken/iaito (or bô, jô or yari but I'd prefer the katana) and where the katas are done with two oponents.

Can someone help me out with this choice ? Thanks in advance.

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    Possible duplicates of What martial art should I start with? and How to select the right Aikido dojo. Although this question is a little differently focused… – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Oct 12 '16 at 14:26
  • Thanks for the links, I have already read the first one. Why do you assume I don't want it to be a sport ? If I could sweat a bit while learning to use a katana, it would be great ;) As for the clubs, I just moved in to Paris and I believe I will find pretty much everything nearby. – Ctouw Oct 12 '16 at 14:46
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    Paris a en effet tous les clubes que tu veux ;) I would still look around where you live (less than 30 mins commute) just in case. It is easier to walk to the dojo after a hard day than take three trains… – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Oct 12 '16 at 14:54
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    ... et c'est bien pourquoi je veux profiter d'être là pour tester un autre art martial ;) I already looked up and, unfortunately, the only dojo I can walk to from home is an Aikidô one. But there are some more on my metro line, where I would take less than 30 minutes to go and which do the martial arts I'm interested in. – Ctouw Oct 12 '16 at 16:06
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    FWIW, small chance but given you say there's an Aikido dojo within walking distance of home: some Aikido instructors are quite accomplished swordsmen - Aikido has it's own sub-system, and my old Aikido instructor used to run a couple swordsmanship-only classes a week (before he left Tokyo for Fukuoka). – Tony D Oct 13 '16 at 16:32
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Don't discount Kendo yet!

The shinai was created to reduce the risk of injuries during the practice of swordsmanship. Combined with the bogu, it allows for semi-realistic combat practice. While I'll readily admit that the kendo rules are far removed from those of an actual battlefield, the same could be said about boxing, or most martial arts, in fact. Kendo will allow you to practice a certain number of techniques against a resisting opponent, which will teach you more about handling a live blade than practising alone, even with a real katana, ever will.

Kendo also has many katas, in which other aspects of swordsmanship are developed. Usually, a bokken is used for katas, and it's not unheard of for many students to use one during warm-up suburi (practice swings), as it's heavier and makes for a harder workout.


On another topic, you might also like to look at some karate dojos, as they usually incorporate a lot of kobudo (traditional okinawan weapons training) in their teachings.

Shorinji-ryu, the style I used to practice, is one of those. Most of their schools are grouped under the Kokusai-Butokukai banner, currently under the teachings of Jean Chalamon. One of their Paris school is directed by Max Bouton, a very nice man I've had the occasion of training with during a week long seminar in Canada.

Assuming their curriculum was similar to what my dojo used to offer, there are weapons (tonbo) in your hands as early as yellow belt. You'll move on to bo, jo, tonfa, sai and kama as you rank up. Not necessarily in that order, but the bo will definitely be a regular.

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  • There were rules on the battlefield?… ^_~ I thought there was only one: stay alive! – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Oct 13 '16 at 6:40
  • Thank you for the information about Kendô it makes me feel like trying ! I think I am going to search for a dojo and give it a try. Karate however doesn't really excite me really much - even for the Kokusai-Butokukai school with weapons. – Ctouw Oct 13 '16 at 21:12
  • @Sardathrion - That's pretty much what I meant! While you'd never want to get hit at all in a real fight, it soon becomes a second nature in kendo to barely dodge and purposefully get hit in a non-scoring manner (like moving your head so the strike lands on your shoulder) simply because the rules allow it and it's really efficient. Kendo is a lot of things, but a real life or death struggle is not one of them. – Dungarth Oct 14 '16 at 2:11
  • @Ctouw - Didn't mean my answer to sound like an infomercial for that karate school. In the end, my own personal experience is pretty much the only thing I can really offer you, and in this case it amounts to kendo and karate. But do try kendo! It's really exciting, very physical and it really brings out your competitive spirit, all that while learning another culture and how to wield a blade. Most of all, it's fun! – Dungarth Oct 14 '16 at 2:15
  • And I didn't want my comment to give you the impression I tought you were advertising for this karate school :D I went to a iaidô lesson on friday, and am going to give a try to kendô as well this week to see which one I prefer. – Ctouw Oct 17 '16 at 7:25
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See if you find a dojo practicing the Nishio school of Aikido. They place a lot of focus on katana and stick fighting...

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=nishio+aikido

As you can see, many of the classic Aikido techniques stem from swordfighting; and Nishio placed a lot of focus to show this relationship (much more so than other styles). There are plenty of techniques like unarmed vs sword or stick vs sword and so on, of course sword vs sword as well.

That dojo will very likely also have Iaido classes on top.

If you don't find any Nishio Aikido dojos, keep looking for any dojo that offers both Aikido and Iaido, they will likely also have courses combining the two. Just give them a call and ask.

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  • Interesting. I'll give a call to the Aikidô dôjô in my street : their flyers show people fighting with bokkens. – Ctouw Oct 17 '16 at 7:46
  • "in my street" - magic words. Having one close to you would be the dream, of course. – AnoE Oct 17 '16 at 9:01
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Since you are in a location (Paris) that has a plethora of dojo, I would strongly suggest you check out as many different styles as you can1. In summary, look at places and chose the one where you have the most fun.

As Dungath states in his answer, do not discount Kendo. Some clubs will be very physical and might well teach iaido as well.

But if it is weapons you are interested in, look for Chinese arts, Filipino, and European historical fencing as well. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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    So you think it is possible to find a club where I can learn simultaneously Kendô and Iaidô ? Looks like the perfect solution to me. I'm going for some research. – Ctouw Oct 13 '16 at 21:14

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