I'm in the unfortunate position that I'm interested in Japanese martial arts employing weapons, but there aren't any teachers/dojos in my are that I can go to. And the ones that are far away aren't affordable enough to me (and despite possible advice, I don't want to drive an hour+ away for lessons). However, I don't have much interest in "empty hand" martial arts.

I don't have too much martial art background. I took escrima lessons for about 3 or 4 months and learned a few of the basics with the rattan weapons there. However, since I'm a Buddhist, I'm particularly interested in more of the meditative weapon arts, such as Iaido and Kyudo. Having said that I have an immense interest in Sojutsu (spear) and Naginatajtsu as well.

I am well aware that having a teacher is always the most preferable path. But are there any options available to me to learn any other of these arts? If so, which art form would be the most plausible to being self-taught? As of now, I'm not too interested in competing and this is purely for my own self-practice. I enjoy the "solitary" martial arts very much. Any advice?

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    How functional of training are you looking for? And are you asking about styles or ways of training without a teacher? There are a ton of videos out there, ranging from VHS to DVD to streaming. Alternately, if you're not worried about following a particular lineage of martial arts, or having something functional, there is always the option of just watching swordwork that you like, and replicating it. Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 13:41
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    I'll just say have a look at my answer at the following link. It describes a general formula for distance learning on your own. While it was for grappling, the same concepts apply to anything... martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/4315/… Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


I don't practice Iaido or Kendo myself, but I will have a stab at answering this.

As Iaido is often practised Solo this is perhaps one of the few styles that could be learned with minimal input from an instructor. Kendo would be much harder to learn in this way as it is a pair form style with blunt sword substitutes and is designed for competition in pairs.

For this reason I recommend learning movements from Iaido and similar styles (maybe bits of Katori Shinto Ryu?) from videos and then practising in front of a mirror.

Alternatively Aikido is a lot more sword oriented than is commonly believed. Many of the foot movements are more suited to sword use than to unarmed combat. This may be a good choice as a way of learning the basic foot movements. You could move on to the sword afterwards. Bear in mind though that Aikido is a Shinto Martial art and not a Buddhist one.

You may find the following resources useful, there are many others though. The bottom one is free and others are available for purchase.





As for a meditation focus, there may be an advantage to learning https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ky%C5%ABd%C5%8D. This is a Zen Buddhist martial arts style focused almost entirely on reaching progressive states of enlightenment through focusing on loosing arrows from a bow. (hitting a target is not required)

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