Why does Tenshinryu use two swords?
Samurai culturally wore two swords. This is similar to how modern military personnel use different weapons for medium and short range. If you are in a small room, or if you do not have a big sword, or if your big sword is damaged, use the subweapon Wakizashi.
Why is the folding fan attached to the obi?
This is because folding fans are one of the must-have items for samurai. A particularly large Sensu(Kawahori-sensu 蝙蝠扇子) was an exceptional item that was only permitted to be used by the samurai class, and samurai carried the folding fan with them regardless of the season. Folding fans are not only used to send wind, but are also used in samurai etiquette. It is used to give instructions with a folding fan, to use the folding fan as a tray, or to create a boundary by placing the folding fan in front of you when bowing. And in Tenshinryu, it is sometimes used as one of the weapons. For this reason, Tenshin-ryu always wears a folding fan during practice.
Can non-Japanese students learn?
Of course. Certainly, there are those who say, “Because of linguistic, cultural, and mental problems, it is impossible for anyone other than Japanese to truly learn traditional Japanese martial arts.” But we don’t think so. Those who have visited Japan know this. Most modern Japanese do not wear kimonos. Nor do they walk around wearing swords, much less chonmage hairstyles. The language of today and the language of the Edo period are different. Everyone rides trains, uses smartphones, eats Western food, and uses Western-style houses and toilets. If their theory is correct, the modern Japanese also cannot truly understand traditional Japanese martial arts.
Can women join?
Of course. Tenshinryu at the back is for men. Historically, however, there have been only a few (female martial artists and female samurai. In addition, from the perspective of the contribution of traditional culture to society in this day and age, it is an important cultural value to make life more positive by learning Tenshin-ryu. Surprisingly, in Japan, half of the students are women.
What’s the minimum age to start training (for children)?
There are no specific regulations. Even among samurai families in the Edo period, the age at which they began practicing martial arts varied. Although some students are elementary school students, we place importance on doing it safely, not hindering their growth, and mental stability and growth.
What does the name of the style mean?
It means “style according to the Ten(天) mind.” Ten here is the Tokugawa Shoguns and is a large superordinate concept that refers to the Emperor, the myriad of Japanese deities, and Japan itself. Ten(天) also hides the homonym Ten (転), which is another Chinese character. This Ten (転) indicates the extreme meaning of Tenshinryu, “Everything is always transforming.
What are the stages of training?
Tenshinryu has seven Den-i (伝位 ranks): Hatsuyurushi(初許), Nakayurushi(中許), Okuyurushi(奥許), Kirigami(切紙), Mokuroku(目録), Menkyo(免許), and Kaiden(皆伝 and Soden 相伝). The final stage, Kaiden, is one in which one Shike(師家) chooses one Shike(師家) to deposit. Thus, in effect, there are six stages up to Menkyo. However, these require at least 20 to 30 years of modern practice to complete. Since it is very difficult to pass even the first rank, small steps are formulated and worked on.
Is Tenshinryu an iaido?
No it’s not. Iaido is one of the genres of modern martial arts. It is also a federation organization of multiple martial arts groups, especially after the Pacific War.
In the Edo period, Iai also meant “Batto(drawing a sword)” or “style of Batto”. However, the term Iai in particular is not used in Tenshinryu as a form of Batto, since the term Iai was used by the style whose founder was Hayashizaki Jinsuke. This is because Tenshinryu has different roots from the style originated by Hayashizaki Jinsuke.
It’s just a matter of definition of the word, but this is very important to maintain the purity of the style, so even now Tenshinryu does not use the term Iai to refer to Batto(抜刀 or 抜剣 Bakken,抜き Nuki).
How many Kata are there in Tenshinryu?
I don’t know exactly because there are too many. I’d say at least 500 or so. However, it is not just the number of techniques, but the number of strategies, tactical wisdom, and knowledge that accompanies them is even greater.
But the important thing is that there are not many principles that make up the foundation. If you can acquire the basics firmly, the number of techniques is just a repertoire, and it will be easy to learn.