NihontoDo (日本刀道, NihontōDō), translated as “Way of the Japanese Sword”, is a modern, hybrid kenjutsu system that significantly utilises sparring as a method of training.
Techniques in NihontoDo are based on the use of the katana, and its modular syllabus encompasses four main aspects of modern swordsmanship: sports, combative sparring, drawing and sheathing of the sword, and test cutting.
Established in 2007 by Masters David “Dav” Sabobel (Creator) and James Wee (Patron), the NihontoDo system strives for accelerated learning, through simplicity and emphasis on mastery of fundamental sword techniques.
Designed for the novice with no martial arts background in mind, the NihontoDo syllabus is kept simple for easy learning. Complex techniques are omitted, while perfecting the fundamentals is stressed.
Full speed sparring is also a staple of training, to hone techniques and reflexes. Padded safety equipment (Actionflex) is used throughout all levels; in Combative Kenjutsu, the bogu (traditional armour) and a stiffer fibreglass/polymer sparring weapon are used.
There are five modules in NihontoDo. While these modules are distinct in terms of content, they must be progressed through in sequence. Combative Kenjutsu and Battodo are interchangeable in sequence, depending on class availability.
The first module is Entry Level, or “SwordPlay”, for junior practitioners. In this starting module, you will learn about the weapon, equipment, rules, etiquette, and 5 basic techniques.
The next module is Sports Kenjutsu. Here, you will learn NihontoDo’s 8 guard positions, attacks, and movements, and how to put them together. Sparring will further hone your technique and reflexes. Once you earn your Black Belt, you will start to use the iai-bokuto (wooden sword with scabbard) to learn drawing and sheathing.
The next module is Combative Kenjutsu. Here, the full-contact nature of armoured samurai combat is simulated. You and your opponent will be wearing bogu (traditional armour) and using stiffer fibreglass/polymer sparring weapons. On top of your already-polished sword cutting techniques, you will be learning locks, sweeps, and takedowns, for use inside the katana’s minimum range. Only open to Shodan practitioners and above.
The next module is Battodo (Way of Drawing the Sword). Where in Combative Kenjutsu you focus to conquer your opponent, here you will focus to conquer yourself. You will learn the art of drawing, cutting, and sheathing a steel sword properly and safely to perform a kata (form) simulating an encounter with a virtual enemy swordsman. Only open to Shodan practitioners and above.
The final module is Tameshigiri (Test Cutting). In this module, you will be required to execute a variety of cuts using a live blade on a pre-determined target or series of targets made from rice straw or bamboo, which mimic the consistency of flesh and bone. This is the ultimate test of a swordsman’s (or -woman’s) proficiency with the blade. Only open to Yondan practitioners and above.