The samurai were trained in the art of wielding the Japanese katana in various ways. The most common and historically accurate training method was calledjutsu-no-shinobi, or “art of stealth”. The training of swordsmanship through this method is relatively simple. It involves a group of samurai practicing with live blades against multiple enemies. The samurai are split into groups for this practice and are placed behind barriers, usually about fifteen to twenty feet apart. So, How were samurai trained in the art of wielding the Japanese katana?
The training location of the samurai was the kuro-kubi, which translates to “black tree”, or “black pine”. The location is located in what is now called the Honjo-Enbu-ji temple complex. This site is located between Otsuki and Kiyosu, near Honjo city. It was at this site that the Japanese warriors trained in order to become proficient with their katana.
Age of Warriors
The age of the trainees depended upon how far along they were in their training and how skilled they became. The teenagers of the warrior class, who had completed their first year as warriors, could practice, at the earliest, at age fifteen. If the trainee was older than his peers, he completely prepared himself for the training by shaving his head except for a top-knot in the rear. This was done to show his maturity over his younger peers and that he had completed his studies on swordsmanship.
The schedule for training each day was quite rigorous, so much so that the students rarely had time to enjoy activities outside of school and family life. The morning would start with breakfast at 6:00 am, followed by a short meditation session and prayer. This was followed by sword exercises at 7:30 and a run at 8:00 am. They would practice archery throughout the morning until lunchtime. After lunch there was meditation, followed by another short session of sword training. After this there would be a third session of training, most likely a lecture on strategy. They would practice “Sekigahara-no-kata” during the final hour of the day, before dinner at 6:00 pm. The evening was reserved for study and to relax.
The requirements that were put on the students during their training were quite extensive. The students were expected to be able to run over 300 meters, swim across a pond and to do 100 push-ups and 300 sit-ups in proper form. The “Kihon-no-sho” called the course of instruction that was given. These courses were taught by the sensuikan or other instructors of the iaijutsu school, and those who had mastered them were called kakko.
Despite what most people would imagine, they were not permitted to use live blades during training. Instead they were trained with wooden training swords. These weapons were used to teach the students various forms of fighting, from defensive to offense and from strikes to throws. They had no sharp edges and were as light as bamboo sticks. A further advantage was that they could not be stained with blood or dirt. In addition, during the early days of training, it was only the budo-nin who were permitted to bring their katana during training.