As explained in the section on history, Kashima-Shinryû first took shape when MATSUMOTO Bizen-no-kami Ki no Masamoto developed Ichi-no-tachi. This technique represents the ultimate physical expression of an approach to swordsmanship founded on the balanced application of Fivefold Laws (goko-no-hôjô) known as: Motion and Stillness as One (dôsei ittai), Origination and Manifestation as One (kihatsu ittai), Offense and Defense as One (kôbô ittai), Emptiness and Reality as One (kyojitsu ittai), and Yin and Yang as One (in'yô ittai).

    A spiritual counterpart to this technique was introduced by the twelfth-generation shihanke (headmaster), KUNII Taizen Minamoto no Ritsuzan, when he formulated Musôken (unbeheld sword). Ichi-no-tachi illuminates the Fivefold Laws to reveal their operating principle of regeneration (shintô no genri), while Musôken distills the Fivefold Laws into kiate-no-koto (striking with ki). Kashima-Shinryû developed through this kind of process, in which each headmaster struggled to further refine the underlying principles of the art into techniques that more closely approach the ideal of shinbu (sublime martial and moral power). As a result, the technical applications that they devised do not stand apart from one another, but include within themselves the germs of all other techniques from this same matrix which is Kashima-Shinryû.

    Just as essential as the Fivefold Laws, which provide Kashima-Shinryû with a unified set of philosophical or metaphysical principles, are the Five Vectors (hô-en-kyoku-choku-ei) which present a unified set of physical principles to govern Kashima-Shinryû movements. They dictate that all techniques must conform to certain fundamental patterns of spiraling interactions. Since Kashima-Shinryû teaches that the ultimate goal of martial art practice is to realize the "original creative principles of the universe," the martial techniques that one practices also must be performed as a part of the same beginningless and ceaseless cycle of emergence, reintegration, and re-emergence (hakken, kangen, suishin) exhibited by all natural phenomena.

    The way that members of Kashima-Shinryû stand, for example, allows their sword to be in the same location when a technique is initiated and when the technique is finished, so that the dynamic motion of the swordstroke encompasses within itself an unmoving stillness.

    The present form of Kashima-Shinryû resulted from the efforts of the eighteenth-generation shihanke, KUNII Zen'ya (1894–1966), who cultivated his martial art training to the very limits of human endurance as he re-evaluated in light of the Fivefold Laws each of the techniques handed down by tradition and sought to re-elevate them to the highest spiritual levels of Japanese martial art, which he identified as "Takemikazuchi's Sword of Hôyô-Dôka" (acceptance and resorption). This constitutes the essence of the martial art that the nineteenth-generation shihanke, SEKI Humitake, inherited and that he now teaches to the next generation in a manner consistent with modern educational methods.

Kashima-Shinryû forms a comprehensive martial art system, within which each one of its techniques has both omote (outer) and ura (inner) applications. In this framework of outside and inside as one (hyôri ittai), its outer systems consist of kenjutsu (swordsmanship), kaikenjutsu (dagger techniques), battôjutsu (striking while unsheathing the sword), jôjutsu(stick arts), sôjutsu (spearmanship) and naginata-jutsu (the art of the glaive) and so forth, while its inner systems consist of jûjutsu (grappling), bôjutsu (stick arts), and so forth. In accordance with the circumstances an outer technique can, even as it is being applied, become an inner technique. Because each and every technique rests on the same principles as every other technique, if one masters the basic techniques of kenjutsu and jûjutsu, then one can freely and skillfully employ the techniques of any other area of the Kashima-Shinryû martial art curriculum, such as polearms and so forth.

For this reason, a brief synopsis of the kenjutsu and jûjutsu curriculums should suffice to reveal the underlying structure of Kashima-Shinryû's martial art curriculum as a whole.



    Kashima-Shinryû kenjutsu training follows a curriculum organized into the following series of exercises: Kihon Tachi, Ura Tachi, Aishin Kumi Tachi, Jissen Tachi Gumi, Kassen Tachi, and Tsubazeri - Taoshiuchi. Battôjutsu constitutes an indispensable adjunct to kenjutsu. All of these exercises are informed by kuden (oral initiations).

Kihon Tachi
This series corresponds to the "Hôjô-no-Kata" that were handed down within the shihanke lineage during the period when it was known as Jiki-Shinkageryû. Originally the Hôjô-no-kata consisted of a set of five exercises, but the fourth generation shihanke, OGASAWARA Shingensai, reorganized them into a set of four exercise. Later, when the twelfth-generation shihanke, KUNII Taizen, revived Kashima-Shinryû on the basis of the Tengu sho (Tengu Scroll) he returned to the original idea of a series of five exercises as the basis for training in swordsmanship.

The Kihon Tachi exercises consist of standing encounters (tachiai) that enable one to internalize the ultimate attainment (gokui) of "Sword, Mind, Body: Three as One" (ken-shin-tai sanmi ittai). They always are performed with bokutô (wooden training swords). These are the techniques that beginners learns to practice as soon as the join Kashima-Shinryû, and they are the techniques that all members, no matter how advanced, practice at the beginning of every workout. Although seemingly simple, they consist of the distilled essence of all Kashima-Shinryû techniques. For this reason, even after earnestly exploring martial art training for ten years or twenty years, one still cannot exhaust all the implications hidden within the intriguing depths of the Kihon Tachi.

Ura Tachi
These exercises require that one learn how to apply techniques when moving toward one another (yukiai) and calculating the engagement distance and timing (maai) as one draws near. As one trains in the Ura Tachi exercises, one begins to understand that Kashima-Shinryû techniques are not reactive, but require one to proactively seize the initiative (sen-sen-no-sen). This approach is completely different from strategies based on countering an incoming attack.

Aishin Kumi Tachi
These exercises require that one learn how to use spiraling movements to merge one's sword with the initial flow of energy or ki and thereby master a situation in which both sides attempt to use the same moves against one another. The sword techniques practiced in these exercises are the same as those once performed by high-ranking warriors even prior to the formation of Kashima-Shinryû as an identifiable lineage. For several hundred years they were handed down and refined by successive generations of the Kunii family.

Jissen Tachi Gumi
These exercises require that one learn how to master encounters that begin just outside of striking range (ippô ittô maai). At the instant the shitachi (active partner) initiates the encounter, the uchitachi (senior partner in the teaching role) responds by reading and following his movement in an attempt to seize the initiative (go-no-sen). The shitachi, therefore, is required to perform his techniques at the higher level of urawaza (obverse technique). During the nineteenth century when Kashima-Shinryû, under the name Shinkageryû, was taught to warrior activists in the Mito domain and elsewhere, kenjutsu training focused on this set of exercises alone.

Kassen Tachi
These exercises require that one learn how to master techniques suitable for battlefields during the days when combatants wore traditional Japanese armor and charged one another from a distance (yukiai). These techniques exploit the armor's weak points and employ sophisticated mechanical principles to topple the opponent.

Tsubazeri - Taoshiuchi
These exercises require that one learn how to master encounters when locking sword guards with difficult-to-handle expert opponents. Without abandoning one's sword, one employs a special kind of jûjutsu.



Kashima-Shinryû teaches Battôjutsu as a kenjutsu encounter that begins while one's sword is still in its scabbard. Real Japanese swords (Nihontô) are used for practicing battôjutsu. These exercises require that one learn how to respond to the uchitachi's attack by evading his swordstroke as one unsheathes one's own sword and seizes control of the situation. Beginners learn the basic moves by practicing solo with an imaginary uchitachi. Paired practice, however, is essential in order to master the ability to detect and flow with the uchitachi's energy or ki.



Oral initiations (kuden) give life and meaning to the above (and to all) training exercises by insuring that they are performed correctly, that their significance is fully grasped, and that they are grounded in the context of Kashima-Shinryû philosophy and lore. Without access to the oral initiations (in the form of a certified teacher), one cannot even begin to learn Kashima-Shinryû martial arts. It should be obvious, therefore, that someone who lacks full initiation into this lore does not know real Kashima-Shinryû and cannot teach it. Even more obvious is the fact that it cannot be learned merely by observing and then blindly imitating the movements of someone else whether in person or from video tapes.


Outside and Inside as One

    As one attains certified mastery of the above series of kenjutsu exercises, which constitute outer systems, then one should be able to learn new techniques of inner systems, such as jûjutsu or bôjutsu, easily in as little as a single day's training. This is possible because the basic bodily movements used for kenjutsu also are used for all other aspects of Kashima-Shinryû's martial art curriculum. In other words, one practices exactly the same movements during jûjutsu (etc.) training as during kenjutsu (etc.) training.

    Nonetheless, because differences in physical power can play such a major role in the effectiveness of inner systems, for beginners regular training is essential in order to master the basic patterns of spiraling interactions which enable one to complete a throw in a single movement and to project energy or ki in a highly effective manner.



To develop these abilities, Kashima-Shinryû jûjutsu training follows a curriculum organized into the following series of exercises: Reiki-no-Hô and Reikinage, Idori, Tachiwaza, Nagewaza, Kumiwaza Gusokudori, Toritegaeshi, and Ushirowaza. Naturally, all of these exercises are informed by Kuden.

Reiki-no-Hô and Reikinage
These exercises are not organized into an explicit series of techniques, but consist of the underlying movements upon which all Kashima-Shinryû jûjutsu techniques are based. They enable one to move one's body while neutralizing and projecting energy and to develop physically powerful moves. According to the mythology recorded in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, 712), Reiki-no-Hô was performed for the first time by Takamikazuchi-no-Mikoto, the deity of Kashima, when his mission to pacify unruly earthly gods was challenged by another deity named Takeminakata. According to the myth, Takeminakata attempted to take hold of Takemikazuchi's arm. The latter, however, changed his arm into a column of ice, and then changed it again into a sword blade, causing Takeminakata to draw away in fear. Next, Takamikazuchi took hold of Takeminakata's arm, grasping it as if it were a young reed, crushing it, and throwing it aside. When practicing these exercises, therefore, one attempts to emulate the sublime power described in this mythical language.

These exercises are performed as sitting encounters (iai) while positioned on the floor with one's legs tucked underneath one's body (i.e., in seiza). Since this posture restricts one's freedom of movement, all superfluous actions must be eliminated. Moreover, techniques cannot be effective from this posture unless one learns how to generate energy from the tanden (i.e., lower abdomen) and projected it when one initiates a move. For this reason, these exercises require that one master how to detect, deflect, and ultimately control the energy or ki of the ukete (senior partner in the teaching role).

These exercises are performed as standing encounters (tachiai) while upright in a natural stance. Many of these exercises duplicate the same moves as in the Idori series, but with free use of one's legs. Each exercise begins with omotewaza (manifest techniques) that invite the ukete's kaeshiwaza (counter techniques). These exercises require, therefore, that one learn how to apply omotewaza themselves at the level of urawaza (obverse techniques).

These exercises are performed as moving encounters (yukiai) that introduce more difficult distances and timing. They require that one learn how to respond to an attack with the most mechanically efficient use of force and, therefore, are excellent exercises for mastering and internalizing the fundamental principles expressed in the Kashima-Shinryû teachings of the Fivefold Laws and the Five Vectors.

Kumiwaza Gusokudori
These exercises teach grappling techniques that would have been used on a battlefield by combatants wearing traditional Japanese armor when, having lost or broken their long weapons, they would charge one another from a distance (yukiai). Like the Kassen exercises in kenjutsu, these jûjutsu exercises convey the flavor of an earlier age. Since armor restricts one's freedom of movement, these exercises require that one learn how to exploit the mechanical principles of a lever and pulley.

These advanced and eclectic exercises focus on countering a wide variety of possible attacks consisting of grappling, punching, kicking, or even small hand weapons such as knives. Some exercises involve situations in which one lacks free use of both arms or where obstacles prevent movements in certain directions. These exercises require that one learn how to freely apply the principles of Kashima-Shinryû jûjutsu to any and all circumstances, including ones unique to modern industrialized society.

These exercises focus on attacks that originate from behind one's back.



Of course, oral initiations are just as essential for learning jûjutsu as for learning any other aspect of Kashima-Shinryû. One should never attempt to practice any of these techniques without direct supervision by a properly certified teacher.


Kata Training

Kashima-Shinryû training consists of traditional methods of paired pattern practice (kata keiko). These patterns are performed in a highly realistic manner that allows students to internalize skills that can be employed freely without rigid adherence to any predetermined formal elements (such as rhythms, sequences, stances, etc.). For this reason, Kashima-Shinryû training always regards patterns as flexible living matrixes and never as dry, formal, predetermined "forms." Old traditions (koryû) must be mastered as living, dynamic, and effective martial arts.