Today, there are 2 main paths of Japanese swordsmanship available for martial arts students. The first is the path of cultural preservation (e.g. koryu and gendai-budo), and the second is the path of competitive sport fencing (i.e. kendo).
At Yozan, our mission is to offer a third path: a unique combination of rigorous instruction in authentic kenjutsu techniques, complemented by guided self-reflection and open philosophical discussions. Please join us, as fellow travelers and warrior-philosophers, on this intentional journey of meaningful self-discovery and personal growth.
Please contact us if you cannot find an answer to your question below.
The term kenjutsu encompasses the diverse philosophies, strategies, and training methods of traditional Japanese swordsmanship. Our own curriculum at Yozan specifically focuses on those techniques and skills which were intended for use in actual combat by samurai using their swords.
There are other important terms that are related to (but are sufficiently distinct from) kenjutsu, such as batto- & iai-do and kendo. Our system incorporates the most relevant aspects, including gekken (sparring), from those other arts.
Shinken (live steel blade) of any length will only be allowed by explicit prior permission from the instructor, and only for special occasions, such as tameshigiri (test cutting).
The vast majority of our training involves a bokken (aka bokuto). While wooden bokken are beautiful and traditional, they are susceptible to splintering/shattering over time. Our preference is for modern polypropylene which has excellent durability. We have several bokken for class use (on a first-come basis), but every student should purchase their own personal bokken with plastic saya (scabbard) as soon as possible.
For beginners, comfortable sweats or an appropriate uniform/gi from another martial art will be acceptable. However, those who decide to continue their training should purchase a suitable uniform with an obi belt as soon as possible.
Those who wish to spar should wear suitable protective gear. Minimum requirement is an appropriately padded martial arts helmet. More advanced gear (e.g. kendo bogu; HEMA gear, etc.) are optional.
Gekken (sparring) is the martial focus of our curriculum. Rather than the rote memorization of solo and cooperative/paired kata for their own sake, our way emphasizes the practical application of sword fighting techniques under pressure and against a resisting opponent.
Minimum requirement for sparring is an appropriately padded martial arts helmet. More advanced gear (e.g. kendo bogu; HEMA gear, etc.) are optional.
We take every precaution to ensure your safety. However, the potential for injury is present in any activity. Always. You could slip and fall in the shower. Just sitting at a desk for too long can contribute to heart disease. There is no "perfect safety" anywhere, ever.
To live is to accept the risks that come with being alive.
Courage is one of the principal virtues of our kenjutsu program. In order to walk the warrior's path, you must first make up your mind to confront and properly deal with your fears. Of injury. Of defeat. Of embarrassment. Of life itself.
We can (and sincerely want to) help you to embody the spirit of courage through your training, but it is ultimately a decision that you and only you can make for yourself.
Short answer: No. But in-person private lessons are possible.
Longer answer: The style of kenjutsu we offer at Yozan is grounded in the belief that improving one's swordsmanship absolutely requires pressure testing against a live opponent in a controlled environment. While there are some solo drills and kata, the core of our curriculum require a partner to learn and practice.
We understand and appreciate the reasons why virtual martial arts lessons have risen in popularity, especially since the start of the covid pandemic. Without commenting on the efficacy of other systems/schools, however, it remains our belief that learning sword techniques without interacting with both cooperative and uncooperative partners is as useful and informative as "learning" to swim (in concept) but without ever getting into water.
Students must be 18+ to enroll. The philosophy and design of our curriculum is intended for a mature/adult audience from diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences.
There is otherwise no upper age limit. O-sensei Sugino Yoshio, preeminent master of the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu (an ancient koryu of ~600 year history), for example, still practiced and taught into his 90's. In Japan, it is not at all unusual to visit a dojo to find elderly practitioners of kendo, iaido, etc. performing kata and even light-impact sparring in their 70's and 80's.
Moreover, we absolutely oppose any discrimination based on race, gender, or any other aspect of your personal identity, and openly welcome EVERYONE to train with us. Indeed, there are records of many formidable women warriors (onna bugeisha) in Japanese history (e.g. Tomoe Gozen), whose legendary combat prowess and courage continue to inspire today.
Under certain special circumstances, the entire tuition may be waived at the instructor's discretion, allowing you to train with us for FREE or for as much or as little as you are able to contribute. Please read this page for an example.
Please use the contact form to make an appointment to visit a class session. Class sizes are limited (no uninvited walk-ins).
75 Berlin Road (Unit 102), Cromwell, Connecticut 06416, United States