Kenjutsu is the art of samurai swordsmanship and is a suitable activity for both men and women. It develops high levels of coordination, self-discipline and control. The exercise it offers is stimulating but not over-taxing, and properly conducted there should be no physical contact, therefore little chance of injury.

Samurai-arts teaches a comprehensive style of Ken-Jutsu

Kenjutsu was the main combat art of the samurai. The sword was the samurai’s “badge of office” and signified his position in society as well as being a practical weapon. To learn Kenjutsu, then, demands an appreciation of the responsibility and dedication placed upon those who wore the sword centuries ago. It demands that those who practice it today give the same respect to the art.

Dave Butler, chief instructor of Samurai-Arts has studied several styles of samurai-swordsmanship including Iaido, Batto-Jutsu and Shinken-jutsu and continues to pursue advanced teachings of these arts.

To limit teaching to just one of these styles of swordsmanship would eliminate the many positive teachings of the other schools. Samurai-Arts therefore maintain a broad perspective.

Sensei Butler has studied under some of the worlds foremost exponents of the art in Japan, Europe and the USA. This includes a 15 year period as student of Obata Toshishiro in the art of Shinkendo where the grade of Toku-E and title of Kyoshi were granted by Obata Sensei. Butler was a student of Obata Sensei in the late 1980’s and had brought Obata Sensei to New Zealand before Shinkendo was developed in 1990 and again in 1996 after it’s establishment. New Zealand was in fact the first location outside of the USA to open a school of Shinkendo. In addition, 4th Dan Rankings have been granted to Butler in Toyama Ryu Battodo and a 4th Dan in Kobudo Batto-Jutsu by also by Kokusai Budoin in Japan. Photos of training with Obata Sensei are at bottom of this page.

Subsequently Samurai-Arts has become closely affiliated with two of the worlds highest authorities in traditional Kenjutsu. The first is The Shinbukan under Soke Tetsuan Kuroda – a genuine family Ryu-ha teaching several of the ancient samurai disciplines, and secondly with the World headquarters of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu which is recognised as the oldest school of kenjutsu in Japan. Here studies are completed under the guidance of Kyoshi Adam Wong. Both schools were visited during 2008.

Kenjutsu has five main facets:

  • Suburi – sword swinging exercises
  • Batto-ho Kata – prearranged sword drawing forms
  • Tanrengata – solo kata forms
  • achiuchi – prearranged kumite or partner sparring exercises
  • ameshigiri – test cutting with a live blade.


Safety is of paramount importance in Kenjutsu.

To achieve this, training begins using wooden swords called bokuto. Following, sword drawing is often practised using an iaito, moguto, or unsharpened practice sword. The ultimate goal is then to progress towards perfect technique and use of a live blade in tameshigiri. This can only occur after the instructor is satisfied that the student has achieved sufficient skill and competence to do so with safety to themselves, other students and spectators.

Hanshi Tadao Ochiai, 10th Dan Iaido was one of the Kokusai Budoin IMAF grading panel who presided over Kyoshi Butler’s 4th Dan Batto-Jutsu-Kobudo and 5th Dan Ju-Jutsu Gradings in 1996
Weapon arts should only be practised under the supervision of an appropriately qualified instructor. Safety with sharp-edged weapons is especially important for obvious reasons and the temptation to practice without proper supervision must be resisted.

Please feel free to attend a Kenjutsu training session at a Samurai-Arts registered dojo



Samurai Battle