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Swords, Cutting and Military History

Interview with a Jigen Ryu attack sword instructor

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“One cut, one kill…
We have no defensive techniques. We don’t think about defending ourselves.
We simply focus on cutting down the enemy.”

These are quotes from the subtitled text of this fascinating Youtube video of an interview with Hiroharu Wada, head instructor of the Jigen Ryu Tokyo dojo, from Vice Japan.


Jigen Ryu Instructor Hiroharu Wada


Jigen Ryu is  a traditional school of Japanese martial arts founded in the late 16th century by Togo Chui (1561-1643) in Satsuma Province, now Kagoshima prefecture, Kyushu, Japan. It focuses mainly on the art of swordsmanship, including maintaining training in the use of the odachi, an immense curved sword some four to six feet (1.5 to 2 metres) in length.

Jigen-ryū is famous for its “attack only” philosophy, for its emphasis on the first strike: Their teachings state that a second strike is not even to be considered.



Note: Youtube transcript windowThis interview is conducted in Japanese, but has an English Close Captioning transcript.  Many people are reporting the subtitle function isn’t working properly (the black box appears, but no letters).  If this happens to you, look for the transcript icon just below the number of times the video has been viewed; see the image to the right.  Click on this and the transcript window will open.

The line of text which should be appearing in the subtitles box will be highlighted, and will automatically move down the script as the video continues.


Jigen Ryu also famously maintains the tradition of “cutting down to the earth’s axis”, in which they develop devastatingly powerful cuts by practicing the striking a heavy stick on a horizontal bundle of heavy sticks, or an upright wooden pole or tree.   They also practice powerful kiai yells in order to intimidate an opponent, as shown in the next two videos.



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