What is Nito Ryu Kendo?
"What? Is Nito Ryu accepted in kendo?"
Many people would probably think like that.
Nito Ryu is the art of the sword that allows us to fight with two swords, one in each hand, also known as the famous style of Musashi Miyamoto. Nito Ryu is sometimes seen in movies and TV shows, so everyone should have heard of the word "Nito Ryu" itself.
"But, we usually hold a shinai with both hands in the modern kendo world. Are we allowed to use two shinais in a tournament? Isn't it a penalty?" There may still be people who think like that. In fact, it has been a long time since Nito Ryu has been accepted in kendo, and there was a Nito kendo player who was one of the most successful players in national level kendo tournaments in prewar days.
The Nito Ryu prohibition period and the road to recovery
During a short period in the postwar years, kendo was prohibited by the GHQ in Japan. Nito Ryu kendo was prohibited in elementary, junior high and high school kendo tournaments as a result of a variety of circumstances in the course of the resurgence of kendo.
In 2001, the Student Kendo Federation lifted a ban on adopting Nito and finally, Nito Ryu was allowed in tournaments of college students or older.
However, the number of instructors who are able to teach Nito techniques was decreased remarkably due to the long-standing rule against Nito. That's why we seldom see Nito Ryu players in recent tournaments.
We, "Niten Ichiryu Musashi Kai" have inherited science and theory of the two swords martial art (the art of the sword) called "Niten Ichiryu (the School of Two Swords)" established by Musashi Miyamoto over 400 years ago to carry over into modern world; devote ourselves and practice daily in order to revive the ultimate Nito Ryu in the modern kendo world while maintaining the tradition of the old martial arts in Musashi's era.
Why don't you take advantage of this opportunity to get interested in Nito Ryu kendo?
Do you know the science of Nito Ryu?
You may know "Nito Ryu" as a sword technique that allows us to fight with two swords, one in each hand, however, there may be remarkably few people who exactly know specific Nito techniques, in other words, how to wield both swords in a proper way.
There were various Kata (sword forms) of two swords taught by other schools before Musashi Miyamoto established "Niten Ichiryu", therefore, it is not always clearly perceived that Musashi was the founder of Nito Ryu. However, those schools mainly use one sword and use two swords as subordinate while Musashi's "Niten Ichiryu" was the fist school using two swords exclusively.
Since "Niten Ichiryu" had quite a big effect on other schools using two swords established after Musashi Miyamoto's era, after all, we must say that Musashi Miyamoto established the art of the sword called "Nito Ryu".
For the reasons stated above, we recommend you start out by studying "Niten Ichiryu" in order to learn Nito Ryu.
Is Nito the wrong path?
The word "Nito Ryu" may be widely known but many people don't know actual techniques of Nito Ryu. So, those people who rely solely on the image of the word "Nito" tend to think that Nito Ryu is a swordfighting style that has it "both ways", and call Nito kendo players as two‐sword fencers (in a negative way) who use one side when he/she can't use the other side.
On top of that, there are many professional kendo players who identify Nito Ryu with the proverb "He who runs after two hares will catch neither", don't even
However, is Nito Ryu really the wrong path, not even worth to learn for kendo players?
The real meaning of Nito Ryu
Musashi Miyamoto described the reason why Niten Ichi Ryu uses two swords as "to get used to wielding the sword in one hand" in his "The Book of Five Rings
Therefore, technically speaking, Niten Ichi Ryu is the school of two swords that teaches us how to wield the sword in one hand but how to fight with two swords.
Musashi was strongly against being obsessed with or persisting on one thing. Thus, it doesn't make sense to persist on the Itto chudan no kamae (middle guard position with one sword) in fighting, of course, and obsessing with the two swords style doesn't make sense either.
You have to be able to fight under any circumstances on the battlefield. When you have two swords, you should fight with two swords to take maximum advantage of them. When you have just a sword or a Kotachi (a short sword), or whatever other weapon you are wielding, then use them as samurai warriors would always best utilizing weapons to gain victory by any means.
Therefore, the real meaning of using two swords for Niten Ichiryu is to master the science of sword by practicing daily to be able to wield two swords freely, the long sword in one hand and the short sword in the other to handle any situation.
That said, learning Nito Ryu for kendo players is not to become a professional Nito player by mastering two-swords fighting techniques, but rather to utilize the training method for the Nito style to acquire flexibility and a wide range of kendo techniques and spirit.
二天一流 第１７代 師 範 中 村 天 信 監修
二天一流「武蔵会」副会長 佐々木 博 嗣 編著