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Ono Ha Itto Ryu Kenjutsu Syllabus & The Fundamental Cut - Kiri Otoshi

Itto Ryu is one of the main schools of Japanese sword and was highly influential in the formulation of modern Kendo.  One of the interesting features is the use of 'Onigote' or 'Devils gloves' - it is interesting to think of what a difference training equipment can make - certainly two of the most important schools (Ono Ha Itto Ryu & Yagyu Shinkage Ryu) made a lot out of their use of training tools.  Next to the Onigote are a pair of Kendo Kote for comparison.

Much of the information with regards to the syllabus and some central ideas I found already collated in a work by Guy Buyens which can be found here.

Please note that for the most part, the following is a direct copy of Buyens work.  Please see his original article for more detailed information - link above.

There are many Kata (形)in Ono-ha Itto Ryu.

Each Kata is performed by Shidachi (受太刀), against Uchidachi (打太刀), who wears Onigote (鬼籠手), protective gloves (lit devil’s gloves). 

In Ono-ha Itto Ryu, Uchidachi (striking/attacking sword) is often the most advanced student who will guide Shidachi (doing/presenting sword), since Uchidachi “presents” Shidachi with an opportunity to practice his Waza, usually by initiating with a strike. 

Note: Ono-ha-Itto Ryu has a particular way of counting its kata. When there is more than one encounter (or a series of victories), they are all counted as techniques. For instance in odachi, after number 5, there is futatsugashi (lit. 2 victories) which is number 6 through 7.    

Odachi The basic series of 50 victories from 36 encounters (some encounters have more than one victory) with both opponents using the odachi (大太刀), in kumidachi (組太刀) style. When referring to the first 5 kata, it is common to call them ipponme, nihonme,.., gohonme (sometimes followed by the name of the kata). After that only the name of the kata is used. Each kata is performed by shidachi, against uchidachi, who wears Onigote. Before the kata starts, there is a formal start, Kumidachi no Hajime (組太刀の始め) in which both opponents perform rei (礼). At the end of the kata there is a formal closing, Kumidachi no Osame (組太刀の納め). In between kata, when the opponents resume their place, the sword or bokken is held in the right hand in a posture called Kamae otoku. Both opponents start far away and then move in. All initiatives start from a distance called Itto issoku no ma (一刀一足の間). 

First 25: 1  IPPONME 一本目; Hitotsugachi 一つ勝: One victory2  NIHONME 二本目; Mukaizuki 向突: Driving Thrust3  SANBONME 三本目: Tsubawari 鍔割: Break Tsuba4  SHIHONME 四本目: Gedan (no) kasumi 下段霞: Lower (Ground) Mist5  GOHONME 五本目: Wakigamae no tsuke 脇構付: Sticky Block (from Wakigamae) 
6-7 Futatsugashi 二つ勝: Two Victories 
8-9 In To 陰刀: Shadow sword 
10 Gedan no Uchi otoshi 下段之 打落し: Bash from below 
11-12 Norimi乗身:RidingBody 
13 Hitotsugachi 一つ勝: One victory 
14-15 Gedan no Tsuke chu seigan下段之 付け 中正眼: Sticky Block from Gedan and Chu Seigan 16-17 Orimi折身:BendBody 
18-19 Suriage摺上:Slideup 
20  Wakigamae no Uchi otoshi 脇構之 打落し: Bash from Wakigamae21  Honsho 本生: Real life22. Jodan no kasumi 上段霞: Upper Mist 
23-24 KobushinoHarai拳之払:SweepingFist 
25 Ukki 浮木 : Floating Wood 

The next 25 are: 
26 Kirikaeshi: Returning Cut 
27-28 Sayu no Harai: Sweeping left and right 
29-30 Gyaku no Harai: Reverse Sweeping 
31 Chishou: Born from the earth 
32 Chishou no ai-gedan: Born from the earth, meeting low
33 In no harai: Sweeping shadow 
34-35 Maki gasumi: Rolling mist 
36-38 Maki kaeshi: Rolling return 
39 Hikimi no hongaku: Pulling back from hongaku 
40 Hikimi no ai-gedan: Pulling back, together with gedan 
41-42 Hotsu: Departure 
43 Uragiri: Treachery 
44 Choutan: Long and short 
45 Haya Kirikaeshi: Quick return 
46 Jyunpi: Touching the fish’s skin 
47 Nuke Jyunpi: Descale the fish 
48 Tsumari: The jam 
49-50 Amari: The left over

1-2 Futatsugashi: Two Victories 
3-4 Gedan no Tsuke: Sticky Block from Gedan 
5 Hotsu: Departure 
6-7 Sayu no Harai: Sweeping left and right 
8-9 Norimi: Riding Body

Ai Kodachi1 Uragiri: Turning the table (Treachery) 
2-3 Norimi: Riding Body 
4 Suriage: Slide up 
5 Kobushi Dome: Fist Stop 
6-7 Hotsu: Departure 
8 Nukiuchi: Sudden attack

Other kata include: 

Kojo Gokui Goten: 5 kata

Tatchiai Batto : 5 kata 

Although all kata can be performed with a sword, the last series (batto) is always performed with a sword (iaito, habiki, shinken) instead of a bokuto. In this series, kata start with the sword sheathed.


Kiri-otoshi (切り落し

Kiri-otoshi is both the main technique and idea (philosophy) of the school. In Kiri-otoshi (dropping cut), the idea is to wait for the attack to initiate, but when appropriate, to cut down at the same time as the enemy cuts down, along the same line as the enemy’s cut (straight through the center of the enemy’s body). 

By overriding his sword (displacing it with the Shinogi), the attack is disrupted before it can be completed, thereby creating the condition of Shini-tachi (dead sword) in the enemy’s techniqueKiriotoshi continues to Men or through to Chudan (Kissaki at the enemy’s Nodo). 


I will paste below what the then current head had to say in a short interview with Douglas Tong regards to kiri othoshi, followed by links to the interview.

Question: In your opinion, what makes your style unique among sword styles? 
Sensei: Kiri-otoshi. 

Question: Do you mean the kiri-otoshi technique from kata #1 “Hitotsu Kachi”? 

Sensei: Yes. Kiri-otoshi is both technique and idea. ** (** we may perhaps consider here the term “idea” to be interpreted as “the driving concept and philosophy of the style”

Full interview: part1part2part3.

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