Is it possible to train with two swords in kendo?
(Saskatoon, SK, Canada)
I have an interest in training with two swords. Is that possible and if so how would I find an instructor?
Is it possible? Yes, it is possible. However, personally if you do not have a good instructor, I don’t recommend it.
It is said that if you practice and train chudan (the basic stance of kendo), you will be able to take jodan or nito (two swords). In other words, if you cannot do chudan well, you won’t be able to take jodan or nito.
I was reading a Japanese kendo magazine the other day and it had special articles on three well-known jodan kendo-ka.
One of them was Chiba sensei (8th dan, well-known and respected jodan kendoist). He said, “Do not take jodan because you cannot win a shiai (match) in chudan. Jodan should not be used because it is hard to fight with or it looks cool. I don’t even take jodan in my training. Many of my current students don’t even know I take jodan”.
Not only him. I mentioned him because he is one of the best jodan kendoists in Japan. Many jodan kendoists say that they believe that they should also train with chudan really well and practice jodan.
Besides, even though one-handed strikes are the main strikes from jodan, they still use both hands. In nito, on the other hand, you only have one hand to execute strikes.
You should be able to control a shinai with one hand and have to know maai (distance) well. Also you need to know the body movements and footwork.
Once you have learned chudan, it is easier to learn jodan and nito. Only easier. You have to learn them thoroughly.
About instructors. There are not many people who can teach nito. Until recently, nito was not even used in shiai (match). I think it was prohibited for a long time if I recall it correctly.
If you have not done kendo more than 15 years or if you are not 4th dan or above, I don’t recommend learning nito. You can try but learn chudan more than anything else.
Update: If you really want to know about nito, there is a DVD called Kendo Principles IV - Nito-ryu Two Swords
. Nito is introduced by the world well-known Nito kendoist, Matthew Raymond. I have not watched this so I am not too sure what you can learn from the DVD.