Points

Kenjutsu is the art of the Japanese longsword, or katana. The katana held a privileged place for the samurai class - it was said to house its owner's soul. Its manufacture was a mystical ritual that combined metallurgical skill with a strong sense of aesthetics. It and the fighting methods used with it have become legendary.

Samurai most often wielded the katana in two hands, and the style described here favors two-handed methods. The blade was balanced well enough for one-handed use, though, and there were schools that weighted one- and two-handed use more evenly. These would feature more Broadsword techniques.

Kenjutsu places much emphasis on the cut. Fighters learn to thrust but usually use their sword for deep slashes. Likewise, while Kenjutsu teaches a full range of parries, it isn't a defensive art. Stylists commonly make Committed and All-Out Attacks. The classic Kenjutsu tactic is to dash the opponent's blade out of line with a Beat (pp. 100-101) and then finish him with a cut. Ultimately, Kenjutsu is a highly aggressive style.

Kenjutsu training uses the bokken (wooden sword). This is safer than a bare blade, but severe injuries can - and did - occur during practice. Musashi Miyamoto (pp. 21-22) felt that the bokken was deadlier than the katana, and used it or improvised substitutes to fight lethal duels.

When it comes to legends about weapons and their wielders' abilities, the katana and Kenjutsu have few rivals. In a cinematic game, nearly any skill or technique that could conceivably work with a sword should be available to one ryu or another. A few schools reputedly taught how to throw either the katana or the wakizashi (shortsword) as a secret tactic of last resort!

Secret methods needn't be cinematic, however. Historically, Kenjutsu was only part of a particular ryu (see Ryu, p. 12). Warriors normally studied the katana alongside the other weapons in the samurai arsenal. Kenjutsu ryuha were unusually numerous, though - there were more than 700 during the Tokugawa era! The differences between them were typically minute and only distinguishable by advanced practitioners, but many schools were rivals that keenly guarded secret techniques from one another. Thus, a realistic ryu would probably teach only a subset of the techniques from the extremely complete list below - stressing some moves over others - while possibly adding optional ("secret") components.

Today, Kenjutsu schools are extremely rare. Would-be students must typically seek out instruction in Japan. Kendo (p. 175) is far more common.

Korean swordsmen use a weapon very similar to the katana, called the jang gum. Korean sword arts are nearly identical to Kenjutsu in game terms, and should use the components listed below. They're less likely to offer Fast-Draw or techniques for two-sword fighting, though, and practitioners make jumping attacks (treat as Committed or All-Out Attacks) more often.

Skills: Broadsword; Two-Handed Sword.

Techniques: Back Strike (Two-Handed Sword); Counterattack (Two-Handed Sword); Feint (Broadsword or Two-Handed Sword); Targeted Attack (Two-Handed Sword Swing/Arm); Targeted Attack (Two-Handed Sword Swing/Neck); Targeted Attack (Two-Handed Sword Swing/Skull); Targeted Attack (Two-Handed Sword Thrust/Neck); Targeted Attack (Two-Handed Sword Thrust/Vitals).

Cinematic Skills: Blind Fighting; Flying Leap; Immovable Stance; Kiai; Mental Strength; Power Blow.

Cinematic Techniques: Dual-Weapon Defense (Two-Handed Sword); Timed Defense (Two-Handed Sword); Whirlwind Attack (Two-Handed Sword).

Perks: Grip Mastery (Katana).

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