Kenjutsu – Kumitachi

Duel with the Katana

Partner exercises with a sword are called Kumitachi. Apart from Kata and Tameshigiri, Kumitachi is essential Mugai Ryu training. Employed here is almost solely the Bokuto, a hardwood sword following the shape and look of a katana with which Iaidoka train attack, defense and counter-attack.

Kumitachi not only trains the techniques of attack, defense and counter-attack but also the distance to the opponent and the moment of reaction to an attack as vital elements.

Kumitachi uses predetermined movements in which one partner assumes the role of attacker (Uchitachi) and the other one the role of defender (Uketachi). For beginners, every movement begins with a hint on the side of the defender signaling that he is ready and concentrated.

The cuts of the attacker aim at the defender and would hit him if he would not defend himself. Usually the defender gains the upper hand. He finishes the exercise with a cut or thrust to decide the “battle”. However, the partner is not actually hit by this last action. The roles/sides are switched regularly.

Kumitachi requires a high degree of attention and body control as well as absolute trust in the partner and so is usually practised only by Dan-Graduates. The Koryukai Dojo leads the Iaidoka relatively early but cautiously to a first Kumitachi experience, training only basic exercises.

If trust in the partner or one’s own abilities is missing or if an attack is done hesitantly or half-heartedly, things can get dangerous. So it is at the discretion of the teacher who may do Kumitachi. Here too, experience and safety are gained by training.

Kumitachi is in no way looked at as a fight against each other but as a partner exercise leading to mutual success. It is for this reason that the more experienced Iaidoka assume the role of the attacker (Uchitachi) in order to better control the situation.

Aside from Kata and Tameshigiri, Kumitachi belongs to the essential training of Mugai Ryu. Mugai Ryu contains Iai as well as Kenjutsu/Kumitachi.