Seiryukan Dojo

Seizankai Toyama Ryu Batto Jutsu

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In 1873, in the Toyama district of Tokyo, the Rikugan Toyama Gakko, or Toyama Military Academy, was established to train the officers and non-commissioned offers of Japan's modern, western style army. Part of the curriculum taught was Japanese fencing and swordsmanship.

In order to teach their personnel the most effective method of swordsmanship, the Academy drew upon the techniques of the then living master swordsmen. These techniques from various old schools were performed from a standing position. One of the teachers brought in to develop this practical sword system was Nakayama Hakudo. Nakayama sensei's background in Eishin Ryu became the basis for the original standing forms. Morinaga Kiyoshi, a fencing instructor at the Academy, reworked the kata and expanded them to seven by dropping one of the original and adding three. It was this combination of techniques as adopted by the army that became the foundation of the Toyama School of swordsmanship.

In 1939, a twenty-seven-year-old kendo instructor by the name of Nakamura Taizburo, was selected to attend the Academy. After six months he qualified to be an instructor of Jissen Budo, the combat martial arts of sword, knife, and bayonet. This marked a major turning point in the evolution of Toyama Ryu Batto Jutsu.

While teaching kenjutsu in China, Nakamura sensei, who also studied calligraphy, was inspired by the thought that eiji happo, the eight rules of calligraphy, might also apply to swordsmanship. While practicing the ei character, he saw that the eight brush strokes traced the trajectory of a sword while cutting. From this came the realization that there were only eight distinct cuts possible with the sword, all others just variations. of the theme. He began to organize his realizations and ideas into a system of practical swordsmanship devoid of meaningless techniques.

Our particular style is Seizankai Toyama Ryu Batto Jutsu as taught by Hataya Mitsuo sensei, 9th dan Toyama Ryu Iaido and Kaicho of the Zen Nihon Toyama Ryu Iaido Renmei. Hataya sensei has raised the standards and requirements in his dojo above all the others in Japan to ensure his students rank among the best. At the Seiryukan Dojo, we follow his standards.


The purpose of tameshigiri, or test cutting, in Toyama Ryu Batto Jutsu, is to test the cutting ability of the sword, gain experience in striking a solid object, and improve timing, distance, angle, and grip.

The targets we use consist of makiwara, tightly rolled straw mats called simply tatami mats, that have been soaked in water. These offer uniform weight and thickness that best replicate human flesh.

Because a samurai lived or died by his ability with a sword, it is essential that he able to perform a cut successfully.  Now matter how good the sword or how sharp, it is only as effective as the person wielding it. Hataya sensei has pointed out to us repeatedly, that no matter how well you are able to perform kata, if the cuts you make during kata are light and ineffectual and cannot cut through a tatami mat, then you are only dancing.

For this reason, tameshigiri is a fundamental part of Toyama Ryu Batto Jutsu training. While the kata teaches correct footwork and body movement, it is only by cutting an actual target that reveals whether or not a proper cutting technique is being used. 

Strength, speed, and technique alone are not enough. The correct swing technique and blade angle, hasuji, must combine with proper distance, kirima, to make a successful cut. The mind, body, and spirit must combine at the very instance of cutting. This is the objective of Seizankai Toyama Ryu Batto Jutsu.