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Japanese Swordsmanship: BattoDo

Batto-Do is the practice of drawing and cutting in a single motion within the arts of Japanese swordsmanship. These methods have been taught and carefully transmitted from one generation to the next ever since Japan's feudal era, when a Samurai's life depended a great deal on his skill with the katana.
Practice in this art begins with a bokuto, a wooden sword with which the student learns the 8 basic postures, 8 directional cuts, and 8 re-sheathings. Kata are taught as a protection against the arbitrary and are a fundamental method for teaching and understanding principles such as posture, footwork, and moving in unison with the sword.
At the intermediate level, the student trains with an iato, which is a real sword that is purposely unsharpened for safety in practice. At this point, the student learns kumitachi, or partner sets, in which principles of timing and distancing are refined as two swordsmen face off in a set of predetermined kata.
At the advanced level, students use a shinken, or sharpened sword, to test their skills in cutting using rolled up tatami (straw mats) as targets. This is called tameshigiri.
Anyone desiring to learn these methods must possess a great deal of patience and focus, as the learning process is long-term and extremely detail oriented. Although progress may seem slow, dedicated training in Batto-Do dramatically sharpens awareness, enhances coordination, and perfects concentration.
  Sword training is great for Martial Artists that have had to stop doing the art they love due to injuries from Sport Karate, Kung Fu or Judo & BJJ matches. Many of our teachers in Japan grew up doing Karate or Kendo, but transitioned into Iaido to keep their passion alive while improving their body and mind instead wearing it down with excessive sparring or competition karate.
The Hidden Dojo 2016-6960.JPG
I have been training in this Dojo for nearly 7 years now, and I can honestly say that not only is it one of the longest operating martial arts schools in the Antelope Valley, but it is also one one of - if not the -  finest.
Yes, It is a bit hard to find (tucked away in a pseudo industrial park), but once you do find it you are introduced to an easily accessible bit of Japanese Culture and Martial Arts.
In this school one will learn Japanese Jujutsu. This art is the "father" of Judo, BJJ, Aikido, and more. This art teaches throws, joint locks, and grappling, as well as striking methods that aim to create a well-rounded student.
Also taught is Batto-Do - a style of swordsmanship that utilizes the Katana in both test cutting and in kata (forms).
The head instructor,  Derek Morris, in addition to the years he spent living in Japan, has created and maintained relationships with the heads of our arts, and it allows us to benefit from these connections. We get instruction that is undiluted, and as a result, we get a level of understanding that is unsurpassed in most dojos. This first-hand knowledge and relationship allows students the opportunity to visit and train in Japan if desired. Numerous students have made the trip (myself included), and it enhances your life and training in many ways.
It can become cliche to say that martial arts training makes you a better person, but its true. Training allows for changes in health, in fitness, and in personal development. You become more focused, more determined, and more self-aware. Morris Sensei, and the other instructors will ensure that as a student, you too will develop these traits.
This dojo is NOT in the business of belts and fees and tests and fees and contracts. Here you will WORK for your rank - and value it that much more.
There are NO CONTRACTS and NO HIDDEN FEES. You pay your dues, you train, and you learn. If you progress, you are rewarded. If not, you work harder. That is quality training. This dojo wants you to succeed and grow, and if you desire that, the instructorrs will see to it.
Stylistically and culturally, this is the closest you'll get to training in Japan, and it's certainly an Island in the AV's sea of poor quality martial arts schools.
I strongly suggest this school if you are interested in Japanese Martial Arts, Language, or even culture. 

-Don B.

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