Pamela S. Turner

Yoshit­sune’s World

Fight­ing Techniques

KENDO video

We know very lit­tle about the sword­fight­ing tech­niques of Yoshitsune’s time. Sword mas­ters pre­ferred to keep their tech­niques secret and passed their skills direct­ly to their stu­dents. The mod­ern art of kendo (“way of the sword”) mim­ics duels between two unarmed oppo­nents, and legal strikes are lim­it­ed to the opponent’s head, throat, right wrist, and abdomen. Mod­ern kendo prac­ti­tion­ers use a bam­boo sword (shi­nai) which wasn’t invent­ed until many cen­turies after Yoshit­sune. Yoshit­sune would’ve used a wood­en prac­tice sword.

Inter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing in kendo? Con­tact the All U.S. Kendo Fed­er­a­tion, the Cana­di­an Kendo Fed­er­a­tion, or the Inter­na­tion­al Kendo Fed­er­a­tion.


Horse­back archery (Yabusame) is still prac­ticed in Japan, usu­al­ly as part of a shrine cer­e­mo­ny. The most well-known yabusame rit­u­als are held in Nikko and Kamaku­ra. These rid­ers are gal­lop­ing down a straight course and aim­ing at sta­tion­ary tar­gets. Imag­ine rid­ing in cir­cles around a mov­ing oppo­nent while try­ing to fire arrows into the small gaps in his armor.


Nag­i­na­ta were also used in Yoshitsune’s time. This is a mod­ern kendo vs nag­i­na­ta match, using pro­tec­tive gear and bam­boo weapons rather than steel. Inter­est­ed in learn­ing how to wield a nag­i­na­ta? Learn more.

KYUDO video

Kyu­do is tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese archery. In the video you’ll see that some of the archers are prac­tic­ing on a wood­en horse to pre­pare for yabusame. Learn more.

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Yoshit­sune’s World

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