Ryuseiken Battodo

Japanese swordfighting

Now that we have a bunch of folks with padded swords (goshinken) in the Kodenkan class, we can have full rounds of Shogun again.

This is a team sport we created to make sparring even more fun. The basic rules are:
  • two teams of equal numbers armed with goshinken - best if 5 on 5
  • each team picks a leader daimyo
  • The real goal is to eliminate the daimyo of the opposing team, but you can take out their players (hatamoto) as well
  • There are at least two, if not three judges who make the calls
  • Once hajime is called, players can start moving to an attack; they need to wait at least 1-2 seconds before they attack right after hajime (i.e., they cannot whack someone right away after start)
  • Once matte is called, all players must freeze wherever they are in the battlefield. The judges will call one name, and confer with other judges. That person was "killed" successfully by another player
  • Each time it is stopped, only one player is eliminated, even if two judges see two different kills simultaneously. (it helps to keep the game going longer)
  • If the judges do not see you making a good kill or getting killed, or call it out, the fighting simply continues
  • The daimyo starts within their castle, a square of safe ground. They can stay within the castle until there is only one other hatamoto from their team left. Then they must step out of the castle
  • The daimyo can attack and kill others but must first leave the castle, wait 1-2 seconds before they attack. They cannot jump out of the castle, hit someone and jump back in, nor can they kill people from inside their castle.
  • Since this is unarmored and with no headgear, no attacks to the head or face are allowed.
  • Players must use both hands on the sword at all times--no one handed cuts are allowed--unless the judges declare it possible (for advanced students)
  • The points are actually based on which team wins the rounds, not how many kills are made.
  • The round is over when one (a win for the other team) or both (a draw) of the daimyo are killed.
  • There is no "official" length of a round, but the judges may set a time limit.
  • No arguing with judges
The rules are actually quite short and you can get the hang of the game very quickly. There is a lot of start and stop in this game, because sparring tends to be very fast paced. It's also hard for the judges to constantly keep an eye on the different fights. What they are looking for are clean attacks and hits, not dual-clashes, improper hits, or just very slight grazes.

Yesterday, we had about three rounds in about 30 minutes. We randomized teams each time, but luckily we had enough goshinken with different colored tips for each team, so people could tell each other apart.

I have to say that in the last round with three sempais and myself, against seven of the other students, Dusty sempai and myself, the bigger guys, got eliminated pretty quickly, but Monica Sempai held her own at the end against four remaining opponents for a while, and even killed one of them.

Shogun gives people a better understanding of just how chaotic a battlefield really is without the element of fear for your life in there. Most people have a hard time enough just recalling their sword skills when you have multiple coming after you. So it gives the students a better appreciation for focus (mesen), directional movement (tai-sabaki), and definitely blocking (uke-waza).

At the same time, it's a lot of fun and that is why all the players who have tried it so far just love it.

-rawn sensei

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Comment by Kimy Ryan on October 8, 2007 at 9:23am
Ditto. First time player, and it was awesome.

Web sites & Resources

Matsuri: A Festival of Japan (2008) - Phoenix, AZ, Feb 23-28, Heritage Square

Battodo Ryuseiken in Japan. Also a partial site in english.



The Kodenkan of Tucson



The UofA Ryuseiken Battodo on the ASUA site



Tameshigiri.com - where we get goza. The ordering and shipping process are given.



Hanwei/Paul Chen swords



The Knighthawk Armoury builds some interesting realistic looking goshinken. They're expensive but they claim to be pretty durable (not yet tested by us).



Folding a Hakama the proper way



Woodall's Custom Workshop makes nice cutting stands for tameshigiri.


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