The benefits of Sword Training for Empty Hand Exponents of the Martial Arts

The benefits of Sword Training for Empty Hand Exponents of the Martial Arts



I have studied Martial Arts since 1980. During this time I have trained in Karate, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Modern Arnis and Seitei Iaido. I also do work as a defensive tactics instructor teaching empty hand control and restraint, handcuffing, baton, pepper spray and firearms. I began to study Shin Sei Kan Kenjutsu in 2005 as a way to continue my learning in the martial arts. As well as improving my Japanese Sword skills it has also improved my empty hand skills. During my journey I have noticed the following benefits of studying the sword with a suitably qualified teacher.


Magnification of Errors

The greater length of the weapon exposes any small errors in grip or angle and makes it a great tool to improve your empty hand techniques as well as filled hand techniques. The detection of errors in your technique may be even more important if you are training and are geographically remote from your teacher, or if the relationship with your teacher has broken down for any reason, even the death of your teacher. The magnification of these errors, make them easier to see and may enable you to notice and correct the errors yourself. Test cutting is also an excellent tool to highlight problems with your technique.


Greater Reliance on Strategy and Tactics

Because of the more deadly consequences of exchanges involving weapons the weaponry arts have a greater reliance on Strategy and Tactics. While techniques in the martial arts are important, if you are not careful you will learn a lot of techniques, but not know when or where to apply them.

An increased incorporation of Strategy and Tactics into your training will also improve your empty hand arts and assist in keeping you relevant and functional in the martial arts. Application of strategy and tactics to the competitive arena will greatly assist you in becoming a superior coach and competitor.  


Age Appropriate

Weapons training, whilst highly technical and mentally demanding can be done in a vigorous manner or in more controlled manner to suit the physical requirements of the practitioner. This makes the study of weaponry arts a suitable vehicle for aging martial artists to continue to learn and improve without injuring themselves.

Continuing to learn and improve will not only keep your passion for the martial arts alive it will also stop some people looking for excuses to not train or to trade on past achievements and former glories. Learning a new art is also a great way to stay a student and to keep your ego in check.



I intend to continue learning and training in the martial arts as long as my interest and relevance continues. Studying weaponry systems has greatly assisted in my continued learning and helped reduce the wear and tear on my body. Becoming a student again is a terrific way to keep your passion for training and learning in the martial arts alive.

Along the way I have met some terrific people and I have also been reminded to select my teachers based on their attitude and knowledge not on the size of their school or their ego.

My teachers in Shin Sei Kan Kenjutsu from the WA School of Japanese Swordsmanship have been incredibly generous with their time and knowledge and it has been a great pleasure to be a part of their team. I look forward to continuing my training and learning in this highly technical and enjoyable martial art.  


Justin Boylan Sempai     

March 2019