A Taryu-jiai

Taryu-jiai was a magical duel between two shugenja.

History Edit

Kakita was the Emerald Champion of Rokugan, and as such was a staunch supporter of iaijutsu duels and their place as a way of deciding matters of honor. Shortly after publication of his treatise "The Sword," he was approached by the Elemental Master Isawa Ujikki. Master Ujikki asked Kakita how shugenja should defend their honor since they were not devotees of the sword. Kakita found himself with no answer. [1]

The Champion and the Master spent much time over the following days in discussion with each other on this topic. After many nights of meditation and many days of discussion, the result of their conversations were published in a scroll entitled "Shugenja Taryu-Jiai." [1]

Shugenja and Duels Edit

Duel of Shugenja

Duel of Shugenja

A shugenja was not typically taught the ways of kenjutsu or iaijutsu, so a shugenja that did not wear a katana could have a champion take his place in a duel and could refuse to fight in a battle. Many shugenja, especially those from the Isawa family, viewed the calling of the shugenja as of more importance than rank or awarded honor, and strove to use their powers only for peace, entering battle only when convinced that more lives would be lost if they did not act.

However, if a shugenja wore the katana, he must be prepared to use it, whether that be in a duel, on a battlefield, or in any other manner demanded of him. Instead, a shugenja might choose to wear only the wakizashi as a symbol of his status as a member of the samurai caste, or the shugenja might choose to wear neither blade, simply letting his scroll satchel reflect his favor with the kami. [2]

Procedures Edit

A taryu-jiai duel functioned nearly identically to an iaijutsu duel, except that elemental magic was used instead of swords. Prior to the duel, the challenger must receive permission from his daimyo, who must then request permission for the duel from the challenged shugenja's lord. Once both daimyo had agreed to the duel, the two contestants faced each other, and either had a chance right then to concede victory , as it was never a loss of face to recognize a superior opponent. [1]

The major difference between duels of bushi and shugenja was that shugenja tended to focus on their opponent's weaknesses less and instead simply showered the other person with raw elemental power. It was a spectacular sight to behold, and in the end, the shugenja who was in the better condition afterward was declared the winner. [1]

It was traditional for a shugenja to carry the family's daisho when challenging another to taryu-jiai. [3]

Avatar Variant Edit

A newer popular variant of taryu-jiai [4] consisted of the duelists creating personal avatars from the raw Elements and pitting them against one another. This prevented any real injury to either party. [5] Chuda maho-tsukai used maho to link an opponent's avatar to his physical being, so that damage inflicted on the avatar was channeled to its controller. [6]

Shadowlands Practice Edit

In the 12th century Shadowlands shugeja of the Lost began to practice this art, and duels to death were the rule and not the exception. [7] They eventually created the post of Onyx Champion, who was selected through mortal Taryu-jiai. [8]

External Links Edit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Way of the Phoenix, pp. 53-54
  2. Way of the Phoenix, p. 23
  3. The Dark Oracle of Fire, Part II, by Shawn Carman
  4. Art of the Duel, p. 90
  5. Art of the Duel, p. 14
  6. Art of the Duel, p. 124
  7. Art of the Duel, p. 26
  8. Champions, by Nancy Sauer

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