The Sword

The Sword

The Sword, Kakita's ken, [1] was the book of philosophy concerning swordsmanship and discipline written by Kakita, the founder of the Kakita family of the Crane Clan and one of the earliest and strongest proponents of iaijutsu, the art of the duel, in the Empire. This treatise also served as the foundation for dueling in Rokugan and included Kakita's thoughts on the theory and technique of kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting. [2] It was written before the First War erupted. [3]

Essential Principle Edit

The essence of Kakita's technique was that an enemy could be defeated with a single strike and that it could only take that single strike to end any conflict. The key to the technique was that of perfection: the strike had to be of perfect form, with perfect speed, and perfect accuracy. Kakita summarized this philosophy with the following: "One man, one sword, one strike." [2] Kakita’s writings were in some ways a deliberate response to another work on swordsmanship, Mirumoto’s "Niten". [4]

The final manuscript of this great work was held in Kakita's Dojo in the Crane lands. [5] [2]

Notable Excerpts Edit

  • “One who is samurai must, before all things, keep in mind that he must die.” [6]
  • “Let the world move, as long as you stand at its center.” [7]
  • “Honor is your sword-keep it untarnished, and it's edge will cut through your enemies as swiftly as the final steel.” [8]
  • “Strengthen the spirit as well as the body, and depths of the soul will become the steel of the blade.” [9]
  • “The secret of swordplay is not the swift defeat, not the prolonged strike and block. A pure stroke will defeat technique.” [10]
  • “Fear can kill the uncertain mind as swiftly as a sword can cut an uncertain foe.” [11]
  • “The sword is the soul. The sword is all. So is there honor in killing from afar? Perhaps, but only if the bow has its own honor, its own spirit that lends grace to the shot.” [12]
  • “Do not fear sanity, for samurai will not risk what they fear to lose. Fear samurai who have lost their minds; they have nothing left to gain.” [13]
  • “Men will lie to you. Your eyes will deceive you. Steel never lies, nor deceives, not hides bitter reality. In the sword, you can find truth.” [14]
  • “If your opponent expects you to stand, move. If he believes you will move, stand very still. Do not allow your enemy to rule your mind: rules his.” [15]
  • “Focus upon your opponent's destiny. Bring it to them on the end of one perfect cut.” [16]
  • “The sword must live within you. The stances are its walk, and the rhythm of the swing the speech of the warrior.” [17]
  • “One does not always need to kill in order to be victorious.” [18]
  • “Men will lie to you. Your eyes will deceive you. Steel never lies, nor deceives, nor hides bitter reality. In the sword, you can find truth.” [19]

From the Introduction Edit

“Some men will tell you of their duels as if they were counting stones on the shore. I cannot do so. I do not know how many duels I have fought, and I cannot tell you how many breaths I have taken. To number them dishonors the brave men who have fallen before the sword, and transforms the instinctual into something contrived. Dueling is a natural art, one which must be practiced before all other things, and one whose reward for perfection is nothing more than life itself. Wielding a sword should be as natural as being alive. The sword must live within you. The stances are its walk, and the rhythm of the swing is the speech of a warrior. Honor is the heart of the duel—the breath and the blood of the sword.” [20]

“The One Strike” excerpt Edit

“This means to strike an opponent with the strike of a single moment; to perform each action so that no second is needed, to strive for perfection in each kata, each duel and each moment. This is the sharpest weapon of the warrior. Complete objectivity, the ‘eye outside of the body,’ allows us to choose our moment. The entire body must be unified with the sword. A single man, a single weapon. They are one. But this is not simply to say that the duelist wields one sword - rather that the duelist is one sword. Thus, perfection of the strike is achieved as naturally as the outward breath. The strike of the body, spirit, and sword - this is the strike which the student must master if he is to become a true Kenshizo, a Swordmaster. If this is mastered, no other strike is needed. The single strike, the One Strike of the attuned weapon, this alone will defeat your opponent.”

“There are those who tell you that your opponent will defeat himself in the moment of the strike. This is not true. The defeat comes for the single imperfection that your opponent will carry within their soul. The perfect spirit, the soul which bears no stain and the sword whose temper is true—this is the essence of the One Strike. Meditate on this until you understand the eye outside the body, until you reach a point of unity with the Sword.” [21]

External Links Edit


  1. Way of the Samurai, p. 6
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Way of the Crane, pp. 29-32
  3. Great Clans, p. 46
  4. Great Clans, p. 47
  5. Kakita's "The Sword" (Honor Bound flavor)
  6. Winter Court: Kyuden Kakita, p. 41
  7. Time of the Void, p. 81
  8. Strength of Purity (Pearl flavor)
  9. Spearmen (Pearl flavor)
  10. A Pure Stroke (Hidden Emperor Scroll 1 flavor)
  11. Doubt (Hidden Emperor, Scroll 2 flavor)
  12. Jade Bow (Gold flavor)
  13. Shiryo no Hotei (Sprit Wars flavor)
  14. Biting Steel (Jade flavor)
  15. Smoke and Mirrors (Dark Journey Home flavor)
  16. Kenshinzen (Diamond flavor)
  17. Gempukku Blade (Honor's Veil flavor)
  18. Drawing First Blood (The New Order flavor)
  19. Book of Fire, p. 25
  20. Book of Air, p. 15
  21. Great Clans, p. 47

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