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Kenshin Ryu is a style of Okinawan kobudo that focuses on the use of the bo staff that is taught as a complementary style to Shito Ryu karate. As a supplementary style, it is known across the Japan, the US and Europe. One of its primary teachers is Akio Minakami.
In theory, Kenshin Ryu was the “peasants’ art”, and consists of several blocks, strikes, thrusts, and evasions. It is generally considered to be an “easy” form to learn and requires less training to become proficient than other kobudo styles such as Yamanni Ryu, which is commonly taught as to the same students as they advance in skill.
It is, however, an effective and powerful style that provides good basics and kihon that are easily absorbed into further kobudo training with other styles. Conversely, training in more fluid styles will bestow the ability to perform Kenshin Ryu at a more advanced level at a faster rate.
As with all styles, there are minor variations in kata and technique from school to school.
Basic posture is a high front stance, right leg forward, with the hips rotated to face forward. The bo is held in three equal portions, with the left hand at the hip and the bo pointing at the opponent’s throat. Forward strikes are either executed from the shoulder or above the head (kendo style), with the bo either being stopped with the left hand at the hip or with the staff tucked into the left armpit.
This is substantially different from most other bo styles as normally the body is turned to the side, presenting a narrow target to the opponent. Direction changes are typically done by dropping the center of gravity while also opening the hips while stepping. Also, in some instances a 270 degree spin is employed that also includes a retreating step, or a simple step/step technique where the feet come together briefly and the body rotates to the desired direction before resuming the desired stance.
Power is developed in most techniques by utilizing the rear leg and minimal hip rotation in combination with upper body torsion. Beginning students typically either use extremity strength only or exaggerate the leg push/hip rotation. This is rectified easily by repetition training and attacking a weighted target to train for timing. There are some thrusts and strikes that generate power from the rotation of the shoulders from a leading to a trailing position – these are most pronounced in Kubo no koan, and typically only performed properly by advanced students.
Most of the strikes are pushed out by the upper body and generally don’t generate much obvious speed due to the short distances traveled. The exception to this is found toward the end of Kubo no koan, which utilizes a long pulling motion to execute a blow to the head – this is similar to Yammani Ryu.
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