What is a hands-on Samurai/Killer class for foreigners? Invitation to Japanese Martial Arts Culture

Motenas Representative
Motenas Representative
For foreigners, experiencing the Japanese “Samurai” and “Killing Fighter” culture is a fresh adventure.
However, to introduce the profound Japanese traditional culture, even Japanese people find it a little difficult.

We should have the knowledge to help foreigners understand and enjoy Samurai and sword fighting more deeply.

This article also introduces the details and cautions of the Samurai/killer experience for foreign visitors, as well as its charm and background.
We will explain what kind of foreigners will appreciate it, reference movies, and the style of the killings and what to look out for.

Why Samurai and Killing Fighter Experiences are Popular with Foreigners

Japanese martial arts culture seems mysterious and fascinating to foreigners.
This can be felt from the fact that the word “samurai” is known as if it were a universal language.

Many films featuring Japanese samurai have made their way overseas, with Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” once being voted “the number one best foreign language film of all time” by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Thus, the essence of samurai and sword fighting is popular among foreigners because it appears in movies and is seen as an unusual and fresh culture.

The spirit of the samurai, beautiful martial arts techniques, and sometimes acrobatic professional sword fighting shown in the film.
The existence of “samurai” is an unknown culture to many foreigners, but it can also be an object of admiration.

Samurai and sword fighting experience in Japan is a great opportunity to experience such an extraordinary culture and to feel the depth of martial arts.

What is the reaction of foreigners to Samurai and killing?

Opportunities to experience Japanese martial arts culture are rare, even for Japanese people.
Even as a Japanese, you will still be impressed and feel fresh when you witness professional killings.

For foreigners who are unfamiliar with Japanese culture, the samurai and sword fighting experience can be very exciting and enjoyable.

The samurai and sword fighting experience will begin with a demonstration by the instructor, which will draw attention to the sophisticated movements of the samurai.
Also, since the event is actually performed dressed as a samurai, just wearing a samurai-style kimono should be interesting and fresh for foreigners.
Surely your first time in Samurai style will be full of elements that you will want to photograph and share on social networking sites as a memory of your trip.

And although the politeness, traditional rules, and technical fineness of martial arts can be difficult in some areas, such sensitive Japanese culture can also be an interesting experience.

What foreigners want to see is the coolness of Samurai and powerful sword fighting.

The point of the Samurai/Killer Experience is to experience the cool poses and powerful killings of the samurai as seen in the movies.

Of course, the Japanese manner of getting there is also interesting.
Samurai/killer experiences often include lectures on the etiquette of wearing a kimono, its historical background, and how to walk in it.

The best part, however, is when you get to take part in the action of a samurai like the ones in the movies.
Killing is also a type of acting, so “acting beautifully” can be a fun part of the experience.

If you are a foreigner who does not have much of an image of Japanese samurai or sword fighting, you may want to watch a movie beforehand to get an idea of how you would like to perform such movements. If you are not familiar with Japanese samurai or sword fighting, you may want to watch a movie beforehand to get a clearer picture of what it is like.

What kind of foreigners would appreciate a samurai/killer experience?

Samurai and sword fighting experience is especially recommended for foreigners who are interested in martial arts and Japanese traditions.
It is an experience that will be greatly appreciated by active people who are curious about Japanese culture, who like Japanese samurai movies, and who are interested in the martial arts.

On the other hand, those who have never seen Japanese movies or who are not familiar with the image of samurai may feel some resistance.

But basically, in the hands-on class, we will explain the rudimentary aspects of samurai culture, how to wear a kimono, and how to behave.
Therefore, even those who do not have a clear image of “Samurai/Killer” will have a meaningful time as an unknown cultural experience.

Even if you were not interested in Samurai, a photo of yourself wearing a kimono and posing with a sword will be a fun, Instagrammable memory.

What kind of foreign customers are especially recommended to experience Samurai and sword fighting?

If the following factors apply to the foreigner you are inviting, he/she is likely to be interested in the samurai/killer experience.

  • I like Japanese Samurai movies.
  • Active with a love of martial arts and physical activity
  • Highly interested in traditional Japanese culture and eager to learn
  • I want to take Instagram-worthy photos.
  • I have already experienced common tourist attractions and want to do something unusual.

Those who have always loved Japanese movies or are interested in traditional Japanese culture will also be pleased with the samurai and sword fighting experience.
Even if not, many affluent foreign tourists say they are tired of seeing common shopping spots and tourist attractions.

For such people, it will be a fresh cultural experience that will remain in their memories.

Is there an age limit for the samurai/killer experience?

The age limit for the samurai/killer experience depends on the class, but most are basically open to children.
Generally, foreigners of all ages participate in the program, and it is suitable for both children and seniors.

In movies and photographs, killing scenes are filmed with imitation or aluminum swords that look like the real thing.
However, the experience does not mean that you will be fighting with such a realistic sword.
Imitation swords are actually highly dangerous, even for professionals, and are used only for close cuts, not for standing around.

In the Samurai and cultural experience for foreigners, dangerous standing around is naturally not performed.
Some classes offer the experience of cutting vegetables with an iaido sword, but if you have children, you may want to have it omitted or otherwise arranged.
If children are to participate, the instructor will also take safety into consideration.

What is Killing in the First Place? From basic knowledge to style

Killing is a choreographic technique used in Japanese period drama and performing arts.
It is also called enjin, gito, gito, and gito-togeto, and as a “killing line,” it originated in 1921 when it was used in a performance by Shojiro Sawada, the head of the Shinkokugeki Theater.
Killing rings represent a form of martial arts by the samurai, but they are not intended for actual fighting.
It was developed as a performance method for actors and martial artists to perform safe and powerful combat in order to look good on stage.

The purpose of the killing techniques is not to imitate realistic fighting, but to give the audience a sense of realism and emotion through subtle and dramatic movements.

What is the difference between a samurai and a warrior?

Strictly speaking, the meanings of “samurai” and “samurai” are different, although even Japanese people tend to confuse the two.
A samurai was a person of high rank who served a nobleman.

However, for foreigners, the word “samurai” is particularly well known, so it is easier to explain it as a samurai experience.

Killing Basics

The following basic elements are important in the killings

1. movement and facial expression

In the killing techniques, students learn to use a variety of weapons and tactics, including swords, and even battle moves and facial expressions.
In the sword fighting scenes in period dramas, you may feel that the actors are very conscious of their facial expressions, detailed gestures, and even their line of sight, not to mention their sword fighting skills.

Samurai actually had a unique way of walking called “namba-walking,” which allowed them to move whenever they were attacked by enemies.
Such detailed movements peculiar to the Samurai are also the basis of the killing style.

2. how to use weapons

Killing may be done with bare hands, but the focus is especially on the use of various weapons.
It is a difficult part of sword fighting that one must master different choreography and techniques for each weapon, such as sword, spear, and stick fighting, and perform them with great skill.

Even for a single sword, there are rules for each and every gesture, such as how to hold it, how to draw it, and how to hold it, etc., to make it look beautiful.
The trained use of weapons is important to evoke the spirit of the samurai and the oriental mystique.

3. ensuring safety

Killing is never really a skill to hurt and defeat an opponent.
Safety is also important as well as a true-to-life performance.

Falls and blows are devised so as not to cause actual damage to the opponent, and the emphasis is on beautiful expression without injury to each other.

Swords used in killing

There are actually many different types of swords used in killing.
But of course, we never use a real sword.

The most representative of these swords are the following

1. imitation sword

Also called iaito or “art sword,” it is a beautiful sword that looks just like the real thing.
However, it is heavy and highly dangerous, so it is not used in a standing position.
It is used only when posing for a close-up cut in a photo shoot or even in a video.

2. Aluminum sword (Jura sword)

Similar to a imitation sword, this sword looks similar to the real thing, but is lighter.
Like imitation swords, they are basically not used much for standing around, but for posing for photographs and other purposes.

3. Takeko

It is made of a very light material and is often actually used in movies and stage stands.
They are relatively less dangerous than imitation or aluminum swords.

However, it has a fake look when seen up close, so it is not suitable for close-up shots.
Acting is also important, including the use of the body to make it look authentic.

4. Rubber sword

This lightweight sword was used in the movie “Rurouni Kenshin” and other movies.
It is softer than takemitsu and is considered safer and less damaging when it hits the body.
Because they are relatively easy to care for, they have been used frequently in videos in recent years.

Is there a school of killing?

For foreigners who are interested in Japanese culture, it will be interesting to see if there is a difference in the style of the killings? It will be interesting to see if this is the case.
Just as there are different schools of flower arrangement, I have the impression that there are many different schools of traditional Japanese culture.

Like many martial arts, there are many different schools of swordsmanship.
However, since killing is not strictly a martial art, it is believed that there is no school of killing itself.

If people are aware, it is the school of swordsmanship, and they may be aware of the school depending on the background of the historical drama in which they are performing.
Even in a killing arts class, if the instructor is fond of swordsmanship, it is conceivable that he or she could be influenced by that school.

However, there is no strict division of schools in the art of killing.

While it may be rare for foreigners to be asked to explain so much in their cultural experience, it is helpful to know such background as trivia.

Foreign films for reference for killing

The people who provide the sword fighting and samurai experience are not necessarily accustomed to watching period dramas on a regular basis.
Some foreign tourists from overseas are fans of Japanese period dramas and movies about samurai.

We will keep in mind popular samurai movies in foreign countries because such people are the ones who are interested in Samurai and sword fighting experience.
I want to dress like a character in that movie.”
I want to take a picture of you posing like in that scene.”
If you can fulfill such a request, you will be very pleased.

1. “Seven Samurai

A film by master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa depicting the spirit of the samurai and bushido in Japan.
The beauty and severity of the martial arts can be felt.
Even if you are not familiar with Japanese period dramas, you probably know the name of this film as it has been featured in the media for a long time.

2. “Rurouni Kenshin

This action film set in Meiji-era Japan was adapted into a live-action version due to the popularity of the anime.
Since the film is relatively new, many younger people may have seen it.

It is also known abroad as Rurouni Kenshin.
Starring Takeru Sato, the film’s modern, action-packed visuals are familiar even to foreign audiences.

3. “The Last Samurai

Although not a Japanese period drama, this film became a topic of conversation because of its American director’s depiction of Japan immediately after the Meiji Restoration.
Many of you may know them because they are well recognized by people overseas.
The Japanese actor is Ken Watanabe, and the subject of the film is Japanese Bushido.

Notes on Samurai and Killing Experience

There are a few things to keep in mind when participating in a samurai/killer experience.
Foreigners in particular may feel uneasy about the martial arts experience itself in a foreign country, so it is important to keep these precautions in mind.

1. what to wear and bring

During the experience, you will change into kimono, obi, and other prepared clothing.
However, since you will be moving your body, it is recommended that you choose undergarments and other clothing that are easy to move in and sweat in.

Even without strenuous movement, maintaining an unfamiliar posture can be surprisingly strenuous.
Ideally, drinks and other beverages should be available for immediate rehydration.

2. follow the instructor’s instructions

During the experience, it is important to follow the instructions of an experienced instructor.
It is rare to use such dangerous swords or perform such difficult movements in a foreign human experiment.
However, if you do not follow the instructor’s instructions, you could be unexpectedly injured, so please make sure you follow the procedure properly.

(3) Communicate with others

For foreigners, it may seem austere to learn the movements of a sword fight in a kimono they are not accustomed to.
It is also easy to become nervous that you must not fail.

However, since the program is intended to be a fun cultural experience, it is important that participants enjoy themselves with the instructor and with other foreigners.
It is also helpful to be aware of creating an atmosphere of relaxation and enjoyment, and a flow that makes it easy to ask questions.

Recommended places to visit after the samurai/killer experience

After the samurai/killer experience, why not take a sightseeing tour to interesting spots where you can further experience samurai culture?

1. Sword Museum

The Sword Museum, located in Sumida-ku, Tokyo, is a museum that exhibits Japanese swords as an art and craft.
You can also see the garden of a daimyo’s mansion and feel the ancient samurai culture of Japan.

Some of the swords are national treasures, making this a valuable experience for those who want to see real swords.

2. Traditional samurai residences

Traditional samurai residences are also recommended, offering a glimpse into the life of the samurai.
This is a great opportunity to experience the samurai culture, which is rarely seen up close even in Japan.

Samurai residences that are open to the public can be found throughout Japan, the most famous of which is Kakunodate Buke Yashiki Street in Akita Prefecture.
This is a main street lined with samurai residences, and the traditional thatched roofs can be seen here, making it a special place with an air of elegance.

3. Samurai Restaurant

Slightly different from traditional cultural experiences, but enjoyable as entertainment is the “Samurai Restaurant” in Kabukicho, Shinjuku.
The restaurant, which previously attracted attention as a “robot restaurant,” has been redesigned as a “samurai restaurant.

Visitors can enjoy a spectacularly arranged entertainment show that traces Japanese culture, such as ogres and samurai.
Those who like the city at night and young foreigners will enjoy it.

Samurai and sword fighting experience gives foreigners deep memories of Japan

The samurai/killer experience is an opportunity for foreigners to have a realistic experience of “the powerful appearance of samurai as seen in movies”.
This is a deep Japanese cultural experience that is different from mere sightseeing and will be a memorable time for you.

Please be aware of the precautions and points to please, and provide the best cultural experience possible.