Most of the techniques of the school are studied in a traditional style of Kumitachi in which Kata are performed by a Shikata against an Uchikata (the one undergoing the techniques but yet guiding the Kata).
Most of the time, students make use of a Bokutō (wooden sword), and Uchikata wears thick protective gloves called Onigote.
Some fundamental ideas in Ono-Ha Ittō Ryū (OHIR) are:
- “Ittō” (一刀): one sword;
The supreme philosophy of the school is to defeat the opponent with one stroke, hence the name “Ittō”, which in OHIR should be interpreted as “one stroke” or “one beat (flow)”.
- “Kiri-otoshi” (切り落し):
Kiri-otoshi is both the main technique and idea (philosophy) of the school. In Kiri-otoshi (cut to drop), the idea is to wait for the attack to mature (almost complete), but when appropriate, to cut down along the same line as the enemy’s cut.
The correct execution brings the enemy’s sword out of the centre line and at the same moment (beat, flow) cuts the enemy.
“Ittō soku ban tō” (一刀即万刀) : one sword equals many (lit. ten thousand) swords
In OHIR everything starts from one and ends with one. Techniques are learned one by one correctly so that in a real situation they can be used freely, following the enemy’s movement.
Nevertheless in Kumitachi (when performing the formal paired sword techniques of the school), one starts with Kiri-otoshi but will always go back to Kiri-otoshi.
A detailed explanation of the terms used in OHIR, as well as the names of the waza (techniques) and the names of the Kata can be found in the following article, with special thanks to Mamie Lee from from Reigakudō (the dōjō of Sasamori Sōke in Tōkyō)