Tennen Rishin Ryū was originally composed by the three arts of kenjutsu, jūjutsu and bōjutsu. However, within the Kondō lineage due to the premature death of Sansuke (nidaime), part of jūjutsu and bōjutsu were lost (even though they were still taught inside other lineages). Meanwhile, the armed part of the jūjutsu curriculum (tsukakudaki, kojirisabaki, sōsha, kogusoku and mutō irimi no kurai) has still been preserved within the kenjutsu curriculum, since these techniques are supposed to be performed with a sword. As we can see in the pictures below both kenjutsu and jūjutsu mokuroku share some techniques. Despite being codified as a comprehensive martial system (sōgō bujutsu), a practitioner of the school was not requested to learn all three arts. One could freely choose the art that suited them the most; thus, possibly allowing kenjutsu to become the predominant form (even considering the historical background at the time), while jūjutsu and bōjutsu were gradually abandoned.

Tennen Rishin Ryu jujutsu makimono
Mutō Irimi no Kurai is included both in the kenjutsu Menkyo and in the jūjutsu Mokuroku

tennen rishin ryu makimono

Today, the kenjutsu curriculum is conserved and practiced within the Bujutsu Hozonkai, practically unaltered since its foundation. The four levels (the grading system of the school) are: Kirigami, Mokuroku, Chūgokui Mokuroku and Menkyo. As mentioned previously, each level additionally contains jūjutsu techniques, with a final ratio of 7:3. With the exception of Kirigami, where practice via a bokutō is fundamental, the rest of the kenjutsu techniques are meant to be performed with a bōgu and a shinai, as Tennen Rishin Ryū is a gekiken tradition. In order to give one an idea of what the school’s structure looks like, the makimono of each level have been listed below.

Tennen Rishin Ryu kenjutsu kirigami
Tennen Rishin Ryu kenjutsu mokuroku
Tennen Rishin Ryu chugokui mokuroku
Chūgokui Mokuroku
Tennen Rishin Ryu menkyo

Generally speaking, a period between six and ten years of training was required to reach the level of Menkyo. After receiving the final license, it was necessary for an expert practitioner who was willing to open his own school to have trained for several more years until he was granted the certificate of Inka (transmission). However, no techniques are taught at this level; as intended by Tennen Rishin Ryū, the Inka is a digression in regards to the way of the sword.

Tennen Rishin Ryu inka
The scroll of Inka, the last teaching of Tennen Rishin Ryū. The incipit says: “One day I learnt the art of the sword and challenged myself in a duel…”