Canton Repository Spotlights Walsh Class on Ancient Japanese Swordsmanship


School News

Classical Japanese Swordsmanship Class Provides Cultural Exchange Opportunity

Walsh University is offering a 10-week course in classical Japanese swordsmanship, Toyama Ryu Kenjutsu, led by the highest licensed classical weaponry instructor in North America, John Viol.

Canton Repository, Febuary 20:Walsh Students Learn Ancient Japanese Swordsmanship 

This training course in authentic Classical Japanese swordsmanship was designed as a cultural exchange opportunity and a community service project by Walsh Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Michael Dunphy, a veteran of the classical martial arts/sciences. The program will devote considerable energy to martial training and education and will provide its 40 participants an opportunity to experience the culture, mindset, etiquette, character and skills taught to classical Samurai warriors in a modern setting. In addition, there will be an introduction to the Japanese language and customs related to the martial realm.

"Swordsmanship is one of the core cultural aspects in Japan. It goes back many centuries and has its roots in Samurai heritage," said Dr. Dunphy. "Swordsmanship is truly a core martial science, but it also has a very strong philosophical/cultural component focused on etiquette, service to others, optimizing awareness, respect and honor."

The first class was held on Sunday, February 19 and featured not only John Viol, Sensei, but also the senior instructors and staff of the Shinbukan who train with Dr. Dunphy. A native of Ohio, Viol Sensei is now living in Michigan, and spent more than 20 years living in Japan, studying and training full-time in classical martial sciences. He will lead the first session in the classical manner, dressed in hakama with a buki obi (weaponry belt) and training uniform appropriate for swordsmanship. This class will be conducted exactly as all first day sessions have been done for centuries for classical warrior training in Japan. This program is sanctioned by Martial Sciences International (MSI), the world authority in classical martial sciences.

"One aspect of Walsh’s mission is to develop leaders in service to others. The core value system that is built into swordsmanship is all about training people to be of service. In the context of the sword itself, while it is a tool for protection, it is also a symbol of the highest level of training and personal development that you can achieve," said Dr. Dunphy. "Swordsmanship obviously has a strong cultural aspect to it as well, which is a natural fit to Walsh’s goal to promote international awareness."

Each student will receive a bokuto (wooden sword) for training and will have the opportunity to earn the right to wear an obi (belt) which secures the sword at one’s side for deployment as needed. At the end of the 10-week period, students will be eligible to be assessed for the first level of certification in classical Kenjutsu. Members of the Greater Stark County community are encouraged to attend and participate. For more information, please contact Dr. Mike Dunphy at