Combative Swimming In The Open Water

Combative Swimming In The Open Water

When Jordan Waxman and Gilles Chalandon were reported to have been attacked on their way to an 8-hour English Channel training swim, it called to mind the ancient Japanese martial art of suijutsu (or suiei-jutsu) (水術 in Japanese) – or combative swimming. – which is still taught by Iwasaki Hisashi-sensei, Soke (Headmaster) of Kobori Ryu suiei-jutsu in Kyoto.

Swimming was often part of a Japanese samurai‘s training.

In a country surrounded by the ocean and dotted with lakes and rivers flowing from mountain ranges and volcanoes, it was natural for the samurai to be able to handle himself well in the water. Swimming and combat skills in the water were combined and elevated to a high level with some samurai. Depending on their specific topographic area, suijutsu focused on skills ranging from swimming underwater and swimming in fast-moving rapids to fighting one-on-one in the water and using a bow and arrow while partly submerged.

Being an expert in suijutsu enabled a samurai to silently sneak up on an opposing force and to float down a river for a long time while wearing armor, weapons and other gear, sometimes in near freezing water.

Although suijutsu is seldom taught in contemporary Japan, a select few continue the tradition as a means of recreation, maintaining their health and disciplining their minds and bodies.

A Japanese-language video of suijutsu can be seen here:

Copyright © 2010 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones