Combative Swimming

Combative Swimming

Suijutsu (or Suiei-jutsu) (水術 in Japanese) is the Japanese martial art of combative swimming. Iwasaki Hisashi-sensei, Soke (Headmaster) of Kobori Ryu suiei-jutsu in Kyoto, teaches and preserves this rare form of ancient martial art.

Swimming was often part of a samurai‘s training.

In a country surrounded by the ocean and dotted with lakes and rivers flowing from mountain ranges and volcanos, 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 © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones