The Hokushin Ittô-Ryû Hyôhô teaches different fighting methods in order to prepare its kenshi (swordsmen) to succeed in a fight of life and death on the battlefield, as well as in duels. The different methods are kenjutsu, battôjutsu, naginatajutsu and jûjutsu. These methods are taught through kata fixed forms (of movement).
The school stands out against other traditional schools e.g. because within this school shiai and gekkiken are still practiced (most often wearing a kendô bogu, the armor used in modern kendô). This means the school’s students literally fight out friendly “duels” with fixed roles of attacker and defender or without fixed roles and can therefore test and refine the techniques they’ve learned beforehand through doing kata.
Kenjutsu (swordfighting with the bushi’s/samurai’s famous long or short sword) teaches to defeat an opponent with or without yoroi (samurai armour) by strengthening the kenshi’s technique, spirit and strategy. The kenjutsu of the Hokushin Ittô-Ryû, the school’s main part, is first practiced with bokutō (wooden swords), shinai (bamboo swords) and later with shinken (sharp swords).
Battôjutsu is the art of combative sword drawing. It was mainly used for self-defense during a bushi’s daily life and for assassination purposes, rather than for the usage on the battlefield. Its techniques can either be used offensively to strike at an unsuspecting enemy in a premeditated attack, or defensively when attacked while the own sword is still sheathed. The battôjutsu of the Hokushin Ittô-Ryû Hyôhô is taught from the beginning with Shinken, sharp swords. The use of dull metal blades is a quite modern invention.
Naginatajutsu is the art of fighting with a long, European glaive like pole weapon. In addition to the yari (spear), the naginata was the main battlefield weapon for close combat of the samurai. Especially the lighter, shorter naginata which became popular after the unification of Japan in the early 1600s, is often primarily attributed to female warriors.
Jûjutsu is the art of close combat for defeating an armed or unarmed opponent with strikes, throws, joint locks or kicks. It is primarily used for self-defense purposes , if coming too close to an enemy during combat. However these techniques can also be used when being unarmed in hand to hand combat or in grappling.
You can find a slightly more detailed overview of the Hokushin Ittô-Ryû Hyôhô’s curriculum on the homepage of the honbu (headquarter) of this traditional school of martial arts.