Nito Ryu (“two swords school”) is a term used for Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, the Kenjutsu style founded by Musashi Miyamoto in 17th-century Japan. Musashi felt that holding a sword in two hands restricted the wielder’s movements, limited his defensive and offensive options, and
was impossible on horseback or when carrying a second weapon (such as a spear or bow) for battle.
He developed a style that used the katana in one hand, freeing the other to use the wakizashi (shortsword) simultaneously or to hold another weapon. Although heavily identified with the sword, Musashi also learned to use the jitte (MA p. 217) from his family’s martial-arts training, and modern schools teach this to advanced students.
Nito Ryu can be very aggressive, attacking with both blades at once or using them alternately to rain down blows. Stylists wield their weapons forcefully, using Committed Attack or even All-Out Attack (Double) to overwhelm their foe. When armed with two swords, they favor Dual-Weapon Attack – often using one blade to feint (or to Beat; see pp. 100-101) and the other to attack. Nito Ryu makes regular use of both weapons to fend off single-weapon attacks (see Cross Parry, MA p. 121), followed by a Counterattack. Overall, it eschews defensive tactics in favor of overpowering the foe.
Musashi was known for his aggressiveness and his disdain for many of the trappings of the samurai. His impressive success record in mortal duels also gave him a reputation for bloodthirstiness. Nito Ryu stylists may choose to duplicate their style founder’s less-praiseworthy traits as well as his skills.