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I know that, mechanically, iaijutsu duels are iaijutsu duels. However, it's well documented that Mirumoto are skilled duelists that use a different style from their Kakita rivals. L5R goes into detail about the style for standard iaijutsu (sword sheathed, drawing and striking in one motion), but I am having trouble finding details about the niten dueling style.

Do they start with both swords drawn? Do they draw both swords at once? Do they quick-draw the katana for the initial strike, then draw the wakizashi as it devolves into a skirmish?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Mirumoto samurai do Iajutsu duels the same way as other samurai

Nitten duels are duels of kenjutsu, not Iajutsu, because Nitten style itself is a style of kenjutsu. Iaijutsu duels are (almost) always performed in the way you described, that is the way marked by tradition, and the only type of duel allowed for serious (read: officially sanctioned) duels. Exceptions are quite rare (certain duel in which certain crab used a tetsubo in a Iajutsu duel was a one-time occurrence that will probably never be repeated). So only when the duel is about kenjutsu, or it devolves into a skirmish, then they defer to their unique style.

Officially sanctioned duels in this context means the type of duels used as a mean to resolve blood feuds or any other type of serious dispute in a way sanctioned by law. When initiated for these kinds or reason, Iajutsu is the norm, and proceding in another way (specially is the duel is to death) can make the result of the duel invalid, and make any participants on the due risk legal consecuences. Other types of duels are ok for sport or less serious endeavors, and can also be used to resolve disputes as long as both parts agree and as long as the issue to be resolved is too localized or simply not as important to require official mediation. Also, non-iajutsu duels may be necesary for impromptu duels when for some reasons it is impossible for one of the participants to initiate a proper iajutsu duel. A tipical example is a duel in half of a battle, when one of the duelist has lost or damaged the sheat of his sword.

Note that is no wonder that the traditional/official way of doing Iaijutsu duels favors so much the trademark style of the crane clan. After all, the creator of the style was the first emerald champion and his descendants had a overwhelming influence in the imperial court and in what was considered customary or not since the very beginning of the empire.

Also note that the fabled rivality between the two schools is not as much about dueling prowess and style as it is due the philosophical and conceptual differences between the two styles and the rivality between the founders of those styles, Kakita and Mirumoto.

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+1 for Niten being a style of kenjutsu. Kakita-style iaijutsu alone would be really impractical in a lot of combat situations, as it is designed for dueling. Niten is a lot more flexible and generally useful. –  aherocalledFrog Sep 2 at 16:39

I took a breeze through Way of the Dragon, a supplement from an older edition (and am still doing so if any further edits come along). The only differences I can see are a bit abstract.

First is the training itself: A Mirumoto Bushi is trained to use a katana one-handed which is quite singular in Rokugan with few exceptions such as wielding a tessen to lead troops or for iaijutsu dueling where the off-hand is presumably on the sheathe. Thus, the Niten method with its foci on drawing and wielding with one hand are at somewhat of an advantage in iaijutsu against just about any other bushi save the Kakita.

Second is the pathos: The Kakita, while still plenty spiritual are about the swift drawing and slashing of the blade as one quick and precise motion. Niten commands that the bushi be fluid and ready, so for them the strike comes more as an internal locus than an external one.


Update

While randomly reading the Book of Fire from L5R4 it does in fact state that the wakazashi comes in play with dueling. It then occurred to me that each duelist gets their normal Armor TN (thus the wakazashi for TN purposes at least), as well as the fact that the section on Niten and dueling says that the Mirumoto style is based off of timing and aggression. By knowing how to catch your opponent off guard, you time your best strike whereas the Kakita are about having a strike so swift the opponent cannot defend when it finally happens.

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