Many kendoka who have not yet mastered Ito kihon are keen to move up to two swords and a quick look at You Tube shows a disproportionate level of interest in what is a clearly minority aspect of Kendo.
Yamamoto sensei was particularly helpful to me in my early days in Japan. As a fluent English speaker, a former Fulbright, Harvard Scholar and a fellow student of Matsumoto Toshio sensei, he took enormous pains to help me understand the historical and philosophical aspects of Kendo. He was a pre-war member of the Tokyo University Kendo bu and a strong campaigner for the reintroduction of Nito. He asked for my support which I gladly gave in publishing some articles in English to help his cause.
Let me make it clear. I have never tried to practice Nito, but as you may have gathered, I have great respect for some of the older generation who did it well.
The theory with Nito is that the seme is applied with the kodachi and the strike is made with the long sword. I was told at the recent European referees seminar that ippon is never given to strikes made with the kodachi as Nito is a “special” form of Kendo. Reading between the lines, this means that it has been included against a great deal of debate and that there have been some necessary trade-offs to warrant its reintroduction.
As I mentioned, I have been privileged to practice with some of the pre-war greats and as in all encounters with great kendo sensei, I was overwhelmed by the strength of their seme. The kodachi was not used to physically trap the opponent’s shinai but to manifest kizeme to destroy the opponents composure.
Of course their are some strong Nito players at the moment. Toda sensei comes to mind immediately. Okamoto-san (I forget his personal name) from Osaka, was an outstanding young Nito player, I hope that he has continued in his path. On the other hand, there are people practicing Nito in a way that I believe, is diminishing kendo.
Incorrect tsubazeriai, using physical force to close in and trap the opponent, overly close maai etc. have all recently been used extensively by Nito players in shiai. This may afford an easy win, but does nothing to build on the achievements of the great Nito players that went before.