Kawabata Terutaka was born in Tokyo in 1940. His interest in Japanese swordsmanship began in his early childhood when his grandfather gave him a sword he had purchased in San Francisco. Throughout his life he has made significant contributions to both the study of Japanese swords and Japanese Swordsmanship.
Kawabata began his swordsmanship training in his early twenties at the Sogo Budo Shobukan, which was founded in 1963 by his father and was under the guidance of Ueno Yasuyuki Genshin (1913-1973) the headmaster of the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu at that time. Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu is a school of swordsmanship which has its origins in Katori and Kashima, dating back to the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States Period).
Kawabata would eventually spread his knowledge of Japanese swordsmanship through the International Martial Arts Congress (Kokusai Budoin) and the International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF) (Kokusai Budo Renmei). Through IMAF, he was sent abroad to Europe and the United States to spread his school of swordsmanship. He served in the successive posts of director and vice-director, and as the sectional chief of the Kobudo division. In 1975, Kawabata taught at the NRC (currently the Nihon Zaidan) dojo in Akasaka. He also trained many students at the ANA Haneda dojo and the Yokohama Municipal Fire Station. He later opened the Seiseikan dojo on the ground floor of the Sankei Indoor Sports Akabane at Akabane Minami, Kita-ku, Tokyo in the early 2000s.
An example of Kawabata’s proficiency as a sword master was demonstrated in 1987 when he appeared on the TBS television program Chikyu Roman Yomigaeru Hiken/ Sengoku Kabutowari. In this program, Kawabata cut a gash measuring 12 cm. (nearly 4 sun) through a steel helmet called oki tenugui gata (a helmet with almost vertical sides and top plates which are extended rearwards) using a sword made by Yoshihara Yoshindo. The helmet-splitting technique had not been performed successfully since Sakakibara Kenkichi, the hanshi of the Choku Shinkage Ryu, demonstrated it before Emperor Meiji in the autumn of 1886, over 100 years before. It was around this time that he also received the Martial Arts Meritorious Award (Budo Korosho), considered the highest honor in the world of martial arts.
Using a sword made by swordsmith Yoshihara Yoshindo (吉原義人), Kawabata cut a gash measuring 12 cm. (nearly 4 sun) through a steel helmet called oki tenugui gata (flat on the top). The helmet-splitting technique had not been performed successfully since Sakakibara Kenkichi (榊原鍵吉), the hanshi of the Jikishinkage Ryu, demonstrated it before Emperor Meiji in the autumn of 1886, over 100 years before.