There are a few characteristics to Musō Shinden-ryū that distinguish it from other schools such as Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū.
The first series. 'Shoden' (初伝) translates to 'beginning-' or 'entry-transmission'. The purpose of the shoden series is to develop basics, understand distance and get the body to move. After completion of the seiteigata and the shoden series, the practitioner will be able to produce a cut in all directions, from standing and from sitting (seiza).
- Ipponme: Shohattō (初発刀) (Initial sword).
- Nipponme: Satō (左刀) (Left sword).
- Sanbonme: Utō (右刀) (Right sword).
- Yonhonme: Ataritō (当刀) (Sword to hit the target).
- Gohonme: Inyōshintai (陰陽進退) (Yin and yang retreat).
- Ropponme: Ryūtō (流刀) (Flowing sword).
- Nanahonme: Juntō (順刀) (Ordered sword).
- Hachihonme: Gyakutō (逆刀) (Reverse sword).
- Kyūhonme: Seichutō (勢中刀) (Biased sword).
- Jūpponme: Korantō (虎乱刀) (Running tiger sword).
- Jūipponme: Inyōshintai kaewaza (陰陽進退替業) (Yin and yang retreat exchange movement).
- Jūnipponme: Battō (抜刀) (Drawn sword).
The second series. 'Chūden' (中伝) translates as 'middle transmission'. All chūden kata are performed from tatehiza.
The third series. 'Okuden' (奥伝) translates as 'inner transmission'.