Edo Yagyu Shinkage-Ryu is categorized as a "Heiho", which means "warrior system". Within the system are iai, kenjutsu, taijutsu, and miscellaneous weapons techniques. The common thread that holds the system together is the spiritual philosophy contained with the Heiho Kadensho, or "Family Book of Yagyu" written by Yagyu Muneyoshi and Yagyu Munenori.
The foundation of the system is based in iai technique. New students start with the basic Shoden kata, then gradually advance in succession to the Chuden, Okuden, Okugi, and Kuden techniques. Upon entering the Chuden, techniques of kenjutsu are gradually introduced. At the next level, shoto kata may be introduced, followed by more concentrated training in Kenjutsu. For advanced students, variations on the basic concepts are taught, as well as their application using alternative weapons and empty hand. In the end, students should have a library of techniques and concepts from which to draw upon for use in dealing with a variety of situations, martial and otherwise. Throughout the training, important philosophic concepts are presented; these set the stage for personal growth of the student.