When doing Kendo (modern sport Kendo) I felt very restricted, there is an etiquette, there are special ideas about what is good and what is not. Kendo has itself very well figured out. So when doing Kendo, I felt no room for exploration. In this practice, in our Dojo, I have room for this exploration. Things like:
Different weapons (types and styles)
Different scenario's that involve hidden weapons, or undrawn weapons
grappling and striking
Exploring these things would be out of the question in most modern Kendo Dojo- for good reason, Kendo has itself figured out. But I like to explore, so I guess that is the main difference between what we are doing and what Kendo is doing.
Some teachers would say the above exemplifies the difference between modern budo and bujutsu.
= one (singular) way
Bujutsu = infinite possibilities
By exploring and playing with the material is how one keeps arts alive. Even kata needs to be explored and experimented with to keep it relevant. Only by trying different ways of doing things can we find out what works and what doesn't work in different situations and contexts.