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Aizu Kendôshi

Aizu Kendôshi

If you want to study the schools of a particular part of Japan it might seems quite hard, because you have to collect all information of every school, mostly of different sources and sometimes not sufficient enough for your study approach.

During the years, different organizations published books exactly on this topic, providing comprehensive works on the culture, history and techniques of schools of a particular part of Japan. Some of these works cover e.x. the prefectures of Aomori and Gunma or – as the following does – the classical martial arts practiced in Aizu-han. This book has been published in 1967 by the Zen Aizu Kendô Renmei.

The first pages show different densho which had been preserved in Aizu-han including Ittô ryû Mizoguchi-ha, Shinkage ryû, Taishi ryû and Shintô ryû followed by some paintings (one by Miyamoto Musashi) and calligraphy. During the following pages five kata of Ittô ryû Mizoguchi-ha – probably the most famous school of Aizu-han (next to Daitô ryû) – are described, featuring the famous Wada-sensei, who was also one of the leading authorities in the creation of this book.

The book deals with kendô (and bujutsu in general) during the samurai era, the meiji and taisho period as well as the time during World War 2 and the foundation of the Zen Aizu Kendô Renmei and the development of kendô after the war. The part on koryû bujutsu is quite extensive. Besides the five main schools of Aizu-han (Ittô ryû Mizoguchi-ha, Taishi ryû, Shinten ryû, Ankô ryû and Shintô Seibu ryû) other minor schools such as Ten ryû, Shintô ryû, Tôgun ryû or Shinten ryû (different kanji) are described on about 80 pages, including information on the specific history of the school, teachers, techniques, level of certification and its reputation and impact on Aizu-han. The famous Nisshinkan school for military education is also mentioned including information on the educational system, lecture plans, tournaments or the organization of keiko besides the official one held at the Nisshinkan.

Personally I gained a lot due to the descriptions of a less known branch of Katori Shintô ryû. The densho on the first pages are quite intersting too, due to their age and content.

Language: Japanes
Pages: 582
Year of publication: 1967

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Densho: Anazawa ryû Naginatajutsu Tekagami

Anazawa ryû Naginatajutsu Tekagami

During my research I often come across some very nice densho which are preserved by libraries, archives or private collectors. I decided to introduce some of these school specific documents from time to time. The first one will deal with Anazawa ryû Naginatajutsu which had been transmitted in Hachinohe-han in northern Japan.

This particular document has been written by Kitamura Masu. Pity to say that there is no publishing date mentioned. Moreover it seems that the document was still in progress. It looks a bit like a draft, because sometimes parts were marked in black ink and handwritten corrections had been made. Nevertheless it´s an interesting historical document. Just some quick words about Kitamura Masu. He was full-time menkyo kaiden collector. He was born in 1868 into a warrior family of Hachinohe-han. In the age of 16 he learnt Hokushin Ittô ryû Kenjutsu followed by Ôtsubo ryû Bajutsu, Tamiya Seiken ryû Bôjutsu and Shijô ryû Reishiki. He was also licenced in Anazawa ryû Naginatajutsu, Kawasaki ryû Jûjutsu, Kôshû ryû Gungaku, Mizoguchi ryû Iai, Shintô Munen ryû and some others.

This document focuses on Anazawa ryû trasmitted in Hachinohe-han. After a short historical introduction of its founder Anazawa Morihide, the document continues of describing the basics of the school (movement, stance, clothing, reishiki, the receiving of weapons) followed by the basic kamae (Seigan, Hassô, Ôjôdan, Wakigamae, Tachigakure, Ichimonji) and cutting and thrusting points of the enemy. Several pages of kata description follow. The document contains three sets of kata (yari awase,tachi awase and naginata awase). Yari awase (yari against naginata) consists of six kata, tachi awase (tachi agains naginata) of nine kata and naginata awase (naginata against naginata) of one kata. Besides the technical description the author also gives information on kiai and at which point it shall be used. Same as in Katori Shintô ryû, the three kiai of ei, ya and are used in Anazawa ryû Naginatajutsu, too. The last part is called Naginata Kumigata and describes how to do kata when having no partner to practice/demonstrate with.

It´s a bit difficult to find information on Anazawa ryû Naginatajutsu nowadays. As far as I know there are just two remaining schools left and the good thing: One of these traces their roots back to the Anazawa ryû I just described. If time allows I´ll try to start making a translation of the whole document. It´s not that difficult, but there are quite a lot of old kanji (pre WW2) in and it might take a bit more time to get everything done.

Language: Japanese
Pages: 9 (machine written)
Date of publication: unknown

ps: I just got a copy of the Bugei Ryûha Daijiten and the Nihon Kobudô Soran. If you are interested, send me a message.

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Nihon Kobudô Sôran

Nihon Kobudô Sôran

Published in 1989 by the Nihon Kobudô Kyôkai in order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its foundation, this book covers more than 90 schools of koryû bujutsu, devided into schools of jûjutsu and taijutsu, kenjutsu, iaijutsu and battôjutsu, sôjutsu, and bôjutsu, naginatajutsu, karate and okinawa kobudô, kusarigamajutsu, nihon no hôjutsu, kyûjutsu, other kind of martial arts and suijutsu.

Every chapter begins with some general information about the content. The kenjutsu chapter contains also some school trees of the several Ittô ryû lines, such as Ono-ha Ittô ryû, Hokushin Ittô ryû, Nakanishi-ha Ittô ryû and other.

Every school is described in history, technical characteristics, information on weapons, c0ntact information, training schedules, etc. Because of its age, most information might be out of date, but they are still giving an insight into the schools daily life.

Very interesting to me is the fast that the book covers also schools which are no longer member of the Nihon Kobudô Kyôkai or not mentioned on their internet page anymore. Especially interesting were the articles on Komagawa Kaishin ryû, Kôshin ryû Iaitôjutsu, Nagao ryû Taijutsu, Shinjin ryû Kenjutsu and Chokuyûshin ryû Kusarigamajutsu. Some schools are mentioned twice, such as Daitô ryû Aikijûjutsu and Tenjin Shinyô ryû (Tôkyô and Ôsaka). To nearly every school is a photograph attached. Besides the schools the book gives also a general historical overview about the foundation of ryûha during the pre-edo/edo and bakumatsu era. Moreover the way of licensing is also described using several examples such as Shôshô ryû, Takenouchi ryû, Kashima Shintô ryû, Jikishinkage ryû, etc.

Language: Japanese
Pages: 181
Year: 1989

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Suzuka-ke Bunsho Kaisetsu

Suzuka-ke Bunsho Kaisetsu – Explanations of documents by the Suzuka family

Published by the Zen Nihon Kendô Renmei in 2003, this book is the first of a four volume set on the documents which had been preserved within the Suzuka family, the Dai Nippon Butokukai Budô Senmon Gakkô and the ZenKenRen. This volume gives a historical introduction to several koryû, followed by explanations of densho connected to the koryû mentioned. These koryû are:

  • Yagyû Shinkage ryû
  • Jigen ryû
  • Jikishinkage ryû
  • Miwa Muteki ryû
  • Katoda Shinkage ryû
  • Taisha ryû
  • Unkô ryû
  • Musashi ryû
  • Shinkage ryû
  • Jiken ryû
  • Hokushin Itto ryû

Besides those 11 schools, other schools are also mentioned within the documents. One example would be the Yôshin ryû Naginatajutsu: Yôshin ryû Naginata Mokuroku, Yôshin ryû Gomokuroku, Yôshin ryû Menjô, Tantô Kuden and others, which can be found under the name of “Kotoda Bunsho” (records of Kotoda).

On 172 pages, 112 documents will be explained such as Katoda Densho Heihô Hiden, Miwa Muteki ryû Kenjutsu Densho, Kotoda Kadensho, Shinkage ryû Heisho Kudensho, Miyamoto Musashi Shoden – Niten ryû  Heihô Keiko Oboegaki, Jikishinkage ryû Hisho, Shinkage ryû Heihô Mokuroku, etc.

It need to be said that not all densho mentioned in the book are written down in complete. Sometimes the authors take just small parts but give a brief summary of the whole content of the densho.

As far as my research brought up already, the following volumes will deal with documents on both Katori Shintô ryû and Kashima Shintô ryû.

By time the last three remaining volumes will be described here, too.

Language: Japanese
Pages: 172
Year: 2003

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Kinsei Budô Bunken Mokuroku

Kinsei Budô Bunken Mokuroku

Early modern budô bibliography

Published in 1989, this book written by Irie Kôhei is one of the sources I use during my research on koryû bujutsu. So, what makes it so special? Well, it is – as the title suggests – a bibliography. A bibliography on written documents (densho) of koryû, categorized by name with reference to public and university libraries all over Japan, books, magazines and other publications by e.x. cultural authorities – let´s say – in Aomori prefecture. Moreover it provides basic information (if possible) on the date the document was issued and by whom. Where reading the documents name might be difficult without proper knowledge of the Japanese language, the author also provided the reading in the hiragana style. Besides it lists the volumes the document contains, the condition, sometimes information on the content and – what makes it even more easy to identify documents which might be of use – the topic the particular document is dealing with (e.x. kenjutsu, jûjutsu, gunpô, sôjutsu, etc.).

Due to the date of publication some of the documents might already have been moved but as far as my experience goes – and I already used it quite a lot – it is still very accurate and makes research on koryû bujutsu much easier.

Language: Japanese
Pages: 599
Year: 1989 – Hardcover – Slipcase

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Yagyû Shingan ryû Katchû Yawara

Yagyû Shingan ryû Katchû Yawara

Yagyu Shingan ryu

Yagyû Shingan ryû – Katchû Yawara has been written by Shimazû Kenji, one of the leading authorities in classical Japanese martial arts. In this book he describes many different aspects of this particular school, including kihon, beginner´s training, suburi, jûjutsu, several explanations concerning the usage of weapons, katchû no jutsu (fighting in armor), gunnery and further explanations (e.x. the topic of kiai).

The history of this school is quite interesting, due to the fact that during the decades several lines took their way into the modern world, which can still be practiced today. The one taught by Shimazu Kenji traces their lineage back to Takenaga Hayato, a man who founded Yagyû Shingan ryû after the study of several other classical schools, such as Shintô ryû, Toda ryû or Yagyû Shinkage ryû. He was granted the permission to use the name “Yagyû” by Yagyû Munenori after his study and employment at the Yagyû family in Edo.

What makes this book so special is the huge amount of photographs, including several descriptions of the school´s kata which makes it easy to understand, especially when the reader is not proficient in the Japanese language.


Language: Japanese
Pages: 254 pages
Year: 1979

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Hiden Nihon Jûjutsu

Hiden Nihon Jûjutsu

Hiden Nihon Jûjutsu written by Matsuda Ryûchi covers four different styles of jûjutsu: Takenouchi ryû, Yagyû Shingan ryû, Shôshô ryû and Daitô ryû. Each part contains detailed explanations, not just only on the history and the technical aspects of the school but covers also the lineages (with descriptions of each head of the school), the different levels (also with detailed descriptions) and its characteristics. The part about e.x. Yagyû Shingan ryû is dealing with information about the founders (edo-line, sendai-line), the line of teachers, the schools levels, explanations on suburi, atemi, katchû bujutsu, the jûjutsu no bu, heihô no bu, toritejutsu no bu and heijutsu no bu.  The whole part on this school goes about 50 pages. Each of the four schools is also described by many pages containing pictures of techniques, famous persons, densho and weapons. Especially the several densho are of interest, allowing us to grasp an idea of the historical value of those four schools.

Language: Japanese
Pages: 258 pages
Year: 1978

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Hayashizaki Myôjin to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu

Hayashizaki Myôjin to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu

This particular book is a truly masterpiece on Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu, the founder of Shin Musô Hayashizaki ryû (sometimes also called Shinmei Musô ryû) and his connection to the god of Hayashizaki in Murayama, Yamagata prefecture (northern Japan).

Hayashizaki Jinsuke was born in Hayashizaki in what is now the city of Murayama in Yamagata. According to several densho he studied the Kashima Shintô ryû under its founder Tsukahara Bokuden. Kyotos famous Kurama ryû also mentions Hayashi Jinsuke as the second head of the school.

This book deals with the school and his founder from a historical perspective by using several densho which have been preservered within the school, starting from the end of the 17th century. The following two pictures are showing two different densho of the time between 1691 and 1714.

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Jitte – Torinawa no Kenkyû

Jitte – Torinawa no Kenkyû – The study of Jitte and Torinawa

Written by the famous Nawa Yumio and published in 1964, this book features the use of the jitte and torinawa (arresting rope). Besides it also describes several other weapons for arrestings criminals, such as sasumata, tsukubô and sodegarami next to weapons less known like uchikomi, ryûta, kabutowari or chigiriki.

The whole book contains many black/white photos of the weapons and techniques described. The book starts from a historical perspective on arresting tools followed by a more detailed chapter on the tools used during the edo period. Jitte, torinawa and nagemono (throwing tools) are described here. A chapter also features shuriken and the use of the manriki kusari (chain).

This book is very interesting for people who want to learn more about arresting tools and how it is done. The huge amount of photos makes it easy to grasp an idea of what the author was aiming on while writing this book.

Language: Japanese
Pages: 240
Year: 1964 – Hardcover – Slipcase

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