Category Archives: History and Research

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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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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Bugei Ryûha Daijiten

Bugei Ryûha Daijiten

Probably the resource on the study of koryû bujutsu and the result of years of research on the classical schools by Watatani Kiyoshi and Yamada Tadashi, this book is a must have. First published in 1963 under the title of Bugei Ryûha Jiten, the name was changed during the publishing of several revised editions in the following years. The one I own is dated from the year 1978. It´s a huge and heavy book (970 pages). It´s not entertaining, it tells no story but it´s a great help to look up schools, especially when they are less known. Until now it was very useful, especially in case of the study of the schools from the country side, where no proper information can be found on the internet.

But still: I like it. If you can read Hiragana, you can navigate through the book. It becomes a bit tricky if you want to read all the content, but with a bit of koryû enthusiasm you can get into it pretty well.

Language: Japanese
Pages: 970
Year: 1978 – Hardcover – Slipcase

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