Kobudo Stick Styles
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NINJUTSU: There are more myths and legends about the ninja than actual facts. Their predecessors are recorded in “Art of war” book written by Master Sun Tzu from China between 4th and 6th century B.C. In Japanese version we can read about: Inkan – local agent, Naikan – internal agent, Jukan – friendly agent, Shikan -agent of death and Shokan – agent of live.
According the Japanese tradition, concept of war espionage was introduced by Kibi Makibi (693-775) who twice visited China as a diplomat. In Shoku Nihon-gi (747) are some text translated from Art of war.
Anyway it is interesting that in Kojiki which is considered as first Japanese book (714), Annals of ancient records is mention that Prince Yamato (son of Empress Keiko) disguised himself as a professional female entertainer (Geisha) and killed two rival warlord brothers.
In other Japanese legend is written that demon Oejama (Shutendoji) was killed by general Raiko, who is historical Yorimitsu Minamoto (994-1021). He was dressed as Yamabushi with four others and attacked Shutendoji while sleeping.
However beside legends the ninja activities are described in gunki monogatari, samurai war stories of 11th and 12th centuries.
In first gunkimono called Shomonki is writen how Taira Yoshikane hired a spy Naikan to kill rebellious Masakada. In the largest gunkimono called Heike monogatari which is about Gempei war (between Taira and Minamoto clans) is recorded how the ninja tactics were utilized in battle.
One of myth is also that the famous general Minamoto Yoshitsune (1154-1189) was learned swordsmanship, arts of stealth and invisibility from Tengu (mountain goblins). Believed to be half-man half-crow and good friends of the ascetic-mountain priests. Yoshitsune left hi post (1185-1189) and his brother Yoritomo became Shogun in 1192. Yoshitsune was tailed to be killed by brother and accompanied with priest huge Benkei (Yamabushi), Ise Saburo (most probably ninja) and three others loyal Bushi he escaped through Yoshino Mountain to north province of Japan. Here he later submitted seppuku when was attacked when fight against big superior force. There is another legend that in battle in Koromogawa 1189 he not died but he escaped to Mongolia and became a famous Genghis khan …Reality is that both names are written same in Chinese.
Ninjutsu came from more different sources. As we see master less samurai (Ronin) and employed samurai (Bushi) utilized different tactics when they couldn’t get revenge or win through normal way. Others were warrior priests (Sohei) and ascetic mountain priest (Yamabushi). It is important to know deference between them. Yamabushi were a member of religious sect Shugendo (mix of Buddhism and Shinto). They were practicing Chinese mystical and magical methods, long pilgrimage in mountain, sitting under waterfalls etc. to be enlightened. Because of their dress to easy hidden weapons, ninja often used to be disguised as Yamabushi. Sohei were others, formatting a private army to protect the Buddhist centre in Nara and Kyoto.
Peasants also adopted this method in order to defend their families from brigands and marauding samurai. Under the laws of the feudal Japan, samurai were only allowed to train in the martial arts and to defend themselves against the sword. Very often these noble warriors committed “tsujigiri” what means testing of sword on innocent living beings. Immunity allowed Tokaguwa era samurai legally cut down any disrespectful member of a lower social class (farmer, craftsmen, merchant etc.).
Most of these barbaric techniques had been used in warfare and daily life as well for centuries. Ninjutsu was originally developed as an effective self defense against the ideology of the ruling or rival samurai clans. In the principle warrior against warrior, not against an innocent being we can understand also a very high spiritual development of it (see Kikotsu). The regional lords knew of the effectiveness of the Ninjutsu started employing them as guerrilla fighters. Many of rival lords had been assassinated by this way. Ninja served both, Emperors and Shoguns. When peace came to Japan, Ninja were no longer necessary.
One of the last authentic ninja was Seiko Fujita (1899-1966), 14th head of Koga ryu ninjutsu, Koga province and Iga part of Isa (Mie prefecture today) are historically known as source of many ninja who played a big role in history of Japan. Ninjutsu is really an art and among combative techniques as Tai jutsu and Bu jutsu includes:
|Chi mon â€“ geography||Inton jutsu â€“ escaping and concealment|
|Sui ren â€“ water techniques||Henso jutsu -disguise and impersonation|
|Cho ho â€“ espionage||Kyaku jutsu â€“ fire and explosive|
|Ten mon â€“ meteorology||Shinobi iri â€“ stealth and entering|
|Bo ryaku â€“ strategy||Seishin Teki kyoho – spiritual refinement|
In Bu jutsu they developed a sticks style as well. Beside Hanbo and Bo we register Chigiriki, which appears as staff that is three or four feet long with a weighted chain of about equal length fastened to one end. It was a practical weapon for far distance duel. Weighted chain had been swung toward opponent to tide and reduce his mobility. This maneuver had advantage against skilled swordsman. In close distance stick was used to defeat the enemy. Arakagi ryu (Minamoto Hidetsuna is a founder of ryu) and Kukishinden ryu are famous of it used. In the same principle Kusarigama was used. Base of this art is in Gokkyo ryu, where Hachiryu Nyudo, invented a weapon known as Kyoketsu-shoge (knife connected to an iron ring by a long rope). Probably over the time rope was replaced with a chain and the knife with a sickle.
KUKISHIN RYU: The Gempei war end in 1185 by Minamoto clan defeated Taira. In 1274 and 1281 Mongols attacked but couldn’t defeat Japanese because of sea storm – typhoon (kamikaze). Second and third Shogun of Minamoto clan was assassinated and emperor Go-Daigo (1288-1338) was fighting against Bakufu – Shogunate. He had ascended the throne in 1318 and started to concentrate the power which remained to the imperial house in his own hand.
One of his supporter was Kusunoki Masashige (1294-1336) a samurai commander. He became famous by using an unconventional tactics and ninja method. Go-Daigo began achieve his plan in 1321 when he persuaded his father to step down from the position of cloistered emperor. In 1331 Go-Daigo and his supporters were successfully attacked by Hojo family. Go-Daigo left for exile to the Oki Islands but he returned to the mainland and recovered the throne in 1333 when Hojo had been destroyed (in Kamakura).
However in 1336 another family, the Ashikaga became the strongest military element of the country. Ashikaga Takauji (1304-1358) later appointed as shogun by Northern Court in Kyoto, attacked the emperor Go-Daigo forces. He occupied the capital and imprisoned the ruler. Go-Daigo refused to come to terms with Takauji fled into the mountains of Yoshino south of the capital. He set up a government in exile later known as Southern Court.
In December of 21st 1336 Yakushimaro Kurando Takamasa defeated Satake Kaja Goromaru while helping emperor Go-Daigo. He fought as nine demons. Yakushimaroâ€™s naginata was cut by Satakeâ€™s tachi. By remaining piece in length of Hanbo – three feet size he killed his opponent and escaped by using a special Kuji Kiri (Ku-Ki) technique. For this effort, Yakushimaru was given the family name â€œKukiâ€ from Go-Daigo. It is the establishing of Kuki-shin ryu.
Now is getting be an interesting, Yakushimaro was fighting as nine demonsâ€¦ There is a Ninjutsu school called Kukishinden ryu Happo Hikenjutsu, in translation called Tradition of nine demon Gods. Anyway, he escaped by Kuji Kiriâ€¦a technique used by ninja to channeling internal energy by hypnotic movement of the fingers to confuse their opponent (mudra-s in Sanskrit). Other translation means nine signs, or lines slashes (five horizontal and four vertical, created by fingers). And one more translation is protective grid slashing. It is known that ninja practiced Kuji Kiri also as the set of fingers and hand movements to directing or flowing energy to specific points or region of the body to heal a wound.
In May of 4th 1575 Kukishin ryu expert Inaba Kaja Yoshitame defeated Suzuki Tangonokami Katsuhisa , who cut his Rokushaku Bo to two piece â€“ Hanbo size… Kukishin ryu fighter Ohkuni Taro Takehide using a spear fought against Yashiro Ujisato who cut by tachi his spear. By remaining piece in length of Sanjaku Bo â€“ Hanbo, Ohkuni defeated Yashiro and cut his neck by short sword…There are also some older stories using a Sanjaku â€“ three feet long sticks from area of Emperor Takeru in 38 AD.
Nowadays nobody can say where the three feet stick techniques were explored. The staff has been used as a weapon across the world since beginning of human history. It was very popular in different social groups, as between warriors, herdsmen, monks, travelers etc. It is the most common kind of weapon and worldwide are reports of using it. Anyway, Kukishin ryu it is the tradition from Yakushimaru and Ohkuni families. It has three divisions: Hanbo jutsu, Jo jutsu and Bo jutsu. Hanbo jutsu also includes techniques by Tessen â€“ war fan. In length of 1 foot it is limited in range, but truly ferocious weapon. These techniques were adapted by Daito ryu Aikiju jutsu as well.
Length of Hanbo is three feet, almost same as sword â€“ Ken. Therefore many techniques of use are very similar and it has deep relationship with Ken jutsu. Beside hard form – techniques which we call Katai as striking, weeping and thrusting, there are many of Ju â€“ soft techniques. These are grappling, locking and transporting. History reports that monks were skillful stick fighters using a different length of staff as effective weapon that did not necessarily involve the death of an enemy, as it was against their Buddhist concept. Jo is four feet staff and there are two main different sources of it origins. One is that it was established from Hanbo jutsu and Bo jutsu (taught by a Kumano area Gyoja, mountain priests). Other is that Katori Shinto ryu and Kashima Jikishinkage ryu, Bu jutsu master Muso Gonosuke invented this weapon to fight against Miyamoto Musashi â€“ greatest swordsman in history of Japan.
KUKISHINDEN RYU: Kumano province located along Japanâ€™s cost was the base where seamen fought against pirates by many weapons not seen in other Ninjutsu schools. It was such as naval martial art (movements are designed to be used on a ship that is slippery and rocking) which become a part of Kukishinden ryu Happo Hikenjutsu founded by Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru in 1180 AD. This school called Tradition of nine demon Gods. Kukishinden was originally called Nakatomi (Ohnakatomi) Shinden.
It is one of the oldest families protecting the Imperial clan of Japan. Here is important to understand that Ninjutsu was developed as an effective self-defense which was against the ideology of the ruling samurai clans and aggressor as example pirates, bandits. Techniques were used always in principle warrior against warrior, mainly against sword attack. Some were Ronin, Yamabushi, peasant, maybe fishermen but also Bushi â€“ employed samurai. There is a story that Izumo Kanja was also a samurai, who lost a major battle and was forced into seclusion somewhere around Iga Mountain. He was said to have learned Chinese Kempo. Probably this is one of the reasons that we can see historical record says, this art came from China and lands beyond it.
There were used many of bladed weapons, but also Toami â€“ fishermanâ€™s net and Kaginawa â€“ grappling hook used for capturing ships. Origin of Kusarigama has two sources. One is that it was developed from Kanigawa (hook and rope), other is Kyoketsu shoge â€“ knife connected to an iron ring by a long rope. Over period of time rope was replaced by chain and knife by sickle. Kukishinden ryu become a part of Bujinkan, which has three Ninjutsu schools and six Koryu, ancient way martial styles.
SHINDO MUSO RYU JO JUTSU: Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi (known as Hirano Gonbei in his young age) was the 7.th Generational headmaster of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto ryu. During Keicho period in 1606 June hi traveled to Edo where he had numerous fencing contests and lost only one in fight against Miyamoto Musashi, greatest swordsman in history of Japan. Gonosuke was armed by wooden sword â€“ bokuto, while Musashi had a willow bow, but he immediately took up a stick to confront him.
Musashi won this duel and Gonosuke left to shrine on Mount Honan in Chikuzen. Passing 37 days of meditation and Shinto rites practice he had a dream which inspired him to create a new weapon. In second duel in Himeji using a Jo he won. This is the beginning of Shindo Muso Ryu Jojutsu â€“ Divine Dream Revealed Staff Style. Later he became a martial art teacher to the Kuroda clan of Fukuoka castle which was build by Kuroda Nagamasa. He was a daimyo supporting Togukawa Ieyasu (1600 AD).
Castle was located between Tengai Mountain (south) and Hakata Bay (north), Nakagaka River (east) and Hiigawa River (west). Area east called Haruyoshi, west called Jigyo. Here are foot-soldiers, Ashigaru and Kashi, non commissioned officers (Kuroda clan) resided thus protected the castle from east and west. Shindo Muso ryu Jojutsu was handed down mainly in these two areas. Art became well recognized on Kyushu and by time several other styles were added to it as Hojo jutsu (rope binding), Jutte jutsu (Modified truncheon), Ken jutsu (Sword, Shinto ryu ), Kusarigama jutsu (Sickle with chain) and Tanjo jutsu (Half Jo or walking stick).
Historical record about Gonosuke is poor. His social status, income, date of birth and death is unknown. Anyway, according his four feet long sword which Muso donated to Tsukuba shrine on Mt. Tsukuba we can guess that he was a toll and strong man. Mountain Tsukuba was a center of esoteric Buddhist rituals and austerities that time. This is a reason why in Shindo Muso ryu Jojutsu we can notice stronger influence of Buddhismâ€™s as of Shintoâ€™s.
Different sources describe different length of the Jo. To understand it, at ancient time and even in middle age people used measurements as they fit into their everyday lives. Means, tools and weapons had a specific anatomical shape and size, depend on their user. Categorization in general appeared only, when crafts and arts started to be spread. Historical records of Jo length are different. Example: four foot, five foot and even 3 shaku 9 tsun, which is something more as three foot â€“ 118,2 cm. However it is also mentioned that one could safely hold it between two stretched arms. This grip is used as starting position of hands in many of the techniques. Sword considered it belonged to Muso Gonosuke is 4 shaku 9 tsun 3 bu long â€“ 149, 38 cm. It gives an impression that he was a large man, might be more than 6 foot height. Of course such as man will spread his arms more as for example Morihei Ueshiba who was practicing Jo as well. The other reason as mentioned, it has been able to pass under armpit. Anyway, some people can find that even four foot still long for them.
To write Shindo Muso ryu was originally used a Chinese character in which Shindo means True path. There is other character to be read as Shindo but that means Way of the Gods. Almost 100 years after Muso Gonosuke founds True path Muso ryu, 5th generation instructor of this art Harada Heizo Nobusada added his own concept and established a new branch called New-just Muso ryu. Approximately 70 years after he died art split into Haruyoshi and Jigyo branches. Komori Seibei Michiaki was appointed as Jigyo area teacher, while Ono Kyusaku Tomotoki became an instructor of Haruyoshi area of Fukuoka castle. Beside these three Jo styles appeared two others: Tenâ€™ami ryu and Shin-chigiriki. All five are the traditions of the Kuroda clan and they were known as Kuroda no Jo as well. By time clan adopted Torite (capturing/seizing) and Nawa (rope) arts. Some of the clan members were practicing also Kusarigama jutsu and Jutte jutsu. As firearms gained primacy on the battlefield each clan put effort to gunnery and Kuroda clan also as well. During the Bakumatsu period (c.1850-1867) head of the clan daimyo Kuroda Nagahiro start to reformatted the military structure based on the use of firearms.
From January until December 1902 unified session of both branches were held. Wider popularity of Jo jutsu started when Uchida Ryogoro sensei gave demonstration of art at the Naval Officers club in Tokyo in 1902. Later in 1927 sponsored by Imperial Department Police, Takayama Kiroku and Shimizu Takaji shihan-s had performed together. In 1930 Kobudo-ka from all over the country gathered when First All-Japan Kobudo Taikai was held. Takayama, Shimizu and Otofuji Ichizo shihan demonstrated Jo, Kusarigama and rope techniques. Next day they did another demonstration at the Police University. Since 1931 Kodokan high-ranking judo-ka were instruct to Jo justu. From February 1933 ShimizuTakaji was appointed as Jo jutsu shihan by Metropolitan Police HQ. In 1935 Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai (Society for the promotion of Japanese Classical Martial Arts and Ways) was founded by Matsumoto Manabu. In 1940 Dai Nippon Jodokai was founded. It was at first time that Jo jutsu was called Jodo.You might also like: