Bujinkan Ikari Dōjō Online (武神館奭道場) presents long-sword foundation for kenjutsu, a martial art of the Samurai. Ikari Dōjō (Majestic Hall 奭道場) is affiliated with the Bujinkan organisation (Divine Warrior Temple 武神館). The Bujinkan teaches Budō Taijutsu (Classical Martial Arts of the Way of War 武道體術) and is based in Noda, Japan, and headed by grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi. The Bujinkan teaches nine traditional Japanese martial arts schools including:
Togakure-ryū Ninpō Taijutsu (戸隠流忍法体術) [Hidden Door School]
Gyokko-ryū Kosshijutsu (玉虎流骨指術) [Jade Tiger School]
Kuki Shinden Happō Bikenjutsu (九鬼神伝流八法秘剣術) [Nine Fierce Gods School]
Koto Ryū Koppōjutsu (虎倒流骨法術) [Tiger Felling School]
Shinden Fudo Ryū Dakentaijutsu (神伝不動流打拳体術) [Immovable Heart School]
Takagi Yoshin Ryū Jūtaijutsu (高木揚心流柔体術) [Willow Heart School]
Gikan Ryū Koppōjutsu (義鑑流骨法術) [Virtues Paragon School]
Gyokushin-ryū Ryū Ninpō (玉心流忍法) [Jade Heart School]
Kumogakure Ryū Ninpō (雲隠流忍法) [Hidden Clouds School]
Long-sword foundation for kenjutsu (daitoujutsu shoden 大刀術初伝) is part of the the Bujinkan Unified Fundamental Curriculum (Touitsuteki Kihon Katei 武神館統一的基本課程 [TKK]), which is a general curriculum made up of multiple modules to prepare students for the practice of the nine schools of the Bujinkan. The TKK contains foundational basics for the three general aspects of the Bujinkan; taijutsu, jujutsu and ninjutsu. It also prepares students with specialist modules for further training in preparation for the denshou (transmission 伝承) of the nine schools.
This course is part of a sub-section of the TKK called the Jade Tiger Branch (Gyokkoha 玉虎派) designed to prepare a student for the practice of the Jade Tiger lineage (Gyokko Ryū 玉虎流) of the Bujinkan. Gyokkoha includes 18 modules focusing on developing the techniques, skills and knowledge required for the practice of Gyokko Ryū. The Gyokkoha is split into six general areas, 'vital point striking methods' (kosshijutsu 骨指術), 'long-sword methods' (daitoujutsu 大刀術), 'short-sword methods' (shoutoujutsu 小刀術), 'dagger methods' (tantoujutsu 短刀術), 'blade drawing methods' (battoujutsu 抜刀術), and 'two sword method' (ryoutoujutsu 両刀術). Kosshijutsu are striking and capturing methods focusing on attacking weak and vital points. Daitoujutsu are long-sword methods designed for a double handed blade. Shoutoujutsu are short-sword methods designed for a single handed blade. Tantoujutsu are dagger methods for striking from a concealed position and defending against surprise attacks from a dagger. Battoujutsu are techniques for drawing a blade into a cut or attack, or intercepting a draw to neutralise a drawn attack. Ryoutoujutsu are methods for using two swords at once.
Gyokkoha modules are split into three levels; beginner level (shoden 初伝), intermediate level (chuuden 中伝) and advanced level (jouden 上伝). Shoden modules are designed for solo practice. Chuuden modules involve paired drills and techniques. Jouden modules are practiced by a group of three or more people. The idea of these modules is to develop personally, but also to practice leadership skills to empower others and understand the dynamics of groups and teams.
Gyokkaha Katei (Jade Tiger Curriculum)
Kosshijutsu Shoden (骨指術初伝)
Kosshijutsu Chuuden (骨指術中伝)
Kosshijutsu Jouden (骨指術上伝)
Daitoujutsu Shoden (大刀術初伝)
Daitoujutsu Chuuden (大刀術中伝)
Daitoujutsu Jouden (大刀術上伝)
Shoutoujutsu Shoden (小刀術初伝)
Shoutoujutsu Chuuden (小刀術中伝)
Shoutoujutsu Jouden (小刀術上伝)
Tantoujutsu Shoden (短刀術初伝)
Tantoujutsu Chuuden (短刀術中伝)
Tantoujutsu Jouden (短刀術上伝)
Battoujutsu Shoden (抜刀術初伝)
Battoujutsu Chuuden (抜刀術中伝)
Battoujutsu Jouden (抜刀術上伝)
Ryoutoujutsu Shoden (両刀術初伝)
Ryoutoujutsu Chuuden (両刀術中伝)
Ryoutoujutsu Jouden (両刀術上伝)
Daitoujutsu shoden contains three general areas for the study of the Japanese long-sword and necessary for the more advanced practice of kenjutsu; postures (kamae 構), cutting (kiri 切) and receiving (uke 受). Kamae are structures for the body to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of the long-sword. Kiri are cutting methods in 6 cardinal directions. Uke are receiving techniques for absorbing or redirecting attacks.
Daitoujutsu Shoden Kamae - 大刀術初伝構
Kamae (構) are postures or biomechanical structures of the body for specific use in both unarmed and armed combat. The kamae practiced in Daitoujutsu are derived from the Gyokko Ryu or Jade Tiger School.
[一] Gedan no Kamae - 下段の構 (Low Level Posture): The lead leg is facing forward toward the opponent and the rear leg facing away toward the path of escape or evasion. The sword is held in both hands in front, lead hand on top. The blade is facing down in a low position.
[に] Chuudan no Kamae - 中段の構 (Middle Level Posture): The lead leg is facing forward toward the opponent and the rear leg facing away toward the path of escape or evasion. The sword is held in both hands in front, lead hand on top. The blade is straight forward parallel with the ground.
[三] Seigan no Kamae - 青眼の構 (True Eye Posture): The lead leg is facing forward toward the opponent and the rear leg facing away toward the path of escape or evasion. The sword is held in both hands in front, lead hand on top. The blade is pointing toward the opponent's eyes.
[四] Joudan no Kamae - 上段の構 (High Level Posture): The lead leg is back facing the direction of attack and the rear foot is forward facing the opponent. The sword is held in both hands in front, lead hand on top. The blade is pointing up in a straight line.
[五] Hassou no Kamae - 八相の構 (Eight Aspects Posture): The lead leg is back facing the direction of attack and the rear foot is forward facing the opponent. The sword is held in both hands to the side, lead hand on top. The blade is close to the body pointing up in a straight line.
[六] Kuji no Kamae - 九字の構 (Nine Character Posture): The lead leg is facing forward toward the opponent and the rear leg facing away toward the path of escape or evasion. The sword is held in both hands behind, lead hand on top. The blade is low and swept back.
Daitoujutsu Shoden Kiri - 大刀術初伝切
Kiri (切) refers six basic techniques (waza) [技] that are designed to align the body and teach proper biomechanics. These waza are represented as cutting directions.
[一] Kiri Age - 切上 (Cutting from Above): From joudan no kamae, step forward and cut down ending in chuudan no kamae.
[に] Kiri Kesa - 切袈裟 (Cutting the Stole): For the right side, from joudan no kamae, step forward with the lead leg and cut down diagonally to the right side ending in chuudan no kamae. For the left side, from joudan no kamae, shift forward with the rear foot and cut to the left side, ending in chuudan no kamae.
[三] Kiri Ichimonji - 切一文字 (Cutting One Character): For the right, from hassou no kamae, drop the blade back in ura chuudan no kamae, then step forward with the lead leg bringing the blade to cut at mid level, ending in chuudan no kamae. For the left side, from hassou no kamae, shift forward with the rear foot and drop the blade into hidari chuudan at the same time, stretch forward to complete the cut.
[四] Kiri Jouhou - 切上方 (Cutting Upward): For the right side, from migi kuji no kamae, step forward with the lead leg and at the same time bring the blade up diagonally ending in chuudan no kamae. For the left, from hidari kuji no kamae, step forward with the rear leg and cut diagonally upward ending in chuudan no kamae.
[五] Kiri Sage - 切下 (Cutting from Below): From kuji no kamae, shift the blade forward so it is facing down, then cut and step at the same time bringing the blade to chuudan no kamae.
[六] Tsuki - 突 (Thrust): For the right side, from chuudan no kamae, bring the weapon back and at the same time bring the rear foot to the lead foot, then lunge forward on the lead foot and thrust forward ending in chuudan no kamae. For the left side, from chuudan no kamae, draw the lead foot to the rear foot while at the same time bringing the weapon back, then lunge forward on the rear foot and thrust ending in chuudan no kamae.
Daitoujutsu Shoden Uke - 大刀術初伝受
Uke (受) are basic deflections used to redirect or intercept incoming attacks.
[一] Tsuki Uke - 突受 (Thrust Receiving): From gedan no kamae. Opponent cuts in from joudan no kamae, lunge forward with the lead foot and thrust into the lead jakkin (area between shoulder and torso).
[二] Age Uke - 起転受 (Above Receiving): From joudan no kamae. The opponent cuts in from kuji no kamae, shift to the side and cut down to the nagare (forearm).
[三] Jōdan Uke - 上段受 (High Receiving): From gedan no kamae. The opponent cuts in diagonally from joudan no kamae, shift to the side and bring the blade up, receiving the cut.
[四] Gedan Uke - 下段受 (Low Receiving): From joudan no kamae. The opponent thrusts in from chuudan no kamae, shift to the side and deflect the blade from above.
[五] Seigan Uke - 青眼受 (True Eye Receiving): From gedan no kamae. Shift back and move into seigan no kamae.
[六] Kerisage Uke - 蹴下受 (Rising Kick Receiving): From gedan no kamae. The opponent cuts in and the tsuba (hand guard) of the blades lock in; the opponent follows up with a kick from the lead foot. Shift the lead leg around and kick up with the rear leg to the back of the opponent's knee or leg.
Daitoujutsu shoden is based on concepts and ideas of the Gyokko Ryu school of the Bujinkan. The Gyokko Ryu school is an ancient tradition that dates back to feudal Japan. Each grandmaster in the lineage is called soke. The current head of the Gyokko Ryu school is grandmaster Hatsumi Masaaki. The lineage of the school is as follows:
Tozawa Hakuunsai (1156-1159)
Tozawa Shosuke (1161-1162)
Suzuki Saburo (1171-1180)
Suzuki Kojiro Mitsu
Tozawa Soun (1288)
Tozawa Nyudo Geneai
Kato Ryu Hakuun (1394)
Sakagami Goro Katsushige(1532)
Sakagami Taro Kunishige (1532-1555)
Sakagami Kotaro Masahide (1532)
Toda Sakyo Isshinsai (1532)
Momochi Sandayu (1542-1555)
Momochi Sandayu II (1573-1591)
Momochi Tanba Yasumitsu (1595-1615)
Momochi Taro Saemon (1615-1624)
Toda Seiryu Nobutsuna (1624-1644)
Toda Fudo Nobuchika (1658-1681)
Toda Kangoro Nobuyasu (1681-1704)
Toda Eisaburo Nobumasa (1704-1711)
Toda Shinbei Masachika (1711-1736)
Toda Shingoro Masayoshi (1736-1764)
Toda Daigoro Chikahide (1764-1804)
Toda Daisaburo Chikashige (1804)
Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu (1824-1909)
Takamatsu Toshitsugu (1887-1972)
Masaaki Hatsumi (1931-Current)
According to Kuden, the verbal tradition in Gyokko ryu, the system was developed in China during Tang-dynasty. There are two possible origins. Either there was a guard at the palace who developed the system after his small body, or it was developed by a princess. This is in accordance to the system of movement, which implies that it was developed by a physically smaller person.
According to another source, a famous musician and authority on the history of music by the name of Mr. An of Xian in China, there was a woman by the court in Xian (which was the main residence of Tang-dynasty), who was very famous for her skills in dancing and martial arts. By the fall of Tang-dynasty, year 907, many people of high stations in society escaped from China to Japan. The name that is connected to the origin of Gyokko ryu in Japan is Yo (or Cho) Gyokko. It could have been introduced by a single person, but it also might have been a whole group.
The first formal grandmaster in Japan was Hakuunsai Tozawa, who appeared some time during the period of Hogen (1156-1159). How he got the title, and how he got knowledge of the system is unknown. But Gyokko ryu, which means "Jewel Tiger", is according to Dai Nippon Bugei Ryu Ha one of the oldest documented martial arts in Japan.
The system was brought on and kept alive during Kamakura, Nambuko and Muromachi period, by the Suzuki family. In the 16th century it came to the Sakagami family, and between 1532 and 1555, the methods were organized by Sakagami Taro Kuniushige, who called the system Gyokko ryu Shitojutsu. The next supposed grandmaster, Sakagami Kotaro Masahide, was killed in battle 1542. Because of this, the title was passed on to Sougyoku Kan Ritsushi (also known as Gyokkan Ritsushi). Sakagami Kotaro Masahide was also known as Bando Kotaro Minamoto Masahide, and he was supposed to be the grandmaster of Koto ryu koppojutsu as well. He was never registered in Koto ryu, and his name is only mentioned in some of the lists of Gyokko ryu grandmasters.
Sougyoku Kan Ritsushi, who either came from the Kishu area or belonged to Kishu ryu, renamed Gyokko ryu Shitojutsu to Gyokko ryu Koshijutsu. He had some students who, in the 18th century, founded different schools based on Gyokko ryu and knowledge from Sougyoku.
In spite of the fact that two of the schools founded by Sougyoku Kan Ritsushis students went on to Takamatsu Toshitsugu and Hatsumi Masaaki, Gyokko ryu went it's own way along with Koto ryu. The schools went to Toda Sakyo Ishinsai and Momochi Sandayu I. After that, the schools remained in the Toda and Momochi families until Takamatsu, who was the last of the Todas to learn the arts, passed the schools to Hatsumi Masaaki.
It is thanks to the Toda and Momochi families' activities in the Iga province that the schools has come to belong to the local ninjutsu tradition, despite that the schools themselves were not really ninjutsu. Another connection in history is that Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu, Takamatsu's teacher and uncle, is said to be a descendant of Hakuunsai Tozawa's.
Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu taught Takamatsu that the most important thing is to study the techniques of Kihon Kata, also known as Kihon Happo, since they are the basis of all martial arts. This means that Kihon Happo covers all methods that are effective in real combat such as blocks, punches, kicks, breaking of wrists and elbows, and throws. The methods of Gyokko ryu are based on Koshijutsu (attacks against soft parts of the body). The strategy differs therefore very much from for example Koppojutsu, which concentrates on the bone structure.
While Koppojutsu motions goes in and out to come at right angles to the joints, Koshijutsu moves sideways, or around the attack, to get close to Kyoshi (the weak parts of the body). These targets can be nerve points, but also inner organs, or muscles and where the muscles are attached. One of the reasons for this system is probably because it was developed by a small person. The power in the counterattacks is therefore not generated by muscles, but by the hips and the spine. This is shown for example by the way of blocking, which concentrates on a powerful block to break the opponents balance, and thereby reaching the weak points of the body. An important detail in order to move close to the opponent, is that the back hand is always held in front of the face as a guard against counterattacks.
A frequently used body weapon in Gyokko ryu are the fingers and the fingertips. This is the reason for the earlier name Shitojutsu, which means techniques with the fingertips. Shitoken, also known as Boshiken, is the most common finger strike. This is a strike with the tip of the thumb, most often against where the muscles are attached or nerve points. The bone by the wrist is also a weapon, which is used for blocking, hits against Kasumi (the temple), etc. Another way of hitting is to push the knuckle of the middle finger in front of the other knuckles in a modified Shikanken. It is not only Boshiken that has another name in Gyokko ryu. Shutoken is called Kitenken, for example.
The thumbs are important in Gyokko ryu. It is mostly shown in the three official stances: Ichimonji no kamae, Hicho no kamae, and Jumonji no kamae, where the thumbs always are directed upwards. The reason is that the energy always should flow freely, and there should be no lockups in the movement. In Gyokko ryu it is important to protect the heart. Therefore a starting position with the right leg forward is preferred, so that the left side is turned away from the opponent. Shoshin no kamae, Doko no kamae — "Angry tiger", and Hanin no kamae are also said to belong to Gyokko ryu.
Gyokko ryu consists of several parts. First there is Kamae no kata (stances) and Taihen Kihon (falls). The next step is Ki kata, also known as Sanshin no kata. Ki kata teaches basic movements based on the five elements. These movements reoccur in all techniques in Gyokko ryu. After that comes Kihon kata and Toride Kihon kata, which are basic exercises for punches, kicks, blocks, grabs and throws. There are different statements on how many the exercises are, and which exercises that belongs. Usually there are three exercises for punches, kicks and blocks, and five or six for grabs and throws. The last are trained from both sides.
After all these basic exercises, you come to Koshijutsu. Koshijutsu is split in three main parts:
Joryaku no maki - Unarmed vs Unarmed
Churyaku no maki - Unarmed vs Tanto or Kodachi
Geryaku no maki - Unarmed vs Ken or Yari
Mutodori from Geryaku no maki are techniques against sword or spear and is considered to be the highest, and most difficult level of Gyokko ryu.
Gyokko ryu was, beside the Kosshijutsu, also known for it's methods with Katana, Tanto and Bo. Except for some techniques with Bo, very much of this is unknown. More of this will probably be known, however, since Hatsumi Masaaki is releasing more information on the subject.
Even though Gyokko ryu can not claim to be a ninjutsu school, due to the lack of philosophy among other things, there is one saying that has followed the school: "Bushigokoro wo motte totoshi no nasu", which means "The heart of a warrior is precious and essential".
History of Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu
by Peter Carlsson; Contributed by Mats Hjelm