Yagyū Shingan-ryū is a comprehensive and fierce system of Samurai battlefield strategy and tactics, developed over 400 years ago, at the dawn of the Edo era. Although relatively rare, even in Japan, it is renowned as one of the great schools of classical Japanese martial arts. The word "Shingan" is of Zen origin and refers to the inner-faculty of perception; the mind's eye (soul's eye). There are two recognized historical lineages of Yagyū Shingan-ryū; Heihō (兵法), which literally translates as "Art of War". This lineage now has several branches under the direction of different Shihan. The second lineage is known as Taijutsu (體術), which translates as "Body Art". Taijutsu
(c. mid-1700s) is headquartered in Tochigi Prefecture and functions under the directorship of Kajitsuka Yasushi, the 11th Generation Headmaster. Both organizations are recognized by the Nihon Kobudō Kyōkai & Nihon Kobudō Shinkōkai.
Yawara (aka: Jūjutsu), Samurai Art of Unarmed Combat
literally translates as the "supple art". It employs a wide range of grappling, joint-locking, sweeping and throwing techniques. Pressure-point striking and some degree of ground-fighting is also encompassed. The Edo-line of Yagyū Shingan-ryū, known as Taijutsu (body art), is often referred to as the hard or muscular style of Yagyū Shingan-ryū. While this may appear to be the case, emphasis is placed on body physics, as opposed to the use of brute strength. There are over 50 jūjutsu kata in the Edo lineage.
Kenjutsu, Samurai Swordsmanship
Ken-jutsu, as opposed to ken-dō, is a system of sword fighting techniques designed for use on the battlefields of old Japan. In Yagyū Shingan-ryū Taijutsu, we use several types of wooden sword for training (Ōdachi, bokutō, kodachi etc.). The Ōdachi is a thick, heavy, wooden sword with a donut-like tsuba (guard) made of cloth. It is used primarily to develop diaphragmatic breathing (ki development), posture, power and overall control. There are over 50 sword kata in our curriculum.
Bōjutsu is the Samurai art of quarterstaff. Similar to European traditions, staff are approximately head-height and made of hard wood. Unlike Okinawan systems, which often grip the staff at it's center and strike with either end (short range), Yagyū Shingan-ryū Taijutsu employs the full length of the weapon. Techniques focus on controlling and dominating the center-line whilst in a traditional hanmi (side-facing) stance. There are 20 kihon kata, and numerous variations. The weapon is employed in a manner that allows for easy transition to other pole weapons, such as the glaive or spear.
The naginata is a traditional pole weapon with a curved blade attached to one end, similar to a European glaive. In Yagyū Shingan-ryū Taijutsu, the naginata curriculum is an extension of our bōjutsu training, which also interrelates with other arts, such as spearmanship (sōjutsu).
Iaijutsu is the Samurai art of safely and efficiently drawing, cutting and sheathing the sword during combat.
Hojōjutsu (aka: Nawajutsu)
Hojōjutsu is the Samurai art of arresting / restraining an opponent by use of rope or cord.
© Mikko Vilenius
© Mikko Vilenius
当流の柔は、修養・鍛練に重きが置かれているところに特徴があります。 勿論、当初は極めて実戦的ものでありましたが、先師たちの工夫により危険な技が省かれ、稽古鍛練に適した技に改編されて来ました。特に、八世 星野天知は明治期に明治女学校において女子に当流を教授しており、現在の形は老若男女を問わず容易に稽古を行える様になっています。
当流棒術の特徴は、棒を順手持ちにする技が多くその長さ一杯に使う事で、極めて実用的な棒使いとなっています。 棒術の技は、主として初心者向けに編まれた表棒と、実践的な裏棒から構成されています。 表棒は、退きながら、しかも相手と同じ動作で勝つ勝口を身に着けることを第一としていて、半身など武道の基本的な身体動作を身に着けることができます。 裏棒は、返しと突きの極めて実戦的な技となっていて、これを有効に使いこなすにはかなりの熟練を要しますが、表棒を習得した後、早棒と言う稽古を徹底的に行なって無駄 な力を抜き、呼吸法、リズミカルでスムースな進退動作を習得した後、裏棒の稽古に入り、無理なく技を習得できる様、稽古方法に工夫が施されています。
以上が、当流の代表的な技の特徴ですが、当流柳生心眼流體術の技の体系は、次の次の様になっています。 柳生心眼流體術 ＜柔術＞ 居取 十手 立合 三十四手 ＜長刀術＞七手 ＜剣術＞ 七手 ＜居合術＞ 八手 ＜棒術＞ 表形 十手 裏形 十手。当流の奥義は心気力の一致であり、呼吸法により臍下丹田に気を治め、身体をどのように動かそうとも心気が臍下に在って動かない、天地陰陽合体した不動の尊体が当流極意となっています。形稽古を通 して肉体・心・精神を練り、こうした奥義に至り、人として真の己をこの世において実現することに当流の主眼が置かれています。
Yagyū Shinkage-ryū Hyōhō (Ōtsubo Lineage)
Kajitsuka Yasushi, Menkyo Kaiden, 23rd Generation Successor
In addition to Yagyū Shingan-ryū, Arakido students are also trained in the art of Yagyū Shinkage-ryū. Yagyū Shinkage-ryū is a school of swordsmanship founded by Kamiizumi Iseno-kami Hidetsuna (later known as Masashino-kami Nobutsuna). When practicing, we use traditional fukuro-shinai (bamboo swords encased in lacquered leather sleeves). The founder was born in Joshu Kammizumi (present day, Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture) in 1508. He studied Shinto-Ryū under Matsumoto Bizenno-kami and Kage-ryu from Aisu Ikousai. He later combined the techniques and philosophies of the two, and created Shinkage-ryū.
Yagyū Shinkage-ryū was founded by Yagyū Sekishusai Muneyoshi, a disciple of Kamiizumi Iseno-kami. Sekishusai became acquainted with Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Muneyoshi's fifth son, Munenori, served as the official kenjutsu / martial arts instructor to Ieyasu and his two heirs (son - Hidetada / 2nd Shogun, and grandson - Iemitsu / 3rd Shogun).
The lineage was handed down from Munenori's son, Yagyū Jubei Mitsuyoshi to Yagyū Munefuyu. Sekishusai's grandson, Hyugono-suke Toshitoshi served the Owari Tokugawa family, and became the founder of Owari Yagyū Shinkage-ryū. The main line (lineage via family succession) has been passed-down over the generations to the present day Sōke (22nd generation), Yagyū Koichi.
Arakido's 10th generation headmaster, Mutō Masao was a disciple of the late Ōtsubo Shiho (Shihan). Ōtsubo studied under the grandfather and great-grandfather of the present day Sōke, Yagyū Koichi. Having received Menkyo Kaiden in the art, he was considered at that time to be one of Japan's great swordsmen. Prior to his death he appointed Mutō Masao as his successor, and in turn, it was forwarded on to the present day headmaster of Arakido, Kajitsuka Yasushi.
It is important to note that both Shingan-ryū and Shinkage-ryū share more than just the Yagyū name. They also share core principles and fundamental technical applications.
Arakido World Headquarters, Japan
Legend has it, Yagyū Shingan-ryū was founded in Sendai (Miyagi Prefecture) in the early 1600's, by one of Japan's most revered samurai, Araki Mataemon [1594-1634]. Araki was a practitioner of Yagyū Shinkage-ryū, under Yagyū Munenori. Originally, the style was known as Araki-dō (荒木堂). The name Yagyū Shingan-ryū was conceived after Yagyū Jubei offered to append the Yagyū family name. The word "Shingan" was chosen to describe a fundamental concept of the style (Zen origin). Shingan, literally translates as "Heart's Eye" (Soul's Eye), and refers to the faculty of inner-perception or intuition. When the mind is calmed and the emotions are tamed, we are able to attune with others, predicting and controlling there reactions.
Scrolls and documents handed-down over centuries identify Araki Mataemon as the originator of our tradition. The Edo-line of Yagyū Shingan-ryū stems from headmaster Koyama Samon [1718-1800], who carried the art from Sendai to Edo. Koyama established his dōjō in Asakusa, Tokyo for 18 years. Later in life, he retired to his hometown of Sendai (Miyagi Prefecture). Today, both the Sendai and Edo lines are still active in Japan. Passed down over the centuries, from headmaster to headmaster via an unbroken lineage, the two schools have evolved in slightly different directions, but still share many common traits. Current headmaster Kajitsuka Yasushi began training as a boy under the late Mutō Masao in 1965. Mutō was a collector and historian, specializing in the classical martial arts of Japan. Throughout his lifetime, he assembled one of the largest collections of rare books, denshō and other related materials in private hands today. Unlike modern schools of budō, Yagyū Shingan-ryū is an art of war. It was developed for use on the battlefield. Some of the founding-fathers of modern budō, such as Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of Aikidō, and Kanō Jigorō, the founder of Judō, were students of Yagyū Shingan-ryū Taijutsu.
Unlike its counterpart, the Edo-line of Yagyū Shingan-ryū does not employ the use of armor. Under the Tokugawa shogunate, Japan enjoyed centuries of peace and prosperity. Samurai in the ancient capital of Edo (Tokyo) commonly wore kimono and hakama. Today, we train in modern judōgi, zori (rice straw sandles) and hachimaki (head-cloth, traditionally with an iron plate insert, to protect the head). For formal events and public demonstrations, we continue to dress in kimono and wear hakama. Although the wearing of armor is not a formal part of our repertoire, this does not suggest that the techniques are not rooted in armored combat -- they are. Students are taught both the traditional armored applications and the more modern, urbanized applications which evolved during the Edo period.
Membership & Training Locations
The Arakido headquarters dojo and prefectural branch dojo are all located in Japan. We do not have overseas dojo or licensed instructors teaching abroad. The honbu dojo located in Tochigi Prefecture holds classes on Saturdays only. Our three branch dojo located in Kanagawa prefecture are in Yamato city, Zushi city and Kamakura city. They all meet once or twice a week.
Membership is traditionally by invitation only. Expressions of interest are welcome, but only sincere students will be invited to observe or partake in trial lessons. All of our dojo are under the direction of senior instructors.
In addition, we also have study groups in Moscow (Russia), Krivoy Rog (Ukraine), Toronto (Canada) and Wisconsin (USA). Study groups known in Japanese as keiko-kai are student gatherings where self training and information sharing takes place. Keiko-kai are not dojo and they do not offer licensed instruction. These groups sponsor instructors from Japan to visit them on an annual basis and weekend seminars are usually open to the general public.
For further information, direct inquiries to
David Kawazu-Barber at Arakido Japan Headquarters.
If you are expecting a reply, please remember to introduce yourself, providing your full name and country of residence.
Nippon Budokan Documentary
Katori Shrine, Chiba
Asakusa Kobudo Enbu Taikai
Heihō & Taijutsu gather at Mutō Dojo
Meiji Shrine, Tokyo
Yawara demo at Meiji Shrine
Bojutsu demo at Meiji Shrine
Yagyū Shinkage-ryū training at Yagyū Village
Ōtsubo Shiho & Yagyū Toshinaga (Genchō)
Meiji Shrine demonstration