Kukishinden Ryū Happō Biken – article translation

•March 21, 2013 • 1 Comment

九鬼神伝流八法秘剣

後醍醐天皇の守護についていた薬師丸蔵人隆真を始祖とする。後に功により九鬼姓を賜わった。棒、槍、薙刀、手裏剣、体術などの8法に剣術が加わる。剣が特に素晴らしい。当時は戦争の時代だったから殺人剣が多かったが、後に平和な時代になるとそれが活人剣になる。九鬼水軍が船の上で用いたため、腰を低く落として安定した構えが基本になった。

kukishinden 6

Kukishinden ryū happō biken

The founder Yakushimaru Kurando Takanao was a military governor (shugo) under Emperor Go-Daigo. The Kuki family name was an honour granted later. Kenjutsu is added to the eight methods that include bō, yari, naginata, shuriken and taijutsu. The sword (technique) is especially wonderful. At this time it was an era of war and many people were killed with the sword. Later in the period of peace it became the life saving sword. The Kuki naval forces worked on board ship so the fundamental became dropping the hips for a low stable stance.

Kukishinden 1

九鬼神伝流八法秘剣 Kukishinden ryū happō biken – nine demons divine transmission style, eight methods, secret sword.

The 鬼 ki of kuki is generally translated as demon, however could also mean spirit or ogre (read Oni), more importantly this does not have the evil connotation that the word demon in English (or Judeo-Christian languages) does.
Shinden can variously be translated as ‘teachings of the gods’ ‘teaching conveyed from the gods’ ‘transmitted to the soul’.
Happō can be eight methods, laws or principles, bearing in mind that eight can imply ‘numerous’.

kukishinden 2

薬師丸蔵人隆真 Yakushimaru Kurando Takanao

薬師丸 Yakushimaru – medicine man, chemical expert
蔵人 Kurando – keeper of imperial archives or a sake brewer
隆真 Takanao – noble truth – the same kanji can also be read as Takamasa, Takanori, Ryūma, Ryūshin and various others – as there is no furigana in the article to indicate the pronunciation I’ve left it as Takanao.

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守護 Shugo – military governor in the Kamakura and Muromachi period

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後醍醐天皇 Go-Daigo Tennō – the later or second to bear the name Daigo, equivalent of saying Emperor Daigo II. Tennō – heavenly emperor/Emperor of Japan. Lived 1288 – 1339 and reigned from 1318 – 1339.
Go-Daigo in 1336/7 (transition from Kamakura to Muromachi period) set up the southern court and so began the period of two courts Nanboku-chō (Southern and Northern)

1185 – 1333 鎌倉時代 Kamakura jidai
1333 – 1336 建武の新政 Kemmu no Shinsei
1336 – 1573 室町時代 Muromachi jidai
1336 – 1392 南北朝時代 Nanboku-chō jidai (a subdivision of the Muromachi)

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The lineage chart shows Kukishinden ryū, originating with Yakushimaru Kurando, passing through Ōoka Kihei Shigenobu to Ishitani Matsutarō Takakage who then passes it on to Takamatsu Toshitsugu to arrive at Hatsumi Masaaki. Note here that in the Japanese article 大岡鬼平重信 Ōoka Kihei Shigenobu is written – usually this person is 大国 Ōkuni Kihei Shigenobu – this may be typo from when the chart was edited for the magazine…

hiden togakure kukishinden genealogy

Shinden Fudō Ryū Dakentaijutsu – article translation

•August 30, 2012 • 2 Comments

神伝不動流打拳体術
出雲冠者義照の伝えた骨指術の流れを汲み、源八郎為義が12世紀の中頃に創始。構え自然体ひとつしかないのか特長。ただし、実際わ心の中で映像を作って構えている。

Shinden Fudō ryū dakentaijutsu
Legend has it that Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru was the first to understand the flow of koppojutsu, Minamoto Hachirō Tameyoshi was the founder in the 12th century. The principal feature is the natural body posture. However, in actual fact I have an image (of a posture) pictured in my mind.

神伝不動流打拳体術 Shinden Fudō ryū dakentaijutsu – Divine transmission of immovability style striking body-technique or art.  Often referred to simply as Fudō ryū by teachers in Japan.

出雲冠者義照 Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru – Izumo (province), young man (coming of age), shining justice – A young man from Izumo.

In mythology the entrance to Yomi黄泉, the land of the dead, is to be found in Izumo province. An interesting link to the ‘natural hell methods’ of the Shizen Shigoku no Kata in Shinden Fudō ryū…

源八郎為義 Minamoto Hachirō Tameyoshi – Minamoto (clan), eighth son, source of justice. An eighth son of someone in the Minamoto clan, of which there were many…

In the 12th Century 3 major families/clans vying for supremacy were the Fujiwara 藤原, Minamoto (aka Genji 源氏 Gen clan) and Taira (aka Heike 平家 Hei family).

The genealogy for Shinden Fudō ryū is fairly straightforward – from Ikai to Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru, Minamoto Hachirō Tameyoshi founded the style that was passed down to Toda Shinryūken Masamitsu to be passed on to Takamatsu Toshitsugu and then Hatsumi Masaaki.


There is a historical Minamoto Tameyoshi 源為義 – also known as Mutsu Shirō 陸奥四郎 sixth (rank) of the interior, fourth-son, with the position of Rokujō (Hangan) 六条判官 sixth-rank judge (under the Ritsuryō system mentioned in a previous post).

Minamoto Tameyoshi became the head of the Minamoto clan and supported Fujiwara Yorinaga in trying to place Sutoku on the throne in 1156, opposing Go-Shirakawa who was supported by Fujiwara Tadamichi, Taira Kiyomori, Minamoto Yoshitomo (the son of Minamoto Tameyoshi) – a mix of both Minamoto and Taira. This became known as the Hōgen war or rebellion (保元の乱 Hōgen no ran). Go-Shirakawa’s faction was the victor, with Minamoto Tameyoshi becoming a monk and consequently executed by his son. This begins the struggle between the Minamoto and Taira (源平 Gempei), with the Taira initially gaining dominance to then be defeated by the Minamoto at the battle of Dan no ura no tataki 壇ノ浦の戦. Minamoto Yoritomo was to became the first Shōgun of Japan.

(This is just here for interest – in no way to indicate that this person is the same as the founder of Shinden Fudō ryū!)

Gikan Ryū Koppōjutsu – article translation

•August 15, 2012 • 3 Comments

義鑑流骨法術
骨指術の流れを汲んで、16世紀に河内の爪生判官義鑑房が創始した。
この骨法術から続く流れには、もうひとつ鈴木大膳太郎近政の本体玉心流という骨法があり、それが出雲の深尾角馬重義に伝わって出雲骨法となったが、初見氏にはその流れが伝わっていない。

Koppojutsu

Gikan ryū koppōjutsu

Drawing from the transmission of kosshijustsu, founded in the 16th century in Kawachi by Uryū Hangan Gikanbō.
From this koppōjutsu transmission there is another koppō school called Hontai Gyokushin ryū by Suzuki Daizentaro Chikamasa, passed on to Fukao Kakuma Shigeyoshi as Izumo koppō, this school was not transmitted to Hatsumi sensei (aka this is not the one that was passed to Hatsumi)

爪生判官義鑑房 Uryū Hangan Gikanbō

判官 Hangan, Zō – judge or magistrate, this term originates from the Ritsuryo 律令 system introduced to Japan from China in the 7th Century – originally it indicated an administrator of the 3rd or 4th rank (out of 4).


義鑑 Gikan
Paragon of Justice

Most commonly Gikan ryū is referred to as the ‘Truth, Loyalry and Justice School’, this name being repeated throughout any site in English in relation to the Bujinkan (schools).

It may seem strange to many to point out this out, however Truth, Loyalty and Justice are differing meanings of the first character ‘Gi’ 義 – so really the ‘Truth, Loyalty and Justice School’ should be Gi ryū.

The more significant, and completely ignored, is the second character ‘kan’ 鑑, used to indicate several ideas from ‘to learn or take warning from’ or ‘a specimen or model’.

Gikan can be understood as the Example of Righteousness, Model of Honour, Paragon of Justice, Exemplar of Truth, To Take Heed of Morality.

Gikan ryū, to narrow it down in English parlance, can be the Paragon of Virtue or Paragon of Justice Style.

Example of loyalty

Gikan ryū is one of the 4 styles attributed to Gyokkan, who learnt the Gyokko ryū of Hachidō Nyūdō through Tozawa Hyakuunsai Kaneuji. Gikan ryū is passed though Ishitani Matsutarō Takakage and then on to Takamatsu Toshitsugu to arrive at Hatsumi Masaaki.

Gyokushin ryū ninpō – article translation

•August 8, 2012 • 1 Comment

玉心流忍法
骨指術の流れを汲み、佐々木王郎右衛門暉頼が創始した。忍法の流派の特徴は使う武器の種類にある。玉心流は投縄が秀れている。

Gyokushin ryū ninpō
Drawing from the transmission of kosshijutsu, Sasaki Ōrōemon Teruyori is the founder. A speciality of the ninpō schools is their weapon of choice, for Gyokushin ryū this is the nagenawa.

玉心 Gyokushin – jeweled heart, treasured spirit, precious centre or core, to treasure that held in the heart – all interchangeable and viable interpretations.  Jeweled heart is the most frequently quoted, but doesn’t really do justice to the name as is a simplistic reading of individual kanji.

暉頼 Teruyori – shining trust – also written as Akiyari and Teruyoshi in various translations.

投縄 Nagenawa – throwing rope or lasso – though I dislike the use of lasso as this translation often brings to mind the American cowboy – possible better functional terms are looped rope, catching rope, thrown rope, snare or restraining rope.

Gyokushin ryū is one of the 4 styles attributed to Gyokkan, who learnt the Gyokko ryū of Hachidō Nyūdō through Tozawa Hyakuunsai Kaneuji.  Gyokushin ryū is passed down to Toda Shinryūken Masamitsu and Takamatsu Toshitsugu to arrive at Hatsumi Masaaki.

Kumogakure Ryū Ninpō – article translation

•July 31, 2012 • 2 Comments

雲隠流忍法
伊賀流忍法の始祖といわれる伊賀平内左衛門家長(雲隠法師)の流れを組み、戸田左源田信房を経て、戸田家に伝られる。

Kumogakure ryū ninpō
Iga Heinaizaeimon Ienage (Kumogakure Hōshi) is said to be the founder of Iga ryū ninpō, this flow was brought together by Toda Sagenta Nobufusa and thereafter transmitted to the Toda family.

雲隠 Kumogakure – hiding in the clouds, hidden cloud, cloud hiding
法師 Hōshi – Buddhist priest
平内左衛門 Heinaizaeimon – peaceful house on the left side of the defensive gate
家長 Ienage – family head, patriarch
信房 Nobufusa – trusted house, faithful follower

Another descendant of Hachidō Nyūdō’s Gyokko ryū, Kumogakure ryū is seen as the creation of Toda Sagenta Nobufusa based on the Iga ryū of Iga Heinaizaeimon Ienage. Through the Toda family it then finds its way to Takamatsu Toshitusgu and Hatsumi Masaaki.

Iga Heinaizaeimon Ienage – looking at this name you can see ‘the patriarch of the family that resided in the peaceful house to the the left of the gate in Iga’ and so indicates a person of prominent position. He is also referred to as Kumogakure Hōshi, or a Buddhist priest hidden in the clouds, as noted with Togakure ryū this links the person with the nature of the Iga region and mountain asceticism. So is the style named by Toda Sagenta Nobufusa (the trusted follower) as Kumogakure ryū the taking of his teachers name or named after the location associated with the person?


The description for Kumogakure ryū is brief and the same is true for the two following styles, Gyokushin ryū and Gikan ryū. To reiterate my purpose here is just to present a translation of the text and some comments on the names/kanji, I am trying to avoid any interpretation, explanation or information based on my experience of training with Soke or the Shihan in Japan (though I had to remind myself not to add a load on Kotō ryū from Senō-sensei last time…).

Kotō Ryū Koppōjutsu – article translation

•July 23, 2012 • 2 Comments

虎倒流骨法術
骨法といっても、今はやりの喧嘩芸との関係は無い。玉虎流を僧玉観から学んだ戸田左京一心斎が16世紀中頃に創始した。もともと骨法とは古代中国から伝わった技で、強法とも呼ばれ、隠し武器を使うのが特長だという。戸隠流とともに伊賀忍者から戸田家に伝えられ、やはり百地三太夫も学んでいる。初見氏によれば骨はの技コツに通じるという。

Kotō ryū koppōjutsu
Present day fighting techniques bear no relationship to what one might call koppo…
Toda Sakyō Isshinsai learned the Gyokko ryū of Sō Gyokkan and founded (this school) in the mid 16th Century. The technique of koppō was originally introduced from ancient China, also known as Gōhō (strong method), its speciality is to make use of hidden weapons. Transmitted to the Toda family along with Togakure ryū by the Iga ninja. Momochi Sandayū also learned this. According to Mr Hatsumi there is the ‘knack’ to understanding the technique of using the skeleton/bones.

虎倒 Kotō – tiger knocking down, tiger defeating, to fell a tiger.
僧玉観 Sō Gyokkan – a (Buddhist) monk, jewelled appearance. Looking at the Chinese for 玉観 you could also see the name as suggesting that this person is a treasured (possibly imperial) advisor or observer.
強法 Gōhō – strong or powerful method. Pronunciation as gōhō is indicated by furigana alongside kanji in the text.

The first line was particularly vexing to translate into something that made sense in English, after trying out several different versions I am currently happy with the one written above. Similarly with the last line there are various ways to phrase it in English, and thus subtly altering the meaning.

As with Togakure ryū in the genealogy chart, Kotō ryū is descended from the Gyokko ryū of Hachidō Nyūdō, but through Tozawa Hyakuunsai Kaneuji to Gyokkan who is seen as the source of four styles. Kotō ryū is passed on to Hatsumi Masaaki, as with Togakure ryū, through Momochi Sandayū, the Toda family, Toda Shinryūken Masamitsu and Takamatsu Toshitsugu.

Togakure Ryū Ninpō – article translation

•July 15, 2012 • 2 Comments

戸隠流忍法
木曽義仲の家臣だった戸隠大助が、12世紀の始め頃、戦いに敗れて伊賀に身を隠し、叔父の霞隠道士から骨指術や剣術を始めとする様々な武術を学んで開いた。最初は戸隠流八法秘剣と呼ばれ、時代によって名称は様々に変化した。伊賀忍者の百地三太夫などが学び、紀州藩の取名家を経は、17世紀頃から戸田家に伝わった。戸隠流は、手甲、施盤投げ、手裏剣、水遁の術に使う四尺のしの竹などに特長がある。戸隠流忍法体術は、骨指術からの分家である。

Togakure Ryū Ninpō
Togakure Daisuke was a vassal of Kiso Yoshinaka in the early 12th century, he hid in Iga after losing a battle, from his uncle Kagakure Dōshi he was taught a variety of martial arts beginning with kosshijutsu and kenjutsu. Though the name was changed depending on the period it was first referred to as Togakure ryū happō biken. In the 17th century the Toda family took over the school. Iga ninja such as Momochi Sandayū learnt from the distinguished family when it moved to Kishū province. Specialities of the Togakure ryū are shuko, senban throwing, shuriken and water evasion techniques including the use of a 4 shaku bamboo tube. Togakure ryū ninpō taijutsu is a branch of kosshijutsu.

霞隠 Kagakure – mist hiding, hiding in the mist – also read as Kain.
雲隠 Kumogakure – cloud hiding, hiding in the clouds
道士 Dōshi – a moral person or Taoist
Kagakure and Kumogakure are used interchangeably, both can be seen as coming form the from the homeland of Togakure ryū – the mist sheathed mountain slopes of Iga – as well as the use of smoke to escape that is synonymous with the legend of the Ninja. So you can see Kagakure Dōshi as a religious person who is able to hide in the mists and clouds – this also brings to mind the 修験道 Shugendō idea of being able to subsist through eating mist.

百地三太夫 Momochi Sandayū – a famous ninja who’s exploits appears in many stories.

手甲 Shuko – hand spikes. But also be read as Tekko – hand armour or armoured sleeves.
施盤投げ Senban nage – rotating plate throwing. Although the first character used in the text is 施 which refers to begging or alms so reads ‘begging bowl throwing’ bringing to mind the idea of disguise as a beggar in espionage. The characters for rotating plate are 旋盤.
手裏剣 Shuriken – blade inside the hand, small throwing blade
四尺のしの竹 Yonshaku no Shinodake – 4 length or measure bamboo tube. A shaku is 30.3 cm so the breathing tube is around 1.2 meters.

The genealogy chart shows Togakure ryū as coming from the Gyokko ryū of Hachidō Nyūdō through Kagakure Dōshi to Togakure Daisuke. It then passes on though Momochi Sandayū to the Toda family, to Toda Shinryūken Masamitsu, Takamatsu Toshitsugu then Hatsumi Masaaki.