The Art of Swinging a Stick
I had noticed some visitors, guests, parents and even some members and students looking into the dojo on Friday evening with curious expressions. They seem to be wondering what all this stick swinging is about. For some time now I have been introducing the students to a classical martial art or (koryu) known as Shinto or Shindo Muso Ryu.
The ryu or school is made up of a few different Japanese martial arts forms, the martial traditions of the ryu include: Shinto Muso Ryu Jodo – Stick, Uchida Ryu Tanjojutsu – short stick, Kasumi Shinto Ryu Kenjutsu – sword, Isshin Ryu Kusarigamajutsu – sickle with weighted chain, Isshin Ryu Juttejutsu – metal truncheon with tine or prong, Ittatsu Ryu Hojojutsu – tying chord.
Each of these is a school onto themselves; however longtime students of Shinto Muso Ryu will learn the other martial ways thus providing a well rounded expertise.
Shinto-Muso-Ryu was founded over 400 years ago (1605) by Muso Gonnosuke Katsukichi. Historical records state that Gonnosuke mastered Tenshin Shoden-Katori Shinto-Ryu and Kashima-Shin-Ryu under Master Matsumoto Bizennokami: He was so skilled that he was never defeated in numerous matches with famous swordsmen. He met and dueled with the master swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, in Banshu Akashi: Gonnosuke challenged Musashi to a duel, Musashi using “Jujidome”, of his Niten-Ichi-Ryu, involves locking the opponent’s weapon in an “x-shaped” block using the samurai’s long and short sword in combination, (Daisho, long and short). Gonnosuke could neither advance nor retreat and was thereby defeated. Due to his defeat Gonnosuke traveled around the country and studied many different martial arts, determined to become strong enough to defeat Musashi’s Jujidome.
Several years later he went to Chikuzen and stopped in a town that is now known as Daizaifu City in Fukuoka Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. He climbed up the holy Homan Mountain, and confined himself in Kamado Temple for 37 days. As a result of his intensive prayer on the last day a child appeared in his dream and gave him a divine message: “Know the solar plexus with a round stick“. Using this message, Gonnosuke made a staff of oak, 4-Shaku 2-Sun 1-Bu (128 cm approximately) in length and 8-Bu (2.4 cm) in diameter. He used it as a weapon and originated Jodo in which three martial arts were synthesized: The thrusting of theYari (spear), the sweeping of the Naginata (halberd) and the striking of the Tachi (long sword) and Bo (long staff). Legend states that he defeated Musashi’s Jujidome and handed him the only loss Musashi ever suffered.
Muso Gonnosuke Shrine in Kyushu
Later Gonnosuke was engaged as a master in the Kuroda Clan (Fukuoka) and trained several instructors: Jodo was handed down as a Martial Art which was not allowed to be taken out from the clan. Jodo was introduced to the public for the first time in 1871, during the Meiji Restoration Period.
In the 1960’s Jodo was recognized by the All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF). In collaboration with Shimizu Soke the AJKF introduced the “Seitei Gata” forms. The twelve kata taken from the three levels of Shindo Muso Ryu. Small changes were carried out in order to compliment kendo training.
The 25th Headmaster Shimizu Takaji Katsuyasu died in 1978 without leaving a successor. Both he and Otofuji Ichizo Katsunori were the disciples of the 24th Headmaster Shiraishi Hanjiro Shigeaki – warrior of the Kuroda Clan. Shimizu went to Tokyo for the popularization of Jodo, while Otofuji Ichizo Katsunori remained in Fukoka. Otofuji’s students numbered many, and my lineage runs to him through
Shiokawa Hosho, a direct student of Otofuji.
Shiokawa taught Kai Kuniyaki who taught Juge Ryuske who taught me. I have the honour of having been taught at different seminars by Shiokawa and Kai while I am a direct student of Juge having started my training in 1992.
There are a total of “64” forms in three levels, Omote- Beginner Level, Chudan – Middle Level Forms, as well as Okudan – Advanced Level Forms that include secret forms only handed down to the highest ranking of students.
12 Kion Waza – Basic Techniques
12 Omote Kata – Basic Forms: