37th Kobudo Demonstration at the Nippon Budokan

On Sunday February 9th 2014, the Nippon Budokan welcomed representatives of 35 schools of traditional Japanese martial arts during the 37th Kobudo Embutakai. This annual show is one of the most important events related to Koryu that take place in Tokyo, the other major one being the demonstration taking place in March at Meiji Jingu Shrine. However, the conditions were not ideal this year since one of the most severe snowstorms of the past twenty years had just passed over the country the previous day, killing 11 people, leaving 40,000 homes without electricity, and leading to the cancellation of over 700 flights. In spite of this, the passion of all these experts originating from all over Japan was such that they braved the elements and reached a Tokyo covered with 27 cm of snow in order to present their respective arts. Here details and videos of 11 out of the 35 demonstrations that took place on that day.

I must admit that until very recently, Koryu demonstrations tended to somewhat bore me, but since I have started to seriously get into my own Koryu, Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, I have developed a somewhat sharper eye and it allows me to better appreciate the qualities and technical heritage of the centuries-old disciplines presented here.

Jiki Shinkage-ryu Naginata-jutsu

The Jikishinkage-Ryu Naginata was founded about 500 years ago Matsumoto Bizen-no-Kami Naokatsu (1467-1524), taking as a basis for his art the sword techniques of the Kashima and Kurama-Ryu schools.

Jiki Shinkage-ryu Naginata-jutsu demonstrated by its Soke Sonobe Masami and Ogiwara Haruko

Yagyu Shinkage-ryu Heiho

The Yagyu-ryu Shinkage is one of the oldest schools of Japanese sword. The Heio school has substituted the term Heio to Kenjutsu in order to highlight the fact that this variant of the art is not only a form of fencing, but also a strategy.

Yagyu Shinkage-ryu Heiho demonstrated by the 22th Soke, Yagyu Koichi

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu

The technicians who demonstrated Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu were representatives from my own school, the Takumakai. It was also one of the very rare appearances of Mori Hakaru (83 years-old), the General Director of the Takumakai and to me, that alone justified coming to the event. Mori Sensei was assisted by one of the Chief Instructors of the group, Kawabe Takeshi (8th Dan) and his students. Being myself a student of Kobayashi Kiyohiro Sensei, the manager of Takuamaki and of Chiba Tsugutaka Sensei, its honorary director, it was very interesting to see the specifics of the work of these two instructors whom I had never practiced with.

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujtsu demonstrated by Mori Hakaru Sensei and Kawabe Takeshi Sensei

Enshin Ryu Iai Suemono Giri Kenpo

Enshin Ryu Iai Suemono Giri is a school developed by Hayami Naga Mon Mori Enshin, a bodyguard of the Emperor Ogimachi (1557-1586).

Enshin Ryu Iai Suemono Giri Kenpo demonstrated by its Soke Masumoto Takakazu

Wado-ryu Jujutsu Kempo

The Wado-ryu Karate style was created in 1934 by Hironori Otsuka based on his knowledge of Shotokan Karate and Shindo Yoshin-ryu jujutsu. His son and successor, Hironori Otsuka II demonstrated the techniques of Wado-ryu against several types of attacks either with bare hands, or weapons.

Wado-ryu Jujutsu Kempo demonstrated by Otsuka Hironori II

Bokuden-ryu Kenjutsu

The Bokuden-ryu is a Kenjutsu school founded by Tsukahara Bokuden (1489-1571), a practitioner of Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto-ryu who was the instructor of Shogun Yoshiteru Ashikawa. The central concept of the school is to "fight without hands" and one of the stories circulating about Bokuden tells of a time when he was challenged to a duel, Bokuden arranged for the fight to take place on an island and once his opponent got off the boat, he pushed the boat back to sea and left him alone on the island.

Bokuden-ryu Kenjutsu demonstrated by its Soke Koyama Hidehiro

Owari Kan-ryu Sojutsu

The Owari Kan-ryu was founded in 1671 by Tsuda Gonnojo Taira Nobuyuki (1654-1698) from the province of Owari in the Nagoya area. The specificity of kuda-yari (管 枪, litt. tube spear) of Owari Kan-ryu is the presence of the kuda, a metal tube section that moves freely around the stick to allow easy launch and instant removal of the spear.

Owari Kan-ryu Sojutsu demonstrated by its Soke Kato Isao

Mizoguchi-ha Itto-ryu Kenjutsu

The Mizoguchi-ha is a branch of the Itto-ryu founded by Mizoguchi Shingoemon Masakatsu, who was a student of the second Soke of Ono-ha Itto-ryū, Ono Jiroemon Tadatsune. Although the Mizoguchi-ha techniques originated from those of Ono-ha Itto-ryu, they are in fact very distinct and one can be excused for thinking that the two arts have no relationship, even though in reality, they are indeed. Also, although the Mizoguchi-ha is native of the Aizu clan, it is actually Ono-ha Itto-ryu that Takeda Sokaku studied, not the Mizoguchi-ha, even though the common origin with that of Sokaku could leave us thinking otherwise.

Mizoguchi-ha Itto-ryu Kenjutsu demonstrated by Naganuma Sensei

Hasegawa-ryu Yawara-jutsu

The Hasegawa-ryu is a form of jujustu (also called yawara) created by Hasegawa Hidenobu in the early Edo period. The current Soke is Kuwahara Sensei, whose students were responsible for the demonstration.

Hasegawa-ryu Yawara-jutsu

Kashima Shinto-ryu Kenjutsu

Kashima Shinto-ryu is a school that, like Bokuden-ryu Kenjutsu, finds its origin in the art of Tsukahara Bokuden. Bokuden's ancestors were guardians of the Kashima Shrine as well as competent swordsmen in the Katori Shinto-ryu style. It is from this legacy that Bokuden drew his incredible technique.

Kashima Shinto-ryu Kenjutsu demonstrated by its current Soke Yoshikawa Tsuenetaka

Yagyu Shingan-ryu Kacchu Heiho

The Yagyu-ryu Shingan-ryu is a Heiho (strategy) school founded during the Edo period by Takenaga Hayato. The school emphasizes the ancient techniques of soldiers wearing armor.

Yagyu Shingan-ryu Kacchu Heiho demonstrated be Hoshi Hirofumi

Guillaume Erard
Author: Guillaume Erard
A resident of Japan for nearly a decade, Guillaume Erard trains at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, where he received the 5th Dan from Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. He also holds a 3rd Dan in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, the secretive art that Morihei Ueshiba learned from Sokaku Takeda. Erard is the Information Director of the International Aikido Federation and the Deputy Secretary of International Affairs of the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Shikoku Headquarters. He is also passionate about science and education and holds a PhD in Molecular Biology.
More from this author:

© 2017 Guillaume Erard. All Rights Reserved.