Katsumi Yonezawa  

A standout amongst the most noticeable practitioners of the art, Katsumi Yonezawa of Hokkaido, Japan, every year visits the United States to show this antiquated art. From the headquarters of the American extension of the Daito-Ryu Kodo Kai in San Luis Obispo, he travels all through California giving lectures and seminars.

A small man, Katsumi Yonezawa is a schoolteacher, and on the off chance that you neglect to recognize the thick wrists, you may believe that is all he is. He has an extremely disarming smile and tender way that tends to unwind people in his presence. His disciples have figured out how to disregard this, for they realize that he is still smiling while busily at work tying their arms into complex knots. Katsumi Yonezawa’s students have also figured out how to give careful consideration to how he acts before class. In the event that he sits at the edge of the mat holding up for class to start, there will be just the ordinary measure of torment. Be that as it may, on the off chance that he starts doing stretching exercises, students start taking a gander at one another and quietly moaning in expectation of some merciless throws. At the point when Katsumi Yonezawa really goes so far as to practice his ukemi, students start searching for a spot to cover up.

 

Katsumi Yonezawa

In spite of the fact that the conventional forms of aiki need a significant part of the liquid beauty of their more advanced cousins, they more than compensate for it with battle realism. The daito-ryu aikijujutsu thought of a decent preparing partner is someone who weighs around 300 pounds and has a grasp like a pressure driven vise. On the off chance that they can figure out how to toss someone like that, after he has been permitted to plant both feet and hold as tight as possible, they realize that the system truly works.

Daito-ryu aikijujutsu is not for everyone. It is just too physically requesting to ever be drilled by the extensive variety of students studying present day aikido. At the same time to those who are interested in the foundations of the martial art, it offers both a window into the past and an entryway to what’s to come. Daito-ryu aikijujutsu is a constant way, straight down the center of the majority of the current variations of aiki.

 

 

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Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu vs. Modern Aiki Styles

In spite of the fact that the customary forms of aiki need a great part of the liquid beauty of their more present day cousins, they more than compensate for it with battle realism. The daito-ryu aikijujutsu thought of a decent preparing partner is someone who weighs around 300 pounds and has a grasp like a water powered vise. On the off chance that they can figure out how to toss someone like that, after he has been permitted to plant both feet and hold as tight as possible, they realize that the system truly works.

The first thing that one may recognize when honing daito-ryu aikijujutsu is the force of the attacks. In most of the current aiki styles, the attacks have a tendency to be fairly soft. In the event that your preparation partner resists the method, he does so not with his arms yet by movement of his hips. In any case, in daito-ryu aikijujutsu preparing, the attacks are full power. At the point when your partner grabs your wrist, he does so with the proposition of attempting to avoid even the slightest movement of your hand. He grabs hard, securing each muscle his body, as in the event that he was attempting to crush the bone in your lower arm. Legitimate practice should result in a mass of finger-shaped bruises on your lower arm the following day.

The spiritual differences are similarly obvious. In the days of yore, masters used the terms aiki and kiai conversely. They considered aiki a strategy for spiritually overwhelming an adversary, and it was a part of numerous arts, especially kenjutsu(fencing). While most advanced styles consider aiki a process of tenderly mixing with an adversary so as to control him, daito-ryu aikijujutsu adheres to the customary approach and treats aiki as a compelling blast of spiritual vitality, minimal unique in relation to the karate kiai.

Takeda

 

When you hone a self-defense method, if your partner smiles, it is present day aikido. On the off chance that he screams, it is daito-ryu aikijujutsu.

 

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War Crimes and Bushido

 

The inhumanity and savagery shown by the Japanese soldiers towards the people of every race conquered by them between 1937 and 1945 is not an easy topic to explain. From mass, murder to mass rape, as in the case of the comfort women, sometimes involving some Korean Comfort Women, the Imperial soldiers have established a nasty reputation. In the acclaimed British BBC television documentary “Horror in the East” (2001), and the book based on it, Laurence Rees attempts to explain the countless atrocities committed by the Japanese in the course of their military aggression by reference to what he calls a “situational ethic”. In plain language, what he appears to be saying is that standards of behaviour are often shaped by context. If people live in a culture that is brutal and repressive, most of them will tend to conform to the standards of that culture. Rees then links the savage behaviour of the Imperial Japanese military between 1937 and 1945 to the brutality exhibited by the Nazi SS of Adolf Hitler and the communist armies of Josef Stalin.

The Samurai live by a code called Bushido

The samurai warrior class dominated the government and cultural life of Japan during seven centuries of military dictatorship until this class was abolished in 1869 following the restoration of Emperor Meiji as supreme leader of Japan in 1868 . The samurai warrior lived by a code called bushido that required unquestioning loyalty and obedience to his feudal lord, strict self-discipline, and fearlessness in battle. It was dishonourable for a samurai to be taken alive by an enemy, and samurai were expected to commit suicide rather than surrender. The code of bushido as practiced by the samurai encouraged compassion for a defeated enemy, and did not sanction the murder of babies by samurai warriors or the rape and murder of women.

Women were considered ‘spoils of war’ by Japanese soldiers during WW2

The values and attitudes incorporated in bushido did not die with the formal abolition of the samurai class because the emperor’s key advisers were samurai themselves. After the restoration of the emperor, bushido was adapted as an ethical code for the whole population with the emperor replacing the feudal lord, or daimyo, as the object of loyalty, obedience and sacrifice.

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Go Rin No Sho

The Book of Five Rings or Go Rin No Sho is a text on kenjutsu and the martial arts in general, written by the swordsman Miyamoto Musashi circa 1645. There have been various translations made over the years, and it enjoys an audience considerably broader than only that of martial artists: for instance, some business leaders find its discussion of conflict and taking the advantage to be relevant to their work. The modern-day Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū employs it as a manual of technique and philosophy.

A representation of the book

Musashi establishes a “no-nonsense” theme throughout the text. For instance, he repeatedly remarks that technical flourishes are excessive, and contrasts worrying about such things with the principle that all technique is simply a method of cutting down one’s opponent. He also continually makes the point that the understandings expressed in the book are important for combat on any scale, whether a one-on-one duel or a massive battle. Descriptions of principles are often followed by admonitions to “investigate this thoroughly” through practice rather than trying to learn them by merely reading.

 

Musashi describes and advocates a two-sword style (nitōjutsu): that is, wielding both katana and wakizashi, contrary to the more traditional method of wielding the katana two-handed. However, he only explicitly describes wielding two swords in a section on fighting against many adversaries. The stories of his many duels rarely refer to Musashi himself wielding two swords, although, since they are mostly oral traditions, their details may be inaccurate. Some suggest that Musashi’s meaning was not so much wielding two swords “simultaneously”, but rather acquiring the proficiency to (singly) wield either sword in either hand as the need arose. However, Musashi states within the volume that one should train with a long sword in each hand, thereby training the body and improving one’s ability to use two blades simultaneously, though the aim of this was only for training purposes and wasn’t meant to be a viable fighting style.

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The Legendary Duel

Sasaki Kojirō was a long-time rival of Miyamoto Musashi, and is considered the most challenging opponent Miyamoto ever faced. There are a number of accounts of the duel, varying in most details except the essentials, such as Sasaki’s defeat. The age of Sasaki is especially uncertain – the Nitenki says that during his childhood, he received the instruction of Toda Seigen, a master of the school of the short sword, and having been the partner of his master, he excelled him in the wielding of the long sword. After having defeated his master’s younger brother he left him to travel in various provinces. There he founded his own school, which was called Ganryu.

Statues depicting the legendary duel

The Nitenki’s account initially seems trustworthy, until it goes on to give the age of Sasaki at the time of the duel as 18 years old; it is known that two years earlier he had been a head weapons master for a fief – but then that would imply he had reached such a position at the age of 16, which is extremely improbable. A further complication is that Toda Seigen died in the 1590s. This unreliability of the sources means Sasaki’s age could have varied anywhere from his 20s to as late as his 50s. Even worse, a number of scholars contend that identifying Seigen as Sasaki’s teacher is a mistake, and that he was actually trained by a student of Seigen’s, Kanemaki Jisai.

Apparently, the young Miyamoto, at the time, around 29 years old, heard of Sasaki’s fame and asked Lord Hosokawa Tadaoki, through the intermediary of Nagaoka Sado Okinaga, a principal vassal of Hosokawa, to arrange a duel. Hosokawa assented, and set the time and place as 13 April 1612, on the comparatively remote island of Ganryujima of Funashima, the strait between Honshū and Kyūshū. The match was probably set in such a remote place because by this time Sasaki had acquired many students and disciples, and were Sasaki to have lost, they would probably have attempted to kill Miyamoto.

According to the legend, Miyamoto arrived more than three hours late, and goaded Sasaki by taunting him. When Sasaki attacked, his blow came as close as to sever Miyamoto’s chonmage. He came close to victory several times until, supposedly blinded by the sunset behind Miyamoto, Miyamoto struck him on the skull with his over sized bokken, or wooden sword, which was 110 centimeters long. Miyamoto supposedly fashioned the long bokken, a type called a suburitō due to its above-average length, by shaving down the spare oar of the boat in which he arrived at the duel with his wakizashi. Miyamoto had been late for the duel on purpose in order to psychologically unnerve his opponent, a tactic he used on previous occasions, such as during his series of duels with the Yoshioka swordsmen.

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Yoshioka-ryū

Yoshioka-ryū  is a koryū Japanese sword-fighting martial art and is part of the Kyohachi-ryū. The Yoshioka-ryū became famous during the latter half of the 16th century when Yoshioka Kenpo, the founder of Yoshioka-ryū, was assigned to be the sword instructor of the Ashikaga shoguns in Kyoto.

Ichijoji: The Last of the Yoshiokas II

The Yoshioka-ryū was founded in the first half of the Tenmon period (by Yoshioka Kenpo (Kenbo). Yoshioka Kenpo was originally a dyeworker and his family was famous for a special method to produce a unitary dark blue tone which could be produced in the same nuance every time. The tone was named after Yoshioka Kenpo and was called Kenpo-zome. Kenpo mastered his swordsmanship and developed his own fighting style which Kenpo led back to Kiichi Hogen’s style and teachings. Yoshioka Kenpo was renowned for his skills with the sword and became the official instructor of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshiharu (reigned from 1521–1545) in Kyoto.

But it is said that Yoshioka Kenpo had no honorable death. It is said that Kenpo was hurt incidentally with a stick by a Noh actor during a performance at the Shogun’s castle. Kenpo left the scenery humiliated. The shame for not being able to defend himself from the incidental attack of the actor was too great for the sword master and instructor of the shogun. Soon after, Kenpo came back and killed the actor in public with a sword which he had smuggled into the castle under his clothes. Since the usage of weapons of any kind was strictly forbidden at the court on pain of death, Kenpo was declared a criminal and pursued. Before Yoshioka Kenpo was killed, he killed many of his pursuers. Nonetheless, Yoshioka Kenpo had built the foundation for one of the most famous Kenjutsu ryū of Kyoto, led by his children and grandchildren. However, the Yoshioka-ryū did not last longer than four generations.

When the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru once started a comparison fight between the Yoshioka and Shinmen Munisai , father of Miyamoto Musashi. Munisai won 2:1. This battle caused a crucial feud between both families. Just one generation later, Miyamoto Musashi’s wins against Yoshioka Seijūrō and Yoshioka Denshichirō, and his assassination of Yoshioka Matashichiro ended the feud and led to the decline of the Yoshioka in 1604, as said by Nitenki, a historical record written by a student of Miyamoto Musashi.

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