Welcome to the Official Website of Yagyū Shingan-ryū Taijutsu
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 ancient lineages of Yagyū Shingan-ryū; "Heihō", headquartered in Sendai Prefecture (under the leadership of Hoshi Kunio II, 14th generation headmaster) and "Taijutsu", headquartered in Tochigi Prefecture (under the leadership of Kajitsuka Yasushi, 11th generation headmaster). Both organizations are recognized by the Nihon Kobudō Kyōkai & Nihon Kobudō Shinkōkai.
Jūjutsu (unarmed combat)
Jūjutsu 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.
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 the taijutsu curriculum.
Bōjutsu (staff fighting techniques)
Yagyū Shingan-ryū Taijutsu uses a long staff (6ft～7ft in length). Samurai staff fighting techniques generally use the full length of the staff, gripping it at one end. In comparison, arts of Chinese origin, such as those found in Okinawa, tend to grip the staff in the center (short range). Yagyū Shingan-ryū staff 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.
Naginatajutsu (glaive fighting techniques)
The naginata is a traditional pole weapon with a curved blade attached to one end. In Yagyū Shingan-ryū Taijutsu, the naginata curriculum is an extension of our bōjutsu training, which also interrelates with other arts, such as spearmanship (sojutsu).
Iaijutsu (sword drawing and cutting techniques)
Iaijutsu is the art of safely and effectively drawing, cutting and sheathing the Samurai sword (katana) during combat.
Hojōjutsu (rope arresting techniques)
Hojojutsu is the samurai art of arresting an opponent by use of rope or cord.
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-do. 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 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 both peace and prosperity. Samurai in the ancient capital of Edo (Tokyo) wore kimono and hakama. Today, we wear durable judōgi and hakama. Traditional sandals known as zori are worn on the feet, and a white head-cloth, lined with an iron plate (insert) is worn to protect the head. 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 the traditional armored applications, as well as practical modern applications.