The Birth of the Original Swordsmanship School


Once upon a time, two original schools of swordsmanship “Kenjutsu" were born in Japan.
They are the “Togoku Shichi Ryu" and the “Kyo Hachi Ryu".

Togoku Shichi Ryu

Kashima Jingu Shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture and Katori Jingu Shrine in Chiba Prefecture, located in the Eastern part of Japan today, have long been worshiped by Budo practitioners as the gods of martial arts.

1,600 years ago, the Shinto priest “KuninazunoMahito" of “Kashima Jingu" received a message from God and created a new style of swordsmanship. This swordsmanship is called “Kashima no Tachi".

Kashima Shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture.

“Kashima no Tachi" has been handed down to the Shinto priests of “Kashima Jingu" and “Katori Jingu" for generations and developed. Eventually, “Kashima no Tachi" came to be called “Togoku Shichi Ryu" = “Eastern Country’s Seven Styles" as swordsmanship passed down by seven Shinto priests.

The birth story of “Kashima no Tachi" is a legend, but there were many people in the Kanto region who were good at swordsmanship from before the 10th century. During the civil war in Japan in the 15th century, a very important swordsmanship school was born based on this “Kashima no Tachi".

As an aside, the reason why people bow to the front at the beginning and end of practice in modern martial arts dojos is that the gods of “Kashima Jingu" and “Katori Jingu" were enshrined in front of the old Japanese martial arts dojos. And at the beginning and end of practice, I thanked God. Even now, many Japanese martial arts dojos have gods enshrined in front of them.

Kyo Hachi Ryu

Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan. Kyoto was the capital of the emperor and the center of power. Therefore, many samurai gathered there. The school of swordsmanship that was born in Kyoto is called “Kyo Hachi Ryu". = “Kyoto Eight Styles".

The birth story of “Kyo Hachi Ryu" is also colored with many legends. In the 12th century, Onmyoji named “Kiichi Hogen" appeared in Kyoto. This man excelled in tactics, strategy, and combat. He taught many techniques and wisdom to the priests of Kurama Temple in Kyoto. Eight monks of Kurama Temple created the “Kyo Hachi Ryu" based on how to use the sword that was handed down at that time.

When “Minamoto no Yoshitsune", a 12th-century Japanese samurai and hero, was a child, he trained at Kurama Temple. And there is a legend that he also learned the swordsmanship of this “Kyo Hachi Ryu".

Scene in which Minamoto no Yoshitsune in his childhood fights against a bandit boss. From “Yoshitoshi Mushaburui” by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

“Kyo Hachi Ryu" is no longer left. However, like “Kashima no Tachi", “Kyo Hachi Ryu" is also the base of a very important school of swordsmanship.

As an aside, one of the “Kyo Hachi Ryu" styles is the “Yoshioka style". This school’s master was Seijuro Yoshioka. And he was the first important rival of the famous sword master Miyamoto Musashi.