Monday, 10th January 2011

MSMAS Sempai writes a compilation piece on Daito Ryu ....

Alexander Khlemanov is a 1st Kyu Sempai at MSMAS. Born in Moscow, Russia and educated at the Moskovskij Inženerno-Fiziceskij Institut (Gosudarstvennyj Universitet) he holds a M.Sc. in Experimental Nuclear Physics, High Energy Physics & Astrophysics.


Alex came to the UK in 1999 and has resided in West Sussex, Hampshire and East Sussex. Interested in Oriental cultures from the age of 15 he began practice of the Martial Arts from the age of 8 including Sambo, Kung-Fu, Ju-Jutsu, Karate, Aikido and Sobor before joining MSMAS to train in Aikido, Judo and Iaido.

Although always extremely interested in the practical application of MA techniques, in the last 7 years his interests have migrated more towards historical and philosophical aspects of MA, though the interest in the practical techniques still very strong.

Alex also pratices Aikido at MSMAS, details of which can be foseen at

There now follows his compilation piece on Daito Ryu...

The origins of Daito-ryu maintain a direct lineage extending approximately 900 years, originating with Shinra Saburo Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (1045–1127), who was a Minamoto clan samurai and member of the Seiwa Genji (the branch of the Minamoto family descended from the 56th imperial ruler of Japan, Emperor Seiwa). Daito-ryu takes its name from the mansion where the main shrine of Yoshimitsu family was located, called "Daito", in Omi Province (modern day Shiga Prefecture). According to legend, Yoshimitsu dissected the corpses of men killed in battle, studying their anatomy for the purpose of learning techniques for joint-locking and vital point striking (kyusho-jitsu).

After death of Yoshimitsu his son Yoshikiyo becomes the patriarch of the style. Yoshikiyo moves to Kai Province (modern day Yamanashi Prefecture) and changes the family name to Takeda which has been the name of the family to the present day. The Takeda family remained in Kai Province until the time of Takeda Shingen (1521–1573). Shingen opposed Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga in their campaign to unify and control all of Japan. With the death of Shingen and his heir, Takeda Katsuyori (1546–1582), the Takeda family relocated to the Aizu domain (an area comprising the western third of modern day Fukushima Prefecture). From this moment on Daito-ryu aiki-jutsu is also known under its new name – Aizu-Todome.
The move to Aizu and subsequent events profoundly shaped what would emerge as Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in the 19th century. One important event was the adoption of Tokugawa Ieyasu's grandson, Komatsumaru (1611–1673), by Takeda Kenshoin (fourth daughter of Takeda Shingen). Komatsumaru devoted himself to the study of the Takeda family's martial arts, and was subsequently adopted by Hoshina Masamitsu. Komatsumaru changed his name to Hoshina Masayuki, and in 1644 was appointed the governor of Aizu. As governor, he mandated that all subsequent rulers of Aizu study the arts of Ono-ha Itto-ryu (which he himself had mastered), as well as the art of Oshikiuchi, a martial art which he developed for shogunal counselors and retainers, tailored to conditions within the palace. These arts became incorporated into and coming led with the Takeda family martial arts.

According to the traditions of Daito-ryu, it was these arts which Takeda Sokaku began teaching to non-members of the family in the late 19th century after moving to Hokkaido. Takeda had also studied swordsmanship and spearmanship with his father, Takeda Sokichi, as well as Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu as an uchi-deshi (live-in student) under the renowned swordsman Sakakibara Kenkichi.

Takeda Sokaku's third son, Tokimune Takeda (Takeda Tokimune, 1916–1993), became the headmaster of the art following Sokaku's death in 1943. Tokimune taught what he called "Daito-ryu Aikibudo", an art that included the sword techniques of the Ono-ha Itto-ryu along with the traditional techniques of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. It was also under Tokimune's headmastership that modern dan rankings were first created and awarded to the students of Daito-ryu. Tokimune Takeda died in 1993 leaving no official successor, but a few of his high-ranking students, such as Katsuyuki Kondo (Kondo Katsuyuki, 1945–) and Shigemitsu Kato, now head their own Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu organizations.


Aiki-jujutsu is a form that can be broken into three styles: Jujutsu (hard/ soft); Aiki no Jutsu (soft); and Aikijujutsu (soft) which is the combination of the former two. Modern Japanese Jujutsu and Aikido both are styles that originate in Aikijujutsu. It emphasizes "an early neutralization of an attack." Like other forms of jujutsu, it emphasizes throwing techniques and joint manipulations to effectively control, subdue, or injure an attacker. Of particular importance is the timing of a defensive technique to either blend or neutralize an incoming attack's effectiveness and use the force of the attacker's movement against them. Daito-ryu is characterized by ample use of atemi, or the striking of vital areas, in order to set up jointlocking or throwing tactics.

Some of the art's striking methods employ the swinging of the outstretched arms to create power and to hit with the fists at deceptive angles, as may be observed in techniques such as the atemi that sets up gyaku ude-dori (reverse elbow lock). Tokimune Takeda regarded one of the unique characteristics of the art to be its preference for controlling a downed attacker's joints with one's knee in order to leave one's hands free to access one's weapons or to deal with the threat of other oncoming attackers.



Currently, there are a number of organizations that teach Daito-ryu, each tracing their lineage back to Takeda Sokaku through one of four of his students. Those four students are: Takeda Tokimune, the progenitor of the Tokimune branch; Takuma Hisa (Hisa Takuma, 1895–1980), of the Hisa branch; Kodo Horikawa (Horikawa Kodo, 1894–1980), of the Horikawa branch; and Yukiyoshi Sagawa (Sagawa Yukiyoshi, 1902–1998), of the Sagawa branch.


The Tokimune branch descends from the teachings of Tokimune Takeda, the son of Takeda Sokaku, and designated successor of Daito-ryu upon the father's death. When Tokimune died, he had not appointed a successor; there are two main groups that carry on his teachings.

The first group is led by Katsuyuki Kondo, who began his training under Tsunejiro Hosono and continued training under Kotaro Yoshida (Yoshida Kotaro, 1883–1966) for a time, before being introduced to Tokimune. On the basis of the high level teaching licenses Kondo was granted by Tokimune, his followers represent his school as the Daito-ryu 'mainline.' Kondo has done much to increase the visibility of the art by hosting seminars both in Tokyo and abroad, especially in the United States.

The second group from the Tokimune branch is headed by Shigemitsu Kato and Gunpachi Arisawa, who are long-time students and teachers from Tokimune's original Daitokan headquarters in Hokkaido. This organization is called the Nihon Daito Ryu Aikibudo Daito Kai (Nihon Daito-ryu Aikibudo Daito Kai). They maintain a smaller organization in Hokkaido, with strong connections to practitioners in Europe (especially Italy), the United States, and Brazil.

The second major branch of Daito-ryu is represented by students of Takuma Hisa. His students banded together and founded the Takumakai. They have a wealth of materials in the form of film and still photographs, taken at the Asahi Newspaper dojo, recording the Daito-ryu techniques taught to them, first by Morihei Ueshiba and then later by Takeda Sokaku directly. One of their major training manuals, called the Soden, features techniques taught to them by both masters.

The Takumakai represents the second largest aiki-jujutsu organization. In the 1980s, led by Shogen Okabayashi (Okabayashi Shogen, born 1949), who was sent by the elderly Hisa to train under the headmaster, the Takumakai made a move to implement the forms for teaching the fundamentals of the art as originally established by Tokimune Takeda. This move upset some preservers of Hisa's original teaching method, leading to the formation of a new organization called the Daibukan, founded by a long term student of Hisa, Kenkichi Ohgami (Ogami Kenkichi, born 1936). Later, in order to implement greater changes to the curriculum, Okabayashi himself chose to separate from the Takumakai and formed the Hakuho-ryu.


The Horikawa branch descends from the teachings of Kodo Horikawa. A few organizations have been formed based on his teachings.

The Kodokai was founded by students of Horikawa, whose distinctive interpretation of aiki movements can be seen in the movements of his students. The Kodokai is located in Hokkaido and is headed by Yusuke Inoue (Inoue Yasuke, born 1932). Both Inoue's father and his main teacher, Horikawa, were direct students of Takeda Sokaku. Inoue received his teaching license (Menkyo Kaiden) in accordance with Horikawa's final wishes.

There are two major teachers who branched off from the Kodokai to establish their own traditions. The first was Seigo Okamoto (Okamoto Seigo, born 1925) who founded the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Roppokai. His interpretation of aiki and minimal movement throws have proved very popular. The organization has a great following abroad, especially in the United States and Europe. The other group was that of Katsumi Yonezawa (Yonezawa Katsumi, 1937–1998), who founded his own organization, called the Bokuyokan.

In the early 1970s, while Yonezawa was still a senior teacher at the Kodokai, he was the first person to bring Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu to the United States and Canada. The Bokuyokan is currently run by his son Hiromitsu Yonezawa (Yonezawa Hiromitsu), headquartered in Hokkaido, with a following at the Yonezawa dojo and several branches in the United States, as well as a dojo in Germany.

The last major group consists of students of Yukiyoshi Sagawa (Sagawa Yukiyoshi, 1902–1998). Sagawa, an extremely conservative teacher, ran only a single dojo and taught a relatively small number of students. He began studying Daito-ryu under Takeda Sokaku in 1914 after first learning the art from his father, Sagawa Nenokichi (1867–1950), who was also a student of Sokaku and a holder of a kyoju dairi (teaching license) in the system. Although considered by many to be one of the most accomplished students of Sokaku, Yukiyoshi received the kyoju dairi in 1932—but did not receive the menkyo kaiden (certificate of mastery) of the system's secrets, as during the time he practised under Takeda Sokaku, the highest licence was not the menkyo kaiden. Sagawa often served as a teaching assistant to Takeda and traveled with him to various locations in Japan teaching Daito-ryu. He is said to have remained powerful in the art until very late in life, and was featured in a series of articles in the Aiki News magazines prior to his death in 1998.

Tatsuo Kimura (Kimura Tatsuo, born 1947), a mathematics professor at the University of Tsukuba and a senior student of Sagawa, runs a small aiki-jujutsu study group at that institution. He has written two books about his training under Sagawa: Transparent Power and Discovering Aiki.

Classification of techniques.

Daito-ryu techniques involve both jujutsu and aiki-jujutsu applications. Techniques are broken up into specific lists which are trained sequentially; that is, a student will not progress to the next "catalogue" of techniques until he/she has mastered the previous one. Upon completion of each catalogue, a student is awarded a certificate or scroll that lists all of the techniques of that level. These act as levels of advancement within the school, and was a common system among classical Japanese martial arts schools before the era of belts, grades, and degrees.

The first category of techniques in the system, the shoden waza, is not devoid of aiki elements, though it emphasizes the more direct jujutsu joint manipulation techniques. The second group of techniques, the aiki-no-jutsu, tends to emphasize the utilization of one's opponent's movement or intention in order to subdue him/her—usually with a throwing or a pinning technique. A list of the catalogues in the Tokimune branch's system and the number of techniques contained within follows:

Catalogue ~ Name ~ No. of Techniques
Secret Syllabus ~ Hiden Mokuroku ~ 118
The Science of Joining Spirit ~ Aiki-no-jutsu ~ 53
Inner Mysteries ~ Hiden Ogi ~ 36
Techniques of Self Defense ~ Goshin'yo-no-te ~ 84
Explanation of the Inheritance ~ Kaishaku Soden ~ 477
License of Complete Transmission ~ Menkyo Kaiden ~ 88

Officially, the Daito-ryu system is said to comprise thousands of techniques, divided into omote and ura (literally, 'front' and 'back' versions), but many of these could be seen as variations upon the core techniques. In addition, Sokaku and Tokimune awarded scrolls denoting certain portions of the curriculum, such as techniques utilizing the long and short sword.

To the list above, the Takumakai adds the "Daito-ryu Aiki Nito-ryu Hiden". The Takumai also makes substantial use of the photographic documents of techniques taught at the Asahi Newspaper dojo by Morihei Ueshiba and Takeda Sokaku, which are compiled into a series of 11 training manuals called the Soden.

Today, Daito-ryu is the most widely practised school of traditional Japanese jujutsu in Japan. The significant interest in this martial art, which has much in common with the many less popular classical Japanese jujutsu schools, is probably due largely to the success of Takeda Sokaku's student Morihei Ueshiba, and the art that he founded, aikido. Aikido is practised internationally and has hundreds of thousands of adherents. Many of those interested in aikido have traced the art's origins back to Daito-ryu, which has increased the level of interest in an art which was otherwise virtually unknown a few decades before.

Related arts.

The concept of aiki is an old one, and was common to other classical Japanese schools of armed combat. There are some other styles of Japanese jujutsu that use the term aiki-jujutsu, but there are no records of its use prior to the Meiji era. Many modern schools influenced by aikido presently utilize the term to describe their use of aikido-like techniques with a more combative mindset.

There are a number of martial arts in addition to aikido which appear, or claim, to be descended from the art of Daito-ryu or the teachings of Takeda Sokaku. Among them are: the Korean martial art of hapkido founded by Choi Yong Sul, who as an orphan in Japan was trained and raised under Takeda Sokaku; Hakko-ryu, founded by Okuyama Yoshiharu, who trained under Takeda Sokaku; and Shorinji Kempo, founded by Nakano Michiomi (later known as So Doshin), who is known to have trained under Okuyama. Many techniques from Hakko-ryu are similar to the techniques of Daito-ryu.




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