The Meiji Restoration is one of the most significant periods in the history of Japanese martial arts because it symbolises the end of ancient Japan. In 1868 a government and political system was implemented to unify the country and abandon its feudal system. This lead to the end of the legendary warrior class known as samurai.
The terms koryu and kobudo literally mean “old school” or “old martial arts” and specifically refer to styles that were founded before the Meiji Restoration of 1868. These were the exact systems of combat that were practiced in the time of the samurai and remain relatively unchanged up to the present. Styles of martial arts that were created after the Meiji Restoration are refered to as gendai or modern styles.
There were previously hundreds of koryu but many have become extinct or absorbed into modern systems.
Kanoukan teaches 3 major koryu systems. Find out more in the sections below.
Shibukawa Ichi Ryu Jujutsu
The Shibukawa Ichi Ryu Jujutsu（澁川一流柔術) is a style that was born and developed in the Edo era in rural areas of the Hiroshima domain, Japan. It was founded by Shuto Kuranoshin Mitsutoki in the last days of Tokugawa shogunate. He moved to Saka village, Aki county, Hiroshima domain with his uncle Miyazaki Giemon Mitsuyoshi from Uwajima domain. Shuto Kuranoshin learned Shibukawa-ryu（渋川流）and Namba Ippo-ryu（難波一甫流）from his master Miyazaki Giemon, and he practiced Asayama Ichiden-ryu（浅山一伝流）elsewhere before he founded Shibukawa Ichi Ryu jujutsu. Therefore the name Shibukawa Ichi Ryu means Shibukawa Ippo Ichiden-Ryu.
One day Kuranoshin fought against six Hiroshima domain clansmen to keep his honor in the Hiroshima castle town. He won the fight with relative ease using his Shibukawa Ichi Ryu techniques. It happened that a Matsuyama domain clansman witnessed this fight and recommended that the Matsuyama domain samurai clan train with Kuranoshin (1839). After that, Kuranoshin started to teach Shibukawa Ichi Ryu in Matsuyama, Shikoku.
After the Meiji Restoration the townspeople of Saka village and other areas in Hiroshima prefecture had serious problems with ronin (unemployed/masterless samurai) who would often commit robberies in order to survive. The townspeople sought help from the military and local athorities but in many cases were told to fend for themselves.
It so happened that Shuto Kuranoshin often came back to Hiroshima prefecture because he had relatives who lived there, in Saka village. Kuranoshin passed on Shibukawa Ichi Ryu Jujutsu to his disciples in Hiroshima and it was often used as a means of self-defence. So Shibukawa Ichi Ryu was used by the townspeople of Hiroshima prefecture as well as the samurai of the Matsuyama clan in Shikoku.
In 1879 Shuto Kuranoshin died at the age of eighty-nine in Matsuyama.
Shibukawa Ichi Ryu Jujutsu is different from modern schools of jujutsu. In the Edo period samurai carried swords in their waists and crimes such as robberies were committed using knives. So jujutsu in the Edo period was not intended for competing with bare hands like the modern sport of judo. Instead, the basis of Shibukawa Ichi Ryu Jujutsu is self-defence. As practitioners progress they learn to protect themselves against a wide variety of weapons with their bare hands, including the sword, knives, staffs, short sticks and chains. Naturally, these techniques can be adapted to defend against unarmed opponents in modern situations. The style even has an unarmed sparring element called iji keiko, which is similar to judo's randori but it is important to remember that sporting contests are not the main focus of the style.
Shibukawa Ichi Ryu has over 400 techniques including weapon techniques. The style is officially recognised as a legitimate koryu (old-style pre 1867) of ancient Japan by the two main organisations for ancient budo in Japan, the Nihon Kobudo Kyokai and the Nihon Kobudo Shinkoukai. Morimoto taught Shibukawa Ichi Ryu jujutsu to Jacob Greasley of the Jikan Kai in the United Kingdom.
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Muso Shinden Eishin Ryu Iai Heiho
Iai is the art of drawing the sword from the saya (scabbard). At the moment the sword is drawn, the opponents are cut down. Muso Shinden Eishin-ryu Iai Heiho (MSERIH) was founded by Hayashizaki Jinsuke in the late 1500s. The art was first taught by Hayashi Rokudayu in Tosa domain during the Tokugawa period. At the beginning, the school was called Muso-ryu in Tosa domain. Then, after a while, our Iai school was called Muso Shinden Eishin-ryu Iai Heiho and the art was practised among the samurai of the Tosa domain. At the end of Edo era, Yamakawa Kyuzou was the most excellent swordsman in Tosa domain. He became the prime Iai instructor at a domain school named Chido-kan of the Tosa domain. Of his pupils, Shimomura Moichi was the most excellent swordsman. So he became the prime Iai instructor at the school as Yamakawa’s successor.
After the Meiji restoration, the Muso Shinden Eishin-ryu was taught by Hosokawa Yoshimasa. At the end of the Tokugawa period, he was a samurai in Tosa domain. He also practiced Mugai Ryu kenjutsu, Takenouchi Ryu jujutu (Kogusoku koshinomawari), Senshin-ryu sojutu and Koushu-ryu Tactics-strategy. Ueda Heitaro, who was a pupil of Hosokawa Yoshimasa, taught the art in Kagawa prefecture during Taisho and early Showa era. He was also an instructor of Shinto-ryu. Then Ogata Gouichi, the pupil of Ueda Heitaro, taught the art in Tokushima prefecture. He was also an instructor of Kanshin Ryu Kenjutsu. Later Umemoto Mitsuo, the pupil of Ogata Gouichi, taught the art in Hiroshima prefecture. Umemoto sensei taught Kunio Morimoto in Hiroshima. Morimoto taught MSERIH to Jacob Greasley of the Jikan Kai in the United Kingdom. At the Jikan Kai the techniques fall under the Eishin Ryu section of a much wider curriculum of Japanese weaponry called Dento Nihon Kobudo Jikan Kai.
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Oishi Shinkage Ryu Kenjutsu
Kenjutsu is sword fighting skills or simply, swordsmanship.
Oishi Shinkage Ryu（大石神影流）is a style of kenjutsu which was founded by Oishi Susumu Tanetugu in the early 1800s. He was taught Aisu Kage Ryu kenjutsu and Oshima Ryu Soujutsu (spearmanship) by his grandfather and his father. They are instructors of Yanagawa domain.
Oishi Susumu Tanetugu changed the method of training and founded Oishi Shinkage Ryu. He improved the protective equipment used which eventually became popular around Japan. In addition, he improved the fukuro shinai (bamboo sword covered with a bag) toto the one that is currently used. He devised unique stabbing techniques, and a technique of striking the opponent's breastplate. He taught with a sword that was longer than those of most other schools.
In 1832, by the order of his feudal lord Oishi went to the capital city, Edo (ancient Tokyo). Over the next year, he did kenjutsu matches with many famous instructors there but no one could beat him and he became very famous all around Japan. After this many samurai from all over Japan became his students.
His son inherited his school and he also went to Edo by the order of his feudal lord to do kenjutsu matches like his father. He had also excellent techniques and his name became very famous all over Japan like his father. His younger brother, Oishi Yukie inherited his school.
After the Meiji Restoration, Kenjutsu declined temporarily, but the practice in Oishi's dojo was prosperous. When Oishi Yukie died, his son Oishi Hajime was young, so his pupil Itai Masumi temporarily took over Oishi Shinkage Ryu. After Oishi Hajime grew up enough he instructed Oishi Shinkage-ryu. He was the principal of the high school, a village mayor and a city council member. Oishi Hajime taught Oishi Shinkage Ryu to his grandson, Oishi Eiichi and Oishi Eiichi taught Oishi Shinkage-ryu to Morimoto Kunio. Morimoto taught Oishi Shinkage Ryu to Jacob Greasley of the Jikan Kai in the United Kingdom. At the Jikan Kai the techniques fall under the Shinkage Ryu section of a much larger curriculum of Japanese weaponry called Dento Nihon Kobudo Jikan Kai.
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