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The Origins of Jukendo: Bayonet Combat in Japan

Ⅰ Introduction

Jukendo, the Japanese art of bayonet combat has its origins in western countries. Therefore, the history of jukendo is very different from kendo, judo, kyudo and so on. Shuhan TAKASHIMA (1798–1866) introduced bayonet combat to Japan for the first time after he had studied western gunnery through Dutch books and learned from Dutchmen in Dejima, Nagasaki at the end of Edo period.

The purpose of this study is to clarify how bayonet combat was practiced and how it was changed before the Meiji Restoration.

Ⅱ Shuhan TAKASHIMA and Takashima Ryu Hojutsu, The Takashima School of Gunnery

Russia plundered Etrofu island in 1768. As a result, the Tokugawa shogunate built 7 new gun batteries in Nagasaki and let local officials guard them. One of the local officials was the father of Shuhan TAKASHIMA.

Shuhan TAKASHIMA studied western gunnery through Dutch books and learned from Dutchmen in Dejima, Nagasaki. He imported guns and canons from Netherlands and founded Takashima ryu hojutsu, the Takashima School of Gunnery in 1835. When the Opium War broke out in 1839, he advised the Shogunate on the defense of the Western gunnery. Tadakuni MIZUNO, roju (senior councilor of the Tokugawa shogunate) decided to observe the western gunnery. Shuhan TAKASHIMA lead the training in Tokumarugahara. In that training, the use of the bayonet was carried out publicly for the first time in Japan.

Ⅲ Development of Takashima Ryu Hojutsu and Bayonet Combat

Shuhan Takashima had disciples before the practice in Tokumarugahara. Keita IKEBE of the Higo feudal clan, Juzaemon NABESHIMA of the Saga feudal clan and Heihichi Torii of the Satsuma feudal clan were his students. They developed Takashima ryu hojutsu in each of their feudal clans. Additionally, after the training in Tokumarugahara, Takashima ryu hojutsu was taught to two of the shogun’s retainers, Tarozaemon EGAWA and Kinzaburo SHIMOSONE. The practice of western gunnery advanced based on the study of a Dutch book on military tactics.

Tarozaemon Egawa changed Dutch command words into Japanese commands called Eiongourei. Hence the new Japanese bayonet combat started the use of Japanese command words. Commands such as “TUKE”, “ MIGIWO FUSEGW” and “ HIDARIWO FUSEGE” were made in those days and used after the Meiji Restoration. The practice of bayonet combat was done individually by these commands. It was like solo kata training.

Ⅳ Japanization of Bayonet Combat

Shinsaku TAKAUGI (1839 – 1867) of Choshu domain wrote down in his Heihoumondouho about the bayonet combat in 1860. He said “The quality of western bayonets are bad, so we should use Japanese spearhead for bayonets instead. The western techniques of the bayonet combat are poor, so we should use Japanese techniques of spearmanship instead. That would make bayonet combat more effective.”

Ⅴ Conclusions

Shuhan TAKASHIMA introduced bayonet combat to Japan. The origins of jukendo were from the Edo period and Japanese commands were created at the end of Edo period. Ideas for Japanese modifications were also born in Edo period. However, the Japanese modifications to jukendo only began in the Meiji era.

#jukendo #nihonbudo

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