What is Yagyu Shinkage Ryu?
Yagyu Shinkage Ryu
is a definitely one of the most well known and influential Kenjutsu styles.
The founder Yagyu Muneyoshi was a well respected swordsman in Yagyu, now a part of Nara prefecture, western Japan. His life took a new turn when he met and challenged legendary Kamiizumi Isenokami Nobutsuna
, the founder of Shinkage Ryu
Unable to even touch Nobutsuna, Muneyoshi decided to become his apprentice and soon became one of the top students. One of the "assignments" given to Muneyoshi was to perfect the technique of "Muto-dori" or sword take away techniques. After years of rigorous and dedicated training Munenori perfected the techniques and was chosen by Nobutsuna as a recipient of Shinkage Ryu.
Muto-dori is considered to be an ultimate expression of Japanese Martial Arts ideal " Katsujin-ken"or "life-saving sword" as it only neutralizes the attacker by taking his weapon away, but not take his life. Shinkage Ryu is also characterized by its flowing, graceful moves and it is known that one of Muneyoshi's son, Munenori studied Japanese traditional dance called Noh
in depth and its smooth ,unpredictable movements were adopted as one of the fundamental principles of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu. The style's reputation begin to grow when Munenori became a Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu's personal Kenjutsu instructor. It wasn't long till the style was selected as an official Kenjutsu style of Tokugawa Shogunate, great honor only to be followed by Ono-ha Ittoryu
After the death of Muneyoshi, the style was split in two with Yagyu
Hyogonosuke, whom Muneyoshi is said to have preferred due to Munenori
using the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu for his own purposes and to climb the
hierarchy of the Tokugawa Shogunate, heading the Main Owari line of the
Yagyu Shinkage Ryu style, while Munenori took over the Edo line. While
The Edo line is no longer headed by a descendant of the Yagyu family, it continues to be practiced by a small and faithful group of practitioners in Osaka under the Direction of the 17th headmaster Sono Seigo.