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HISTORY

Sokaku Takeda

Sokaku Takeda

Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu... 

is a 1,200-year-old samurai martial art and National Treasure of Japan. Its core principles focus on subtle manipulations of balance that can complement and enrich any martial arts training. Daito Ryu is not just a set of techniques, but a mindset that can transform budo practice.

Once secret and passed generation to generation through the Takeda clan, the system of Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu was revived in the late 19th century by Sokaku Takeda, 32nd in line of the Takeda family. Takeda taught throughout Japan using a seminar system to spread the art. In the early 20th century he taught thousands of Japan’s highest ranked martial artists from Judo, Kenjutsu, Jujutsu and Karate.

It has directly influenced the development of many popular martial arts, such as Shorinji Kempo, Hakko Ryu Jujutsu, Hapkido and most famously Aikido, whose founder Morihei Ueshiba trained extensively in Daito Ryu.  


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Origins

Shinra Minamoto Yoshimitsu (1056-1127)

Shinra Minamoto Yoshimitsu (1056-1127)

Daito Ryu is believed to have originated within the family of the 9th century Emperor Seiwa and developed by one of the emperor's descendants, Shinra Saburo Minamoto no Yoshimitsu in the 11th century. Yoshimitsu made a careful study of human anatomy by examining bodies on battlefields and execution grounds to determine the most effective strikes, blows, holds, joint locks, and pins. He also spent hours observing a female spider trapping prey in her web. Yoshimitsu incorporated all of this knowledge into the martial art he had been taught by his family members, and in turn passed on this improved and expanded system to his sons. This system came to be known as the “Daito Ryu,” or “Great Eastern Style” after the name of a family mansion in present-day Shiga Prefecture.

Yoshikiyo, Yoshimitsu's eldest son, settled in the village of Takeda in Koma (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) and founded the Takeda branch of the Minamoto clan. The Daito Ryu tradition of Yoshimitsu was handed down in complete secrecy through generations of the Takeda family. Near the end of the 16th century, the family shifted its main base to the Aizu district (present-day Fukushima Prefecture). There, the system became known as o-shiki-uchi, or "the palace art," and alternatively as an o-tome-bujutsu, or "inside-the-clan martial art." The art was secretly transmitted to the samurai of the Aizu domain until the fall of the Shogunate in the Boshin War of 1868-1869.

Sokaku Takeda...

Horikawa Kodo...


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Sokaku Takeda

Sokaku Takeda circa 1890

Sokaku Takeda circa 1890

Sokaku Takeda (1859-1943)

Daito Ryu did not became widely known until the 19th century, when martial arts genius Sokaku Takeda began to teach it publicly. Sokaku was born in 1859 in Aizu during the last days of the age of the samurai. He received instruction in the traditional o-shiki-uchi arts of the Aizu clan from his relatives and from Tanomo Saigo (the last minister of the Aizu domain, 1830-1903). Sokaku is considered the 35th Grand Master of the Daito Ryu tradition. In addition to the Daito Ryu system, Sokaku studied several other martial arts including sumo, Hozoin Takada-ha Sojutsu spear, Onoha Itto-ryu sword, and Jikishinkage-ryu sword. He acquired firsthand combat experience in street fights all over the country.

 
Tanomo Saigo/Chikanori Hoshina (1830-1903)

Tanomo Saigo/Chikanori Hoshina (1830-1903)

Around the turn of the century, Sokaku began teaching the Daito Ryu system to select groups of military officers, police officials and aristocrats through seminars. Sokaku was based in Hokkaido, Japan’s remote northern island, but traveled through the country to teach. In the course of his travels, Sokaku defeated all challengers, including high ranking Judoka, and experienced fighters from a variety of arts. It is said that 30,000 martial artists received instruction at Sokaku's hands. Of this vast number, only twenty or so received formal teaching licenses from the Daito Ryu Grand Master. Several of Sokaku's students themselves became extremely distinguished teachers, founding new branches of Daito Ryu: Takumakai from Hisa Takuma, Kodokai from Kodo Horikawa, the techniques of Yukiyoshi Sagawa, as well as the techniques of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido.

Daito Ryu is the father of many Japanese martial arts. Stanley Pranin (Chief Editor of Aikido Journal and a high-ranking Aikidoka) states, "categorically the major influence on the development of Aikido is Daito Ryu, and it is difficult to find a movement in Aikido that does not originate in Takeda's jujutsu form.” 

Origins...

Horikawa Kodo...

 

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Horikawa Kodo

Horikawa Kodo

Horikawa Kodo

Horikawa Kodo (1894-1980)

Kodo Kai is a branch of Daito Ryu founded by Horikawa Kodo in 1950. Born in 1894 in Kitami, Hokkaido, Kodo began Daito Ryu Jujutsu training at the age of 11, first under his father, then continuing directly under Sokaku Takeda himself.  

Sokaku taught Kodo according to his body type (Kodo was 4' 11" tall) over a period of many years until Takeda's death in 1945. Sokaku specifically told him that he needed to master "Aiki" because of his short stature and instructed him mostly in the Aiki principles as a result. Kodo's techniques came to be known as very subtle, effective, and strong. Thus, it is said that Horikawa's Kodokai emphasizes Aiki over strength to execute the higher-level techniques. 

In 1930 Kodo received the certificate of "Acting Instructor" or Kyoju Dairi from Takeda. Still, Kodo continued his training for six hours a day. One year later, he received the certificate of Hiden Mokuroku "The Secret Essence" - and a month after that, the final certificates of Hiden Ogi Mokuroku "The Secret Essence of Mysteries" and the Hi Ogi no Koto — "The Secret Essence of Aiki". He received permission to become a Shihan at age 37. The final certificate, the Daito Ryu no Menkyo Kaiden was awarded to him years later. In 1950 he established the Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Kodo Kai in Hokkaido. In 1974 Kodo Horikawa received the Eisei Meijin "Order of Eternal Mastership", which is the highest title of the Budo society. Kodo Horikawa perished in 1980. 

Origins...

Sokaku Takeda...