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The Takeuchi- (or Takenouchi) ryu is one of Japan's oldest, verifiable, extant martial arts systems still being practiced. It is a sogo bujutsu: training encompasses a variety of weapons such as utilized by the classical ancient warriors of Japan, the bushi (or samurai).

The traditional date of the founding of the Takeuchi-ryu is 1532 A.C.E., some 480-odd years ago.

The founder, Takeuchi Hisamori, was the son of Takeuchi Yukiharu Harima No Kami. The Takeuchi was a noble family residing at Karasumaru Imadegawa in the imperial capitol of Kyoto. Hisamori became a samurai and castle lord of Ichinosejo Castle at the age of 29. According to family legends, Hisamori trained diligently in the family's sword arts from an early age.

In order to become a better swordsman, Hisamori underwent shugyo (austere training) at Sannomiya Shrine, Haga-gun for six days and nights. Late in the night on the sixth month (according to the old lunar calendar), 24th day, Hisamori fell asleep and was awakened by a vision.

According to the family legends, Hisamori saw a mystical yamabushi (mountain priest) descending from the sky on a cloud. The priest offered to teach Hisamori the essence of martial arts. Hisamori thrust his bokken (wooden training sword) at the apparition. The priest dodged the strike easily, threw Hisamori to the ground, and struck Hisamori at certain points on his body. Hisamori found that he could not rise to his feet.

The priest then took Hisamori's bokken and snapped it into two pieces, saying, "An overly long sword is not practical in combat. Take these and call them kogusoku."

Hisamori's vision

A reenactment of Takeuchi Hisamori learning kogusoku from the mysterious yamabushi (at the Ryusosai in Kyoto, 2011).

The priest then taught Hisamori how to subdue an opponent without killing him, called the "Shinden Torite Gokajo," the rope-binding methods, and the methods of the kogusoku; the short sword methods. The yamabushi trained Hisamori until the sun rose in the east, and then he disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared, admonishing Hisamori to train diligently to polish his skills.

Hisamori believed that he had been visited by a manifestation of the deity Atagosan, who dwelled at Mount Atago near Kyoto. Thus was born the Takeuchi-ryu.

(From the Choufukan's Shoden Mokuroku)


The three Takeuchi-ryu lines and dojo outside of Japan

The Takeuchi family carried on the martial tradition for generations along two lines, the soke and sodenke lines. Another line branched off to become the Bitchuuden, Bitchuu Takeuchi-ryu or Bitchuuke line. These three lines continue to this day to be the bearers of the Takeuchi-ryu tradition. In reckoning the lineage from Takeuchi Hisamori along the Bitchuuden line, Ono Yotaro is the 16th generation headmaster.

Shiraishi and Ono

The late Shiraishi Shingo, shihan (left) and Ono Yotaro sensei, at the Ryuusosai in 2010. Shiraishi shihan dramatized the founding of the ryu that year as the mysterious yamabushi. He was also an actual practitioner of Shugendo, which is the syncretic religious practices of the yamabushi.

Ono sensei has been instrumental in spreading Takeuchi-ryu beyond Japan. His students opened dojo in Tokyo, and many non-native Japanese have been accepted into the Tokyo and Kyoto dojo.

At present, the Bitchuuden Takeuchi-ryu has official dojo in England (under Anna Seabourne, the highest-ranking non-Japanese native student of the ryu), Canada (under Alex Kask), the United States (Antony Abry, and a study group under Andrew Antis) and Hawai'i (under Wayne Muromoto). To my knowledge, there are no other officially sanctioned Takeuchi-ryu dojo or master teachers outside of Japan besides these teachers or their representatives.

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