Togakure year's theme

kagemaru74

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One question from me :
But during this year my shidoshi should let me see something 'bout togakure or just bases??
My rank is 1st kyu!
Please let me know what you think!
Grateful to any answer
Kage
 

Dale Seago

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One question from me :
But during this year my shidoshi should let me see something 'bout togakure or just bases??
My rank is 1st kyu!
Please let me know what you think!
Grateful to any answer
Kage

Well, obviously that's up to him or her. ;)

Some things to consider, though:

Hatsumi sensei has written, IIRC, that kosshijutsu and koppojutsu are foundational to ninjutsu fighting methods of the Iga region.

That doesn't automatically mean that the various ryuha operating in the area all learned Gyokko and Koto ryu; but it seems to indicate that these are representative of the types of martial arts they learned.

In "our" particular case (Togakure ryu) Gyokko and Koto ryu appear to have been used as the foundation, with the particular "intelligence agent" applications/specializations of Togakure ryu being layered on top of those. If you look at the third of the "Escaping Rat" taijutsu forms, for example (the one where you're grabbed at the nape of the neck from behind), the actual "technique" with which it finishes clearly comes from -- or at least is also found in -- Gyokko ryu. (The Togakure densho actually begins with Gyokko ryu, then Koto ryu.)

I've heard Soke say more than once that one could learn the Togakure material (the formal/densho stuff as distinct from kuden) pretty quickly -- but that if this was all one learned, one would have little chance in a "stand-up fight" with a well-rounded bushi.

The way I often explain it is that the Togakure material is intended to be the dessert course of the banquet of one's martial education. . .don't mistake it for the meal!
 

Chris Parker

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Hi,
As Dale says, it is up to your instructor what they determine to teach you, based on what they feel is important to your personal journey and development in the arts. However, I get the feeling that you are also hoping for a "sneak peek" at what you can look forward to in the coming year...

For what it's worth, Togakure Ryu has long been a favourite school of mine, and as such, I have spent more than a little time exploring it to find my own Gokui within the school. Togakure Ryu has possibly the most unusual structure of all the Bujinkan schools. There are no striking defences, for instance, and virtually no completely unarmed techniques at all (only Sakki no Kata and the Hiden Kata... and weaponry is certainly not ruled out in these Kata). The core of the Taijutsu is known as Santo Tonso no Kata (the "Escaping Rat" forms), and consists of responses to grabs, and Muto Dori.

For my money, the basic idea of Togakure Ryu (and from most reports I have seen, it's [probable] close relative, Kumogakure Ryu) involves avoiding the conflict if at all possible. If that cannot be avoided, the idea is to suddenly shift/leap in from a distance to be in very close range to the opponent, perform your technique, then gain distance, and escape (most often utilising Metsubishi or shuriken to distract). There are other ideas in the school, of course, but this idea of hit-and-run with sudden changes in distancing have helped me in my understanding of the school as a whole.

One thing did confuse me with Dales' post, though... Dale, you mention that the Togakure Ryu Densho begins with Gyokko Ryu, then Koto Ryu... I haven't seen any version of the scrolls with the techniques from the other schools, although given their close and intermingled histories, the techniques of the various schools have a lot of similarities. Could you possibly elaborate on that idea?

With respect,
Chris Parker.
 

Dale Seago

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One thing did confuse me with Dales' post, though... Dale, you mention that the Togakure Ryu Densho begins with Gyokko Ryu, then Koto Ryu... I haven't seen any version of the scrolls with the techniques from the other schools, although given their close and intermingled histories, the techniques of the various schools have a lot of similarities. Could you possibly elaborate on that idea?

That comes from a couple of people who have looked through the densho of one of the shihan in Japan; I'd prefer not to elaborate further than that.

I don't believe it's realistic to think that Gyokko/Koto were associated with Togakure ryu any earlier than the 1500s. This is just off the top of my head, but I seem to recall Momochi Sandayu being listed as Soke of all three around the 1540s. If so, that would likely be the point where they were brought together.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Hey nice post Dale!
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Would you mind starting a thread on the kata's you are personally working on right now based on the theme of the year?
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Chris Parker

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Thanks for the answer Dale; in regards to the "close and intermingled histories" I refered to, I agree that the differing schools weren't together under one head until the 1500's (at the very earliest!), mainly because Koto wasn't officially founded until 1542 by Sakagami Taro Kunishige. I have seen Momochi Sandayu listed as Soke for both Koto Ryu and Gyokko Ryu, but not Togakure Ryu. From my understanding, the Togakure Ryu was brought under the same roof as the other schools when it came into the Toda family (also rumored in some sources I have seen as the founders of Kumogakure Ryu). However, the systems all share closely related sources. Gyokko Ryu founded by Hakuunsai Tozawa, said to be Soke of Hakuun Ryu; Togakure Ryu founded by Nishina Daisuke (Togakure Daisuke) after having been taught Hakuun Ryu by Kain Doshi (or Kagakure Doshi, or any of a couple of other names. Another possible founder is Shima Kosanta Minamoto no Kanesada, there are stories I have heard which are pretty much identical to the Daisuke story, just with Shima Kosanta's name in place. He is officially listed as the second Soke, though); and Koto Ryu being founded by Sakagami Taro Kunishige who was at the time the Soke of Gyokko Ryu. So, although Togakure Ryu and Koto Ryu are separated by a number of centuries, they share common ground in their basis, albeit with their own individual influences as well. BTW, I have also heard Togakure Ryu's form of Taijutsu refered to as Koppojutsu, just as Koto Ryu is, and the other three "breakaway" schools from Gyokko Ryu: Gikan Ryu (Koppotaijutsu), Gyokushin Ryu Ninjutsu (Koppojutsu), and Izumo Ryu Koppojutsu (since extinct).

With respect,
Chris Parker.
 

Dale Seago

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Thanks for the answer Dale; in regards to the "close and intermingled histories" I refered to, I agree that the differing schools weren't together under one head until the 1500's (at the very earliest!), mainly because Koto wasn't officially founded until 1542 by Sakagami Taro Kunishige.

Reorganized and "founded" as a school under that name, yes, but supposedly brought to Japan from Korea by a Chinese ("Chan Busho", an obviously Japanized name) in the late 10th or early 11th century. This is part of what I was getting at when I said that Iga region ninja didn't necessarily learn Gyokko and Koto ryu per se, but that these were representative of the types of arts (kosshijutsu and koppojutsu) they used.

I have seen Momochi Sandayu listed as Soke for both Koto Ryu and Gyokko Ryu, but not Togakure Ryu. From my understanding, the Togakure Ryu was brought under the same roof as the other schools when it came into the Toda family (also rumored in some sources I have seen as the founders of Kumogakure Ryu). However, the systems all share closely related sources. Gyokko Ryu founded by Hakuunsai Tozawa, said to be Soke of Hakuun Ryu; Togakure Ryu founded by Nishina Daisuke (Togakure Daisuke) after having been taught Hakuun Ryu by Kain Doshi (or Kagakure Doshi, or any of a couple of other names. Another possible founder is Shima Kosanta Minamoto no Kanesada, there are stories I have heard which are pretty much identical to the Daisuke story, just with Shima Kosanta's name in place. He is officially listed as the second Soke, though); and Koto Ryu being founded by Sakagami Taro Kunishige who was at the time the Soke of Gyokko Ryu.

Yep, looks like my memory was a bit off: the only Momochi I can find these days listed for Togakure is a later one.

So, although Togakure Ryu and Koto Ryu are separated by a number of centuries. . .

Again, not at all: What we now call Koto ryu was called something else, but according to kuden it was contemporaneous with Togakure ryu.
 

Chris Parker

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Again, Dale, agreed. I didn't want to get to much into the history (kuden and written) of Koto and Gyokko, mainly because I considered it a little off-topic for a thread on Togakure Ryu, but for the record:

Both Gyokko and Koto Ryu trace their knowledge back to China in the 10th/11th Centuries, where, due to some major political upheaval, many members of the old Court and their supporters fled the country. In Gyokko Ryu's case, the skills went directly to Japan with Ikai (who may have been an individual, or a group of people with similar ideas), who then settled in the Iga region of Japan. Koto Ryu (or what would later be known as Koto Ryu), however, made it's way south to Korea, where it continued to grow until it ended up in the hands of Chan Busho (the school would also later take it's name from a story about Chan Busho, where he is said to have killed a tiger without any weapons).

Chan Busho, probably with a number of others (disciples?), made the journey to Japan, where again, the art grew until the knowledge came to Sakagami Taro Kunishige, the 10th Soke of Gyokko Ryu, who formalised the system (according to some theories, he was finding that Gyokko Ryu was no longer as effective for the changing battlefields in Japan, and Koto Ryu is his expression of what was needed. He is also credited with re-organising Gyokko Ryu at the time, changing it's name from Gyokko Ryu (Ninpo) to Gyokko Ryu Shitojutsu).

As a result, I would say Koto Ryu only truly existed from it's (the knowledge's) contact with the Gyokko Ryu knowledge. Certainly the skills which would form the basis of Koto Ryu have been around a lot longer (if we track things back even further, there are stories of the Koto Ryu skills in India [prior to it's time in China], where it was known as Karani, or Magical Technique, due to the realtive ease with which it's practitioners defeated other warriors), but to say that that was definatively Koto Ryu is a little misleading. Koto Ryu is Koto Ryu because of the path it has travelled, but it needed that last point of contact to become (mature into) the system we study.

With respect,
Chris Parker.
 

newtothe dark

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Great Posts this is why I signed up for the forums keep up the great work. :popcorn:
 

Vonbek

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Really interesting. Please give us some more. Many thanks.
 

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