Long ago, from the beginning of the Edo period (1603) all the way through to the Bakumatsu period (1853-1867), there was a school of swordsmanship located in the Nishimi area of Iwakuni city, famous for its Kintai Bridge, where warriors would go to train. Its name was the “Shinbu-jo” and they would go there to learn above all else “Shinbu”, that is the most sublime and noble spirit of a warrior.
There, the lively sounds of bokuto (wooden swords) and shinai (bamboo swords) clashing together could be heard from far away every month on the mornings of the days ending in one and six. Today, we are continuing the tradition of these young warriors.
”Shinbu” is not to kill, meaning one has achieved victory before any fighting takes place, and expresses the ultimate ideal of the martial arts. It is written in the old writings of Katayama-ryu that “If bu (the martial path) does not attain the level of shinbu, it cannot really be called bu.”
The purpose of establishing the Katayama-ryu Shinbu-no-Kai
Katayama-ryu is a martial arts tradition focusing on iaijutsu (sword drawing) and kenjutsu (combat with drawn swords) that was founded by Katayama Hoki-no-kami Hisayasu (1575-1650).Hisayasu served as a kenjutsu instructor to Toyotomi Hidetsugu (1568-1595) and Hideyori (1593-1615), the nephew and son of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), the second of three great leaders who unified Japan after a period of over 100 years of civil war known as the Warring States Period (Sengoku Jidai in Japanese). After the destruction of the Toyotomi family in the summer campaign of the Siege of Osaka (1615), the Katayama family came to serve the Iwakuni domain as martial arts instructors. Within the Katayama family this tradition continued through the of the Edo period, into the Meiji Restoration (1868), but due to the trends of the time and the modernization of Japan, it ended with the eighth generation and final head of the family, Katayama Busuke.
While studying Hoki-ryu iaijutsu Hoshino-ha under Yoshizawa Ikki sensei in Kyoto, Niwata Yoshiho sensei (died 2008), diligently researched its source art of Katayama-ryu and put great effort into the transmission of the Katayama family’s art of iai-kenjutsu.
Now, on May 18th, 2013, we have established the Katayama-ryu Shinbu-no-Kai, with the aim of preserving its techniques today and transmitting the art to future generations.