The Densho of Katayama-ryu There are a large variety of written records (densho) surviving from the Katayama family, the familial headmasters (sōke) of Katayama-ryu and today the majority of these records are preserved at the Chōkokan museum in Iwakuni. There are a variety of types of densho and they can be loosely categorized as lists of technical names and principles (mokuroku, or catalogs, and the like), detailed records of explanations on technical points (oboegaki and the like), records on theory and ideology, and records on things to keep in mind in everyday life and what actions to take in various situations, etc. Among this great number of densho, the Heisō Jirinden in particular stands out for its extensive and detailed explanations beginning with Katayama-ryu’s theory and ideology in addition to the names of techniques and the rationale behind them. For this reason it is no exaggeration to consider this work to be the primary compilation on the ideology of Katayama-ryu.
Our modern lifestyle is significantly different in culture and customs to the period when these densho were written. Furthermore the severity of the bushi (warrior) lifestyle, which was directly associated with death, is radically different to our current way of life. However much of the theory, ideology and wisdom they have left behind is still of great value to us in modern times. For this reason, we would like to openly share a portion of these densho and the knowledge left to us by our predecessors.
About the Heisō Jirinden The densho Heisō Jirinden is a four volume compilation written by the second generation head of Katayama-ryu, Katayama Hisataka, in the fourth year of Shōhō (1647) about the organization and structure of Katayama-ryu. The term Heisō (幣帚) literally means “a worn/broken broom” . Jirin (自臨) refers to Jirin-no-Iai (自臨之居合). That is to say, it is a phrase with conveys the attitude aspired to by the founder, Katayama Hisayasu where even if one should be ridiculed by those around you for believing that a worn out broom is priceless, one should still strive for Jirin-no-Iai. Jirin-no-Iai is not iai to be used for combat, but rather iai used for trying to bring about peace in the world. As previously mentioned, the Heisō Jirinden contains detailed explanations on the ideology, theoretical thinking, technical names and their rationale, and the like in Katayama-ryu and gives us many insights we can still make use of today. The Teachings of Katayama-ryu 1. – Shūki (習気) (selections). The Ideals of Spirit that a Warrior Should Acquire (Heisō Jirinden Volume 3, Published on homepage Nov. 2013） 2.- Ōhen Hakkyoku （応変八極）(selections). Katayama-ryu’s Ihatsu (Kenjutsu) Kata (Heisō Jirinden Volume 2, Published on homepage Dec. 2013） 3.- Iai Hakkyoku-hen（居合八極変）(selections). The Mihatsu (Iai) Kata of Katayama-ryu Iai-kenjutsu (Heisō Jirinden Volume 2, Published on homepage Jan. 2014）