Takenouchi Ryu

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Foundation of the Ryûha

Takenouchi-ryû (or Takeuchi-ryû) is the oldest documented koryu bujutsu ryuha that contains a systemized form of unarmed combat. This ryuha is renowned for it's unarmed combat techniques and being the influence and even the progenitor of a plethora of other koryū bujutsu ryuha.

The Takenouchi family were bushi descended from the Minamoto family and originally resided in Kyoto, owning land and estates in Mimasaka province. During the upheavals of the Sengoku Period Takenouchi Hisamori became the lord of Ichinose castle in Mimasaka (美作国), which is now modern day Okayama Prefecture. The castle later fell to an offensive by Ukita Ienao's (One of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's generals) forces, inducing the Takenouchi family to flee to the countryside of Mimasaka.

According to the Takenouchi Hisamori retreated to Sannomiya shrine and stayed there for six days in order to develop his family's school swordsmanship via training and prayer. Takenouchi Hisamori was a relatively small person even for Japanese people, but used a training sword of two shaku and four sun in length. On the sixth night of shûgyô as he slept, Hisamori was approached by a mountain ascetic or yamabushi who Hisamori promptly attacked.

The yamabushi controlled and restrained the enraged Hisamori with comparative ease until he calmed and then taught him elements of unarmed combat, restraint methods using cord (hojojutsu) and finally the yamabushi broke Hisamori's training sword in half, making two short swords which later became known as kogusoku koshi no mawari or close combat grappling techniques, armed with a shortsword.

The techniques Hisamori learned either via dream, vision, direct teaching from an outside source unspecified or from prior combat experience formed the basis of the Takenouchi-ryû bujutsu curriculum which continually evolved via the experiences of subsequent generations of Takenouchi family descendants into a comprehensive system of martial sciences (sôgô bujutsu 総合武術) containing at present, over 500 techniques.

Hisasmori's grandson, Takenouchi Kaganosuke Hisayoshi, is famous for developing Takenouchi-ryû techniques further. Hisayoshi went on musha-shûgyô, visiting other domains and challenging members of other ryûha to shinken-shobu matches. From these taryû-jiai (他流試合), Hisayoshi's experiences in single combat influenced him to develop additional techniques for the ryuha. Takenouchi Hisayoshi was also responsible for the influence and teaching the founders of other koryû bujutsu ryūha, such as Hontai Takagi Yoshin Ryû (本體高木楊心流), Rikishin Ryû (力信流), Takenouchi Santô-ryû (竹内三統流) and others.

Technical Characteristics

One of the main characteristics of Takenouchi-ryû techniques regardless of the discipline, is the lack of complexity. There are a few principle based, simple, basic methods that work again and again in various situations, scenarios and positions, using either unarmed combat or weaponry.

One of the most important parts of Takenouchi-ryû's curriculum is it's kogusoku koshi no mawari syllabus, which teaches the practitioner the use of the kodachi in conjunction with jûjutsu techniques.

The ryûha's unarmed combat syllabus consists of certain modified techniques from the kogusoku koshi no mawari that have been either adapted or developed to a variety of attacks. The jûjutsu (sometimes referred to generically as kempo-taijutsu) syllabus consists of ukemi, nage-waza, kansetsu-waza, and atemi-waza which are used to strike kyûsho to either unbalance the enemy, to set up for a joint lock or throw or to disable him entirely. Some throwing techniques in the syllabus are designed so that an experienced practitioner cannot breakfall or absorb the shock trauma. A number of the ukemi in this tradition are quite energetic and in some cases, acrobatic.Higher level techniques include the use jujutsu techniques in conjunction with hojojutsu.

Takenouchi-ryū's bōjutsu syllabus is expansive and covers various manipulations of the weapon, again attacking various kyūsho. Basic skill sets are consisted of bô-tai-bô and advanced level sets include bō-tai-tachi (棒対太刀). The ryûha's syllabus also contains jojutsu.

The kenjutsu (Kenpo saide 剣法斎手) syllabus is comprehensive, teaching kumitachi and batto techniques. In higher level kenjutsu sets, elements of the kogusoku and jūjutsu sets are incorporated, so that the situation of close in-fighting situations such as tsuba-zeriai and others are addressed.

other weapons disciplines taught in Takenouchi-ryû are sōjutsu, naginatajutsu, juttejutsu, tessenjutsu, shurikenjutsu, hibashi (Iron chopsticks for a brazier), nabefuta (wooden ricepot lid), and tegasa (Chinese-style paper parasol).

Takenouchi-ryû Branches

There are three lines of Takenouchi-ryû in activity - The Honke, sôdenke and Bichû-den lines. The Honke (Hinoshita Torite Kaizan Takenouchi-ryû 日下捕手開山竹内流) and Sōdenke (Takenouchi-ryu lines were formed by the eighth headmaster, to preserve and propogate the tradition.

The Bichû-den Takeuchi-ryû (備中傳竹内流 - Not pronounced Takenouchi-ryû in this line of the tradition.) traces it's lineage back to the third headmaster, Takenouchi Kaganosuke Hisayoshi. Hisayoshi's senior student, Takeuchi Seidaiyu Masatsugu worked as an instructor for the garrisoned Bichū Ikusaka-han (modern day Okayama Prefecture.)

The sôke line is in it's 14th generation of succession, headed by Takenouchi Toichiro Hisamune sōke.

The Sôdenke line is in it's 13th generation under Takenouchi Tojuro Hisatake Sodenke.

Bichû-den Takeuchi-ryû is in it's 16th generation of succession, under Ono Yotaro Shihanke.

Each line is individual, yet maintains a very good relationship with each other.

Takenouchi-ryû Offshoots

Takenouchi-ryû has had a major influence on the formation of a large number of koryû bujutsu ryûha, specifically; Hontai Takagi Yoshin-ryû, Sôsuishi-ryû, Rikishin-ryû, Takenouchi Santō-ryû, Fusen-ryû, Araki-ryû (And it's variants), Katayama Hôki-ryû, Nanba Ippô-ryû, Fūden-ryû and Takenouchi Hangan ryû.


  • Takenouchi-ryû Hensan Iinkai. 1978. Nihon No Jūjutsu No Genryū Takenouchi-ryû. Nichibo Shuppansha
  • Takenouchi, Toichiro & Akio, Jiromaru. 1993. Shinden No Bujutsu, Takenouchi-ryû. Mu AV Books
  • Yokose, Tomoyuki, 2000. Nihon No Kobudō. Shadanhôjin Nippon Budōkan - Baseball Magazine sha
  • Matsuda, Ryūichi. 1979. Hiden Nihon Jūjutsu. Shin-Jinbutsuoraisha
  • Yamada, Kiyoshi & Watatani, Tadashi. 1978. Bugei Ryûha Daijiten. Tokyo Copy Shuppansha.
  • Nihon Kobudo Kyokai Ron. 1994. Nihon Kobudō Sôran. Shimazushobo
  • Skoss, Diane (ed.). 1999. Sword and spirit. Volume 2 in Classical warrior traditions of Japan. Kory Books

Visual References