Purpose of Martial Arts

A true purpose and quality of martial art discipline – Budo

A purpose to train in a martial art discipline… is to strengthen oneself. But what does that really mean? We should not draw a quick conclusion on the meaning of strength. True strength is not a physical attribute to defeat opponents in combat, but rather a quality to overcome difficulties in our life itself.
The strength sought by the past Samurai warriors, was the strength to overcome fear of death.
This typically appears in “Hagakure” as the concept of Bushido

  • A practical and spiritual guide for a warrior, drawn from a collection of commentaries by the clerk Yamamoto

Tsunetomo from the Kyushu Saga (Nabeshima) clan during the latter 17 th century “Bushido, The Way of the Samurai is found in death.
In another words, if you are afraid of death, you cannot claim to be a samurai warrior.
Death should not be a result from an act of desperation. Rather it should be met with honor by understanding ones true thoughts and value in life.
However, even so “Death” stays the most ominous fear for any individual(s).
Thus during the old days in Japan, such strength to overcome that fear was achieved thru the intense practice of fencing (Kenjutsu) disciplines.
Because “true” strength was achieved by practicing the way of the sword (Katana), the sword also became considered as the “the spirit of a samurai”.
Unfortunately, few people remain today who understand such wonderful value inherent in the training of martial arts – Budo.

The quality of true swordsmanship

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Introduction to Hokushin Ittoryu

 Hokushin is another description for the North Star.

This naming is taken from “Hokushin Musoryu”, a style practiced by the founder of the style, Master Chiba Shusaku Narimasa during his adolesence.

Ittoryu was taken from the “Nakanishi Ittoryu” school which he trained as a youth.

Since the North Star can be seen immovable in the center of the celestial sky the name “Hokushin Ittoryu” was used to imply the physical center where the strength gathered making the swordsman immovable and invincible.

The school (dojo) of Hokushin Ittoryu was located at, Kanda Otamaga Ike in today’s Chiyoda-ward, Tokyo and was named “Genbukan”. Genbu is an imaginary beast that protects the northern sky and is represented in a chimerical form of a snake entangled by a turtle. The snake symbolizes the prosperity, while the turtle is said to symbolize the Martial Arts (Budo).

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Restoration of Hokushin Ittoryu

Restoration of Hokushin Ittoryu school of swordsmanship

During the Meiji period it was the Tobu Hall at Mito that preserved the technical transmission of the style.

The Hokushin Ittoryu techniques were handed down from Master Chiba Eijiro to Ozawa Toraichi, then to his son Ichiro and finally to the family’s adopted son Toyokichi.

At other training halls, the practice method of using the Oni Gote (a large-sized leather gloves used for striking when practicing the kata) ceased to be transmitted.

When Master. Ichiro ‘s real daughter grew up and got married, the Ozawa family’s son – in – law (Takeshi Ozawa) took over the running of the school. This arrangement ended in Master Toyokichi’s abrupt departure from the Tobu Hall where he was eventually invited to become the instructor at the newly opened “Kodo Gikai Society”* in Tokyo .

As a result there was no transmission and exchange of techniques between Master Toyokichi and the Mito contingent, there after making the practice of Hokushin Ittoryu at Tobu Hall merely in name only.

The actual transmission of the Hokushin Ittoryu sword techniques got inherited at the fencing classes held at Kodo Gikai Society.

*a politically backed non-profit organization established in 1918 to preserve various Japanese traditions and ideology.

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The innermost technique “Kiriotoshi “- the cut down

The ultimate technique of all sword schools is essentially the same, and it is named “Kiriotoshi” in the Hokushin Ittoryu school. In physical terms it is when an incoming sword is deflected by an intercepting cut executed simultaneously. Anyone, can be taught the physical movement. However, lacking the psychological and emotional content it will not work.

The technique itself cannot be committed successfully when counteracting and deflecting the incoming sword if there is a slightest distraction that crosses one’s mind, resulting in tensing the body. Our mind (or the spirit) can only manage to “free” itself for an instance from the spontaneous thoughts and emotions. It is very difficult to control your mind by reigning in the various psychological activities to stay calm and relaxed. That’s why the “Kiriotoshi” is considered the innermost technique requiring a disciplined “mind” along with
the proper physical execution.

Because it concerns the mind, when performing the technique, it will manifest the individual’s personality. Your ego will reveal your inner-most fear while your conventional wisdom and past efforts will become irrelevant. At that very moment, you will require to literally “cut down” your anxiety and obsession, discover your true inner-self and render yourself to the “divine existence”.

An instructor can only demonstrate to you how it is done, but will not be able to teach you how to perform the actual feat. Every individual(s) will need to strive on their own to attain such ability and skill.

On the other hand, even a novice can be immediately certified as a “master” swordsman if the individual can perform the proper “Kiriotoshi” on their first day of joining the school.