The creation of Toyama Ryu style of Japanese swordsmanship is related to Toyama Military Academy, where this style was established in between two world wars. In 1873, in Toyama district of Tokyo, was formed Toyama Military Academy (Rikugun Toyama Gakko). In 1937, Toyama Academy was moved to a place which was about 40 km southwest from Tokyo, near the Zama city. This military school remained at that location until it was closed, in 1945. Toyama Academy had six big dojos for Kendo and one for Jukenjutsu (bayonet fencing). All dojos were 60m long and 12m wide.
Jukendo training at Toyama Military Academy
Lieutenant Morinaga Kiyoshi was the initiator of the creation of Toyama style of swordsmanship. In 1925, he was still lieutenant and the director of Kenjutsu Kenkyu Kai (Fencing Research Committee) at Toyama Academy. The objective of this comitee was to codify a practical system of use of Japanese sword – katana at a modern battlefield, which would be studied, as a subject, at the Military Academy. The idea was to use the most efficient techniques from classical styles (koryu) of Iaido, Iaijutsu and Kenjutsu. Lieutenant Morinaga decided to ask for technical help one of the most eminent teachers of swordsmanship at that time: Nakayama Hakudo. Nakayama sensei was a famous teacher of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido and the founder of Muso Shinden Ryu.
The second step in creation of the new military fencing system was the analysis of the expert reports on great fencing battles in the recent history of Japan. The conclusion based on the analysis of casualties and wounded, during the rebellion in Satsuma, in 1877, was that the most common efficiently performed cut was kesa giri – a downward diagonal cut. The cause of almost all fatal injuries, was exactly that technique. The logical conclusion was that the technical base of the new military fencing style should be kesa giri.
1945, North China
The result of work of Kenjutsu Kenkyu Kai and Nakayama sensei, was a new style, established in 1925, initially called Gunto no Soho. It was consisted of five kata and of tameshigiri (test cutting technique). For the purpose of test cutting practice, were used the targets made of rice straw – makiwara or tameshiwara. These rice straw rolls were put into water to sank for a certain period of time, in order to be solid and moist like the parts of human body.
In 1939, Gunto no Soho system was redefined. The most important reason for this reformation was insufficient fencing skill, demonstrated during a Japanese military intervention in China and Manchuria. The initiator of this redefinition of the basic form was, once again, Morinaga Kyoshi (colonel at that time). Certain technical details of the old fifth kata were changed and the sixth and seventh kata were added.
After 1945, appeared three lineages of interpretation of original Toyama Ryu: Nakamura-ha, Morinaga-ha and Yamaguchi-ha. Nakamura Taizaburo sensei is the founder of Nakamura-ha. He added to the series the eighth kata (Itto Ryodan) and introduced some technical changes in other kata of the pre-WWII Toyama Ryu. In 1977, he founded Zen Nippon Toyama Ryu Iaido Renmei. After the war, he also established International Battodo Federation, which, for its main objective, has the development of Nakamura Ryu. The founder of Morinaga-ha is colonel Morinaga Kyoshi. He founded Dai Nippon Toyama Ryu Iaido Shinkokai . His most important follower is Tokutomi Tasaburo sensei.
Zan Geki Rikugun Toyama Gakko Ni Te – Combat Cutting
at Toyama Military Academy Yamaguchi-ha was founded by Yamaguchi Yukii – officer and instructor at Toyama academy.
It is essential to mention that the entire technical curriculum of the Toyama Ryu was incorporated to a style, which was founded by Nakamura Taizaburo sensei –Nakamura Ryu Battodo, and represents its technical base.
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