Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu History

The Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu | Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu History | Origins of Daito Ryu | Takeda Sokaku | The Techniques of Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu | Daito Ryu and Aikido | History of Daito Ryu and Takumakai | Conversations with Daito Ryu Masters | Kondo Katsuyuki | Takeda Tokimune

The ultimate origins of Daitō-ryÅ« are the subject of some dispute, owing primarily to the absence of documentary evidence to support the school’s assertions of its history. This has led some scholars to question the accuracy of the school’s self-reported history.

Nevertheless, the school maintains a direct lineage extending approximately 900 years, originating with Shinra Saburō Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (新羅 三郎 源 義光, 1045–1127), who was a Minamoto clan samurai and member of the Seiwa Genji (the branch of the Minamoto family descending from 56th imperial ruler of Japan, Emperor Seiwa).

Daitō-ryÅ« takes its name from the mansion that Yoshimitsu lived in as a child, called “Daitō”, in ÅŒmi Province (modern day Shiga Prefecture). According to the legend, Yoshimitsu dissected the corpses of men killed in battle, studying their anatomy for the purpose of learning techniques for joint-locking and vital point striking.

Yoshimitsu had previously studied the empty-handed martial art of tegoi, an ancestor of the Japanese national sport of sumo, and added what he learned to the art. Yoshimitsu eventually settled down in Kai Province (modern day Yamanashi Prefecture), and passed what he learned within his family.

Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu Seiwa Genji Tree

Ultimately, Yoshimitsu’s great-grandson Nobuyoshi adopted the surname “Takeda”, which has been the name of the family to the present day. The Takeda family remained in Kai Province until the time of Takeda Shingen (武田 信玄, 1521–1573).

Shingen opposed Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga in their ultimately successful campaign to unify and control all of Japan. With the death of Shingen and his heir, Takeda Katsuyori (武田 勝頼, 1546–1582), the Takeda family relocated to the Aizu domain (an area comprising the western third of modern day Fukushima Prefecture).

Though these events caused the Takeda family to lose some of its power and influence, it remained intertwined with the ruling class of Japan. More importantly, the move to Aizu and subsequent events profoundly shaped what would emerge as Daitō-ryÅ« Aiki-jÅ«jutsu in the 19th century. One important event was the adoption of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s grandson, Komatsumaru (1611–1673), by Takeda Kenshoin (fourth daughter of Takeda Shingen).

Komatsumaru devoted himself to the study of the Takeda family’s martial arts, and was subsequently adopted by Hoshina Masamitsu. Komatsumaru changed his name to Hoshina Masayuki (保科 正之), and in 1644 was appointed the governor of Aizu.

As governor, he mandated that all subsequent rulers of Aizu study the arts of Ono-ha Ittō-ryū (which he himself had mastered), as well as the art of oshikiiuchi, a martial art which he developed for shogunal counselors and retainers, tailored to conditions within the palace. These arts became incorporated into and comingled with the Takeda family martial arts.

According to the traditions of Daitō-ryÅ«, it was these arts which Takeda Sokaku began teaching to non-members of the family in the late 19th century. Takeda had additionally studied swordsmanship and spearmanship with his father, Takeda Sokichi, as well as Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryÅ« as a live-in student (uchi-deshi) under the renowned swordsman Sakakibara Kenkichi. During his life, Sokaku traveled extensively to attain his goal of preserving his family’s traditions by spreading Daitō-ryÅ« throughout Japan.

Takeda Sokaku’s third son, Tokimune Takeda (武田 時宗 Takeda Tokimune, 1916–1993), became the headmaster of the art following the death of Sokaku in 1943. Tokimune taught what he called “Daitō-ryÅ« Aikibudō” (大東流合気武道, “Daitō-ryÅ« Aikibudō”?), an art that included the sword techniques of the Ono-ha Ittō-ryÅ« along with the traditional techniques of Daitō-ryÅ« Aiki-jÅ«jutsu.

It was also under Tokimune’s headmastership that modern dan rankings were first created and awarded to the students of Daitō-ryÅ«. Tokimune Takeda died in 1993 leaving no official successor, but a few of his high ranking students such as Katsuyuki Kondo (è¿‘è—¤ 勝之 Kondō Katsuyuki, born 1945) and Shigemitsu Kato now head their own Daitō-ryÅ« Aiki-jÅ«jutsu organizations.