The spirit of Yagyū Shinkage Ryū has survived from the time the Yagyū family received the tradition from the founder, Kamiizumi Ise-no-kami Fujiwara Hidetsuna (later Nobutsuna) at the end of the Muromachi period.
About 450 years ago, the founder gave Yagyū Sekishūsai Munetoshi an inkajō (license), issued to only one person per domain. In the license, the founder wrote that only a true and sincere person should be taught the higher levels of the tradition. The second headmaster, Sekishūsai composed a tanka poem—one of 100 poems about heihō (swordsmanship)—based on the founder’s instruction, stating that if a student does not possess the five virtues (thinking about others deeply, keeping the way as a person, etiquette, wisdom to judge correct from incorrect and sincerity), the student should not be taught the secrets of heihō.
Sekishūsai’s grandson, the third headmaster Yagyū Hyōgonosuke Toshitoshi, served the first lord of the Owari domain, Tokugawa Yoshinao, as a teacher of heihō. This was the beginning of a new peaceful era called Genna Enbu (Genna Armistice), after the Seige of Osaka ended in 1615. In the same year, Hyōgonosuke wrote in the preface to his treatise on heihō, the Shijū Fuja-sho, that the purpose of heihō is to control the mind and body through practice.
In our school, we employ the sword by using the whole body in a relaxed manner. This is what we call sei shizen, or natural movement without any egoistical intention. There is an inseparable link between our minds and bodies and the ability to attain/realize natural movement depends on the state of our minds. To learn heihō and to cultivate our own humanity deeply are two sides of the same coin. We should correct and educate our minds striving to constantly improve ourselves.
Around 150 years have passed since the Meiji Restoration and people’s daily lives and the environment around them have undergone monumental changes. However, the spirit of this Ryū contains the wisdom of our predecessors, which can serve as guidelines for how to live life and how to endure and overcome adversity.
I would be pleased if learning about the long history of Shinkage Ryū Heihō, which has been passed down from the time of the founder, would result in a deeper understanding and interest in Japanese traditional culture, and that this will inspire others to value and protect our Ryū.
An auspicious day in August, 2017
Yagyū Kōichi Taira Toshinobu
日本古武道振興会 会長 齋藤聰様
大東流合気柔術 本部長 近藤勝之様
田宮流居合術宗家 御名代 妻木達夫様
Yagyū Kōichi Taira Toshinobu
22nd Headmaster Yagyū Shinkage Ryū Heihō
1952 Born in Tokyo.
1970 Became a student of the 21st Headmaster Yagyū Nobuharu Toshimichi, who was his father’s cousin.
2002 Adopted by the 21st Headmaster and resigned from his position at a bank in order to move to Nagoya and concentrate on Yagyū Shinkage Ryū and Yagyū Seigō Ryū training.
2006 Succeeded Yagyū Nobuharu Toshimichi as the 22nd Headmaster of Yagyū Shinkage Ryū. (The succession ceremony was held on February 18 in the Skyroom at the Nakano Sun Plaza Hotel.)
2007 Became the 16th head of the Owari Yagyū family after Yagyū Nobuharu Toshimichi passed away.
2011 The headmaster’s book, The Essence of Not Being Defeated (負けない奥義,) is published by Softbank Shinsho.
2017 Became a permanent director and vice-president of the Nihon Kobudo Shinko-kai and a director of the Nihon Kobudo Kyo-kai, which are the two main classical martial arts organizations in Japan.