History of Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu

Gyokko Ryu is a famous school of Kosshi-jutsu (called “Shito-jutsu” in older times) and is also known as Gyokko Ryu Ninpo – which was the source of Haku-un Ryu Ninpo from Iga. Gyokko Ryu is also the oldest school of Kosshi-jutsu and is the source of almost all Ninpo Taijutsu. Takamatsu Sensei taught that Koto Ryu Koppo-jutsu, Gyokushin Ryu Koppo-jutsu, Gikan Ryu Koppo-jutsu, Iga Ryu and Koga Ryu all descended from Gyokko Ryu.

We are told that the founder of Gyokko Ryu was Ikai or Cho-Gyokko of China.
The genealogy is:

  • Ikai/Cho-Gyokko
  • Gamon Doshi
  • Garyu
  • Doshi
  • Hachiryu Nyudo
  • Tozawa Haku-unsai
  • Momochi Sandayu
  • The Toda Family
  • Toda Shinryuken
  • Takamatsu Toshitsugu
  • Masaaki Hatsumi

The Grandmaster Hachiryu Nyudo used a secret weapon called a “Kyoketsu-Shoge” to hit the enemies sword and disarm them (Kyoketsu-Shoge means “running through the mountains and fields”). A Kyoketsu-Shoge is a type of Kusari-Gama (sickle & chain weapon) with a rope made from women’s hair ending with a large circular iron weight.

Togakure Daisuke, who was the 5th generation grandmaster from Hachiryu Nyudo and founder of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu used a special secret weapon by adding a secret object to both ends of a Kyoketsu-Shoge (this is Kuden). He could disappear at any time by using this secret weapon. There are also secret techniques in Gyokko Ryu for using two small balls to disappear.

Gyokko Ryu’s motto is to try to have harmony, even with the enemy and to avoid fighting while keeping a smile. If there is no choice but to fight, then completely knock down the enemy without allowing them to touch you.

In training, Gyokko Ryu teaches how to bow with the hand signals of Tenryaku Uchu Gassho Rei which means “Heavens Nature” or “Harmony of Dragon and Tiger”. When fighting, there is a special way with the Sansai-no-ho of Tenryaku, Chiryaku and Jinryaku. There are also the hand signals of Kongo Gassho, Suirin Gassho and Kafu Gassho.

The same system can also be found in Koto Ryu Koppo-jutsu.

Gyokko Ryu has Sandan Kamae system with nine styles of how to punch and use the hands in addition to three styles of kicking.

As Kosshi Taihen-jutsu there are three ways: Ryuhen (dragon), Kohen (tiger) and Hyohen (leopard) with each having nine Henka (variations).
The patterns of Gyokko Ryu are divided into Jo-ryaku, Chu-ryaku and Ge-ryaku and the Kihon Taihen-jutsu are Ichimonji, Hicho and Jumonji.

There are many Kuden (Secret teachings), including Kuraidori, Shinshin-shingan, Tenmon Chimon and others. A Kuden regarding how to surely win is called Kyohen-no-Jutsu. Shoto Tanemura was given this Kuden from Takamatsu Sensei one year before he passed away.

Gyokko Ryu and Koto Ryu have nine rules:

1. Make an effort for the country and embody the meaning of Nin (patience).
2. Control your ego, don’t regret death.
3. If someone is coming to take your life, say and show nothing.
4. If a strong enemy comes, keep an immovable heart (Fudoshin).
5. Do your best to serve and honor your teacher and your parents.
6. If one is drowned in lust, one’s power will disappear.
7. If one is drowned in alcohol, one’s power will disappear.
8. Break an enemy’s power and fighting spirit, but leave their life.
9. Do not teach or show our school’s techniques to another person.

Practitioners of this Ryu-ha must promise to keep these rules.

Gyokko-ryū kosshijutsu

Gyokko-ryū kosshijutsu (玉虎流骨指術) is the oldest of our nine martial arts traditions and is the basis for all of them. The prefix “kosshi” means “bones of the fingers” but can also be interpreted as the “backbone” for all forms of martial arts, not just the Bujinkan’s nine schools. Other historical name of this method has been Shitōjutsu (Science for using the fingertips; 指頭術) and hichōjutsu (Science of the Leaping Bird; 飛鳥術).

Kosshijutsu is often translated simply as “approach to soft tissue and nerve points, consisting of oblique movements” or something similar, but this would be a rather superficial description considering the profound depths of the system.

Another, deeper, interpretation is that kosshijutsu is a dynamic process in taijutsu (Sciences of the body; 体術). By process, we mean the one that understands the chains of posture-displacement-movement and how this leads from foot to head, through the lumbar vertebrae, and to act in synchronicity. There are more guided movements where the optimum number of muscle chains interact and produce the desired motion. They strive to use offsetting muscle groups in both directions to achieve the relaxed and functional movements found within this tradition. When kosshijutsu was founded, there were not terms that described the more guided movements or “muscle chains”, but instead this was described as meridians and it was noted that the body was crossed by eight such meridians. Our Ryūtai undō is based on stretching these meridians and is a way to reset the body into homeostasis, which is a prerequisite for kosshijutsu and our other bio-mechanics.

The functionality of kosshijutsu is defined by Gyokko-ryū‘s three basic concepts:

Fūsui 風水 – Wind and Water – feng shui (Environmental Psychology)

Jūryoku 重力 – Gravitational force (use of body weight)

Jiryoku 磁力 – Magnetic force (balance of tension)

This forms an implicit structure of movements that give an impression of “volatility” and refers to the origin of which was quick and nimble movements for “avoiding arrows” – yachigai (Arrow Avoidance; 矢違) and Yadome (Arrow Stopping; 矢止).

According its pedagogy, Gyokko-ryū was systematized according to an ancient book about warfare called Sanryaku (Three Strategies; 三略). This book originated from China and is over 2000 years old, it has been known in Japan since the Heian period, and consists of three chapters; Jōryaku no maki, Chūryaku no maki, and Geryaku no maki, ie, the same breakdown as Gyokko-ryū‘s curriculum.

Note: In fact, the first scroll of Gyokko-ryū (Jōryaku no maki; 上略之巻) directly quotes the first scroll of the Sanryaku (also Jōryaku). The original quote is as follows:

“The soft can counter the hard, the weak can counter the strong. Being soft at the appropriate extent can be a virtue, being inappropriately hard can be a menace. The weak is what the people will help, those that pretend to be strong is what people will resent. Soft, hard, weak and strong, to each has its appropriate place, and one should combining these four and use them where it is most appropriate. When neither the beginning nor end is visible, no one is able to gain full understanding. Heaven and Earth, like the myriad of things, also changes and transform. Thus the commander-in-chief should make changes and not be constant when situation depicts. He should change and transform in response to the enemy.

He does not precede affairs; when the enemy moves, he immediately follow up with it. Thus he is able to formulate inexhaustible strategies and methods of control to secure victory, sustain his gains, bring tranquility and order to the whole land, and settle the Nine Barbarians. Such strategist is a teacher for an emperor.”

While in Gyokko-ryū it states,

“Nurture the heart () without making the first move, the “In” secret is emotional strength (force of will) without making the first move, To cease an advantageous situation change to the form of “Yō“. When confronting “Yō“, control with “In“, the strong is controlled by the weak. Your own power is not enough, victory by means of your opponent’s power, your own power appears spontaneously…”

 Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu, Ryu-Ha  
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