Hello all, Sean Askew has a new essay out on his research into the history of the Gyokko Ryu, our oldest school in the Bujinkan, and one that is said to be the foundation of all Japanese Budo (martial arts). This research is especially important for members of the Bujinkan, but I think any fan of martial arts, whether they be Karate, Judo, Jujutsu, Taekwondo, Kendo, Aikido, will appreciate this essay. Please visit this link for the original post and to see the pictures mentioned. Shared with permission by the author: Original Post
I have made some corrections including the proper readings of some of the names, big thanks to my friend and fellow ninjutsu researcher Eric Weil for pointing those out to me.
It is late at night and I don’t want to be up all night, but I am so excited with this find I need to post this before I sleep… so please forgive any grammar or spelling mistakes…I really want to share this quickly…
I believe that the mysterious Sō Gyokkan Risshi 僧玉観律師 (Master of the Law, Monk Gyokkan) of the Gyokko Ryu, who has up until now has remained completely anonymous, was in reality a Sakanoue family member carrying on the family tradition of worshipping the Shogun Jizo or Kachigun Jizo. If you have been following my posts, you may have read that the famous General/Shogun Sakanoue Tamura Maro was a huge proponent of this faith and funded the Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto where this ritual first started.
Now, in a document tracing the Sakanoue family I may have found some clues.
In the red box on the first photo from the Gyokko Ryu Soke lineage chart, you can see the name Sakanoue Kotaro Masahide, a descendant of Tamuramaro.
In the green box we see Masahide passed the art on to the Monk Gyokkan…
Then the Ryu goes to Sasaki Gendayu Sadayasu (of Kishu). The “Gen” of Gendayu represents that he is of the Sasaki Genji lineage (Minamoto).
This Sasaki Minamoto clan is actuality a direct blood related branch family of the Sakanoue clan that went by the name Sasaki Genji (Minamoto).
From there the Ryu goes on to Sasaki Goroemon Teruyori, a warrior also from the Sasaki Genji clan (Minamoto), who founded the Gyokushin Ryu Koppo school. This Uemon is listed in a lineage document titled the 群書系図部集 shown in the second picture.
You can see the whole document here…
So, my belief is that since the historical trend in the old past was to keep a Ryu within a family or clan, the Monk Gyokkan was most likely a Sakanoue family member who became a monk and later passed the art on in the Sasaki Genji branch of the Sakanoue clan. Possibly to his own son as it was quite common for monks to have children, especially those from nobility and the warrior class.
For more information on this Sasaki Genji branch of the Sakanoue family (in Japanese) please see …
The family Shrine, Sasaki Shrine 沙沙貴神社, can be found in Shiga, just a short distance north of Iga and Koka. The Sakanoue family's shrine in Asuka is just to the south-west of Iga.
Another interesting point is that our Toda Hisajiro (Shinryuken Masamitsu) comes from the Toda clan that changed their Toda characters from 富田 to 戸田. AND… this 富田 clan was a branch from the above mentioned Sasaki Genji clan out of Izumo.
It is becoming more and more clear that these families were deeply connected. Not just by lineage, but by blood.
The search for our roots continues…
Sean “Dōtō 導冬” Askew
Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo
I often get asked about our Dakentaijutsu, or striking methods, and how they are similar to, or differ from, Karate. In many ways they are very similar. Dakentaijutsu means striking body art, and is our method of delivering punches, kics, and various other strikes. As opposed to Jutaijutsu (more modern is Jujutsu or Jiujitsu) which is joint manipulation and submissions, and includes Nage Waza (older combat version of Judo) which is throwing. Karate and our use of Dakentaijutsu may appear similar on the surface, but there are some key differences I think is important to cover:
* Dakentaijutsu developed alongside Jutaijutsu, so they are built to work with each other. They are quite literally two sides of the same coin. Whereas many modern sport martial artists will earn two different systems and blend them together, like Karate or Muay Tai and BJJ or Judo, in our system they were never separate and are designed to work together. A strike sets up a throw, sets up another strike, sets up a submission.
* Dakentaijutsu utilizes the whole body to strike with. Our Dakentaijutsu striking techniques can be used to cover great distance very quickly, or deal with threats in a confined space. There is a key alignment with the structure of the skeleton that enables the great power that comes from our strikes while using very little effort. Thus, it is extremely efficient: Maximum power, minimum effort to generate the power.
* There are a variety of ways to shape the fists and other parts of the body (head, elbow, knees, toes, heels, etc.) for striking. In fact, the basic level of learning Dakentaijutsu has 16 different ways of shaping the fists and other parts of the body for striking. We don't just do push ups on our knuckles to condition them, we do pushups on our knuckles, fingers, thumbs, extended fore-knuckles, and sides of the hands in order to develop the strength in the ligaments of the hands to be able to perform our striking, or Dakentaijutsu. This allows a Bujinkan practitioner to be able to adapt to various situations with different ways of striking.
Shane Sensei is a licensed Shidoshi in the Bujinkan and member of the Shidoshi-Kai. He has trained in the Bujinkan since 1998 and regularly travels to Japan for training.