Kamiizumi Nobutsuna's Legacy
The feudal lord Kamiizumi Nobutsuna led a simple life. Although he was not a monk, he kept his head shaved, which was a sign of renunciation of the everyday world. He did not have children and left all his property to his student Yagyū Munetoshi. Munetoshi had gained his own renown as a remarkable swordsman even before Nobutsuna's passing. He began development of the mutō techniques of using bare hands against the sword and it is he who appended the name of his family (Yagyū) onto the name of the school, founding the Yagyū Shinkage-ryū. His son, Yagyū Munenori, later perfected the techniques of mutō, and also created the techniques of iaijutsu.
Upon Munetoshi's death in 1606, the school split into two. His grandson Yagyū Toshiyoshi took command of the Owari branch, while Munenori became the head of the Edo branch. Takenaga Hayato, the founder of the Yagyū Shingan Ryū Heiho was a student and received the gokui of the Yagyū Shinkage-ryū under Yagyū Munenori. The Edo branch, although no longer headed by a descendant of the Yagyū family, continues to be practiced by a small, faithful group of practitioners in Osaka under the direction of Sono Seigo. The Owari branch of Nagoya continues under the guidance of a direct descendant of Munetoshi, Yagyū Kōichi Toshinobu.
Munenori's son, Yagyū Jūbei Mitsuyoshi, contributed greatly, in turn, to the school. He was not only a master of sword, but also a strategist, an expert of jujutsu-yawara, ninjutsu, kempō and an ascetic who went on musha shugyō, the warrior's ascetic journey. His sword technique was named chie-no-ken (sword of Transcendent Wisdom).
The one who codified the techniques of the Yagyū Shinkage-ryū into its traditional form was the fifth soke (heir), Yagyū Toshikane. He codified all the basic instruction (kihon-waza) into a document known as Hassei-hō or more commonly Sei-hō. These series were responsible for making understood the essential points of forms (kata) that had been transmitted by Munenori. Before the advent of modern kendō, he created a form of free fighting in teaching with shinai.
Read more about this topic: Yagyū Shinkage-ryū
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