Technical comparison: Karate and Yagyu Shingan Ryu Yawara

A form of Yagyu Shingan Ryu Yawara (Jujutsu) shows almost the same sequence as Karate form Naihanchi (Tekki Shodan).

Naihanchi is one of the forms credited to Sokon Matsumura. Although commonly attributed to white crane Kung Fu, it has no extant form in China. What if Matsumura picked it up in his travels to Japan? We should note that one of the key unarmed methods of Yagyu Shingan Ryu is called Totte no Jutsu – not a million miles linguistically from Tote Jutsu (Karate Jutsu/Toshu Jutsu). We should also note that Yagyu Shingan Ryu used agricultural implements ie Kobudo weapons, much like Karate does. We will discuss these elements later in the article.

Start of Yagyu Shingan Ryu form

Start of Yagyu Shingan Ryu form

Start of Naihanchi

Start of Naihanchi

The Yagyu sequence begins with a back hand block

The Yagyu sequence begins with a back hand block

The Karate sequence begins with a back hand block

The Karate sequence begins with a back hand block

The Yagyu sequence grabs the head and elbows...

The Yagyu sequence grabs the head and elbows…

The Karate sequence grabs the head and elbows

The Karate sequence grabs the head and elbows

Yagyu uses a double thrusting action

Yagyu uses a double thrusting action

Karate's double thrusting action

Karate’s double thrusting action

A large winding strike from Yagyu

A large winding strike from Yagyu

The equivalent movement in Naihanchi

The equivalent movement in Naihanchi

Yagyu uses a Tomoe Nage

Yagyu uses a Tomoe Nage

Could this be the application for the "returning wave"?

Could this be the application for the “returning wave”?

link to video Yagyu Shingan Ryu video:

Interestingly, Yagyu Shingan Ryu’s modern day masters includes Sato Kimbei. Although most renowned for his Yawara (Jujutsu) Kimbei was also known for his Chinese martial arts, particularly Hsing-I and Pakua. Perhaps it is the Chinese-like quality of Yagyu Shingan Ryu that gave him this ability.

Some of the movements in Yagyu Shingan Ryu, look more like Kung Fu than they do some styles of Jujutsu.

Hsing-I:

Link to previous article comparing Karate with Tai chi.

Link to The Lost Book of Kushanku in which I made the following hypothesis:

  • The Kushanku (Kanku Dai) form was derived from Taiji Quan
  • The Wansu (Empi) form was derived from Hsin-I Quan
  • The Passai (Bassai Dai) form was derived from Bazi Quan
  • Kito Ryu Jujutsu (Chen Gempin) was derived from Chen village boxing
  • Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu (Akiyama’s Hakuda) was derived from Bazi Quan
  • Yagyu Shingan Ryu was derived from Hsin-I Quan

Therefore it may be that both Naihanchi and Yagyu Shingan Ryu were related to the same branch of Hsin-I Quan (the forerunner of Hsing-I) that was related to Bazi Quan.

About Yagyu Shingan Ryu

Yagyū Shingan-ryū (柳生心眼流), is a traditional school (koryū) of Japanese martial arts.

Originally called simply Shingan-ryū, it was later renamed Yagyū Shingan-ryū, due to the influence of Yagyu Tajima No Kami Munenori’s Yagyū Shinkage-ryū

Yagyū Shingan-ryū was created to be a battlefield art with a large comprehensive curriculum of weapons, and grappling techniques for use both while armored and unarmored,  training several arts, including Yawara (jujutsu), quarterstaff fighting (bōjutsu), glaive fighting (naginatajutsu), sword drawing techniques (iaijutsu) and sword fighting (kenjutsu).

Technical characteristics of Yagyu Shingan Ryu (from Classical Fighting Arts of Japan by Serge Mol)

  • Suburi (Suhada Jujutsu, atemi)
  • Torite no Jutsu – Torikata no Yawara (restraints)
  • Totte no Jutsu (escapes)
  • Kogusoku Totte (grappling with armour and shortswords)
  • Gyoi dori (defence against Iai Jutsu)

Kobudo agricultural style weapons of Yagyu Shingan Ryu (also from Serge Mol)

  • Hananejibo (a Jutte originally used to control horses)
  • Bashin (a double edge knife used to bleed horses)
  • Jingama (Kama sickle)

Yagyu Shingan Ryu by Sato Kimbei (from website maintained by his daughter):

Yagyu Shingan-ryu Heijutsu is said to have begun from Takenaga Hayato (who lived around the 18th century). Takenaga was born in Sendai, and traveled to Edo after learning many different arts, where he worked and trained as an inner student of Yagyu . After returning home, he added his own elements to what he had learned and called the new art that he taught his students Yagyu Shingan-ryu (Hoshi Katsuo has done more detailed research on this). Sato Kinbei belongs to Hoshi Sadakichi (1821~1898) branch of the style. Hoshi Sadakichi was born in the village of Nitta, Kuribara county in Miyagi Prefecture, and studied martial arts in his hometown in Satake Yuuzaburo and in Sanuma dojo. Later, he traveled around different provinces, researching different styles and finally coming to study and master Shingan-ryu under Kato Gonzo of Dewa. Hoshi achieved mastery of the style and, adding his own previous knowledge and research foundation, later taught many disciples; for this he is known as the art greatest propagator.

Yagyu Shingan-ryu is now being widely practiced in Sakocho Iida in Tomai Province, Miyagi Prefecture under Hoshi Seiichi. In Sendai, Sato Kinbei disciple Tadano Masataka is teaching it along with Chinese martial arts under shihan Sato Shigeru. Near Sendai, in Taga Jo City, shihans Shouji Shoji, and Miyagi under shihan Suzuki Hitoshi are all spreading the art through teaching at the budokan. In Tokyo, Sato Kinbei has been teaching it for the 33 years he has been in Tokyo along with other traditional Japanese martial arts, medicine, and Chinese martial arts. At Sato Kinbei’s school, Shingan-ryu is taught to all those studying Chinese martial arts.

It was 1950 when my father Sato Kinbei received his license to teach Yagyu Shingan-ryu, just after he returned from the war in China. According to him, Yagyu Shingan-ryu is different from other forms of Jujutsu in terms of its practicality on the field of battle and its unrivaled fierceness and ability to kill the enemy. It is said that the experienced practitioner can shatter an enemy arm with one blow.

training with Terry in Wigan

Bushinkai chief instructor Simon Keegan (in black gi) on a seminar with Karate and Yawara instructor Terry Wingrove (9th Dan Hanshi) whose teacher Sato Kimbei was a master of Yagyu Shingan Ryu. Picture in 2006.

Note on terminology:

The character Ju (in Jujutsu and also in Goju Ryu Karate) can also be pronounced Yawara.

Some Jujutsu schools including Yagyu Shingan Ryu use the term Yawara.

In Bushinkai we use the term “Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu” for our Karate-Jujutsu system.

Hakuda is another alternative to Jujutsu/Yawara.

Hakuda was used by Ryu such as Yoshin Ryu.

The character Shin in Shingan is the same as the character Hsin which can be used in Hsing-I.

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