Gyokko ryu primer

Gyokko ryu primer

玉虎流骨指術

What is Gyokko ryu kosshijutsu? Why is it fundamental? Is it really the oldest school in the Bujinkan?

There are several legends about the origins of Gyokko ryu. My favorite one says that it was founded in the 6th century A.D. by a Chinese nun to protect against Chinese soldiers. I like this origin story because it’s so instructive: at its core, Gyokko ryu pits weakness against strength to find victory. As with most origin stories for martial schools, I think it’s more useful to look at the lesson from the myth, rather than getting too caught up in the historical details. Apply some Joseph Campbell-style analysis to the myth, and there are lessons to be learned there too.

The formal founding of Gyokko ryu is attributed to Tozawa Hakuunsai Hogen in 1156. It passed through to Takamatsu to Hatsumi, who then passed it on to its current Soke, Ishizuka.

Characteristics

Gyokko ryu is a foundational school. After all, every student is expected to master the kata in the Sanshin and Kihon Happo, which are both from Gyokko ryu. As a foundational school, Gyokko ryu is very challenging. Leverage is a crucial element — remember our Chinese nun fighting soldiers who are presumably bigger, stronger, trained, and possibly armed and armored? A great deal of sophistication is required to apply leverage against opponents with minimal effort and maximal effect.

There has long been a relationship between Gyokko ryu and Koto ryu, with both schools passed down together since the 16th century. Hatsumi has described kosshijutsu as a kind of backbone or hips, in the sense of something being fundamental. Certainly in the Bujinkan, Gyokko ryu takes on that fundamental role.

Other characteristics include hidden weapons, balanced footwork, flanking, “magnetizing” to your opponent, and using gravity.

categories

Studying in the Bujinkan
Learning from the past
The background on our martial art
We need all the help we can get
Extra advice for life

Share this article

Facebook
Twitter

More To Explore

Martial Arts White Paper

The modern world of martial arts needs to be re-examined and the varied purposes of the different arts evaluated with a fresh eye. This white paper is an attempt to address some of the conflicts in today’s world of martial arts.

Pearly Whites

Black teeth? Not necessarily a sign of bad dental hygiene in Meiji Japan.

DVT: My Personal Battle

February 12, 2006 . . . A day I had been anticipating since about ’96, from when I first started following the Bujinkan in high-school. It was the day I would finally study with Hatsumi-sensei. I can’t even put into words the way I felt, since I stayed up the whole night on the 12th. Little did I know that this very trip would begin a very subtle unrecognized fight for my own life…

Scroll to Top