Araki ryu Torite Kogusoku

安中藩荒木流 Annaka-han Araki-ryu

History of Annaka-han Araki-ryu (安中藩荒木流)

Annaka-han was a small feudal domain in Western Kozuke (present-day Gunma prefecture).

The Annaka-han adopted Hioki-ryu as its kyujutsu (archery) school, Hozoin-ryu for sojutsu (spear), and Buei-ryu and Takashima-ryu for hojutsu (gunnery). Lord Itakura Katsunao built the Zoshikan for the education of young han members, in both bugei and academic studies, in Bunka 5 (1808). The kenjutsu shihan of Annaka-han were referred to in all official documents as members of the Araki-ryu kenjutsu, and Araki-ryu mokuroku, albeit quite different from the mainline, were passed down as licenses in the domain. In fact, however, it became a variant of Itto-ryu. The shihan of Araki-ryu were dispatched to Edo to become educated in Hokushin Itto-ryu, and in one case, Nakanishi-ha Itto-ryu. Araki-ryu kenjutsu  appears to have been an amalgam, with Itto-ryu increasingly providing the technical rationale, but still ordered with a perspective that the Annaka shihan defined  as uniquely Araki-ryu rather than Hokushin Itto-ryu.

The first kenjutsu shihan of the Annaka-han was Negishi Norinobu, born a farmer in Kanra-kun. He was passionate about martial arts, and studied Araki-ryu with Amiyoshi Dotaku of the Maebashi-han Araki-ryu. Amiyoshi  apparently taught a curriculum which included torite, torinawa (arresting techniques with a rope), iai and bojutsu. After receiving a menkyo kaiden in Araki-ryu, Negishi traveled 'around the country' in musha-shugyo, testing his skills in various areas. He was appointed kenjutsu shihan by Annaka-han daimyo Itakura Katsuaki.

Negishi Norimasa, a high ranking pupil of Norinobu became his successor. Brilliant in both calligraphy and bujutsu, he was adopted by Norinobu. Norimasa died in 1846.

Araki Yuho, Norimasa's son-in-law became his successor, and adopted his name. Later known as Negishi Noritoku, Araki began learning kenjutsu from Norimasa at the age of nine. He was later sent by Norimasa to Edo, and studied Hokushin Itto-ryu from Chiba Shusaku, and Nakanishi-ha Itto-ryu from Nakanishi Chubei. After traveling the country, he returned to Annaka, and succeeded Norimasa as kenjutsu shihan.

Noritoku's son was Negishi Shorei. As a child, he was mostly interested in the game of Igo, but at the age of sixteen, he became suddenly passionate about swordsmanship. He got permission to go to Edo, where he became, according to Annaka records, the number one student of Chiba Shusaku. He then studied for seven years with Kaiho Hanpei, an Annaka-han retainer who had been hired by the Mito-han as a bujutsu instructor.

Hanpei was a brilliant swordsman of the Hokushin Itto-ryu, and also a man of character. There was said to be no change in his behavior, even when he was intoxicated. His father died when he was young and he was reverent towards his mother, praying before opening any letter he received from her. His skill with a sword was reputed to be higher than that of his teacher, Chiba Shusaku. Tokugawa Nariaki ordered him to improve the design of the shuriken, and he incorporated this improved weapon in his Ganritsu-ryu. He taught this, along with kenjutsu, to Negishi Shorei, and the latter, after making further changes in both design and method, founded his own shuriken school, the Negishi-ryu.

Negishi Shorei

Negishi was favored by Kaiho, as they were both sons of Annaka, and he became his assistant instructor in his early twenties. At the age of twenty-five, he traveled around the country for musha-shugyo, and then returned to Annaka-han to succeed his father as kenjutsu shihan. His favorite technique was morote tsuki (two-handed thrust) and he was known as the kotengu ("Little Goblin") of Joshu. He was skilled at other arts as well, including spear, jujutsu, kusarigama and, of course, shurikenjutsu. From this, it is possible to surmise that he, at least, retained other areas of the Araki-ryu curriculum, the weaponry, at least, which was often passed down in oral transmission.

Shorei became well-known during the March riots of the early Meiji era, single-handedlly stopping the rioters at the Usui riverside.

At the inception of the Meiji period, the feudal domains were abolished, and Shorei gave up teaching martial arts and pursued farming. He became a prefectural assembly member in Meiji 16. In Meiji 23, his students from five of the old areas - Suruga, Kai, Iga, Sagami and Musashi -  dedicated a commemorative plaque on the top of Mount Fuji. Shorei was invited and dedicated the poem - "Shizumemasu kami no megumika Fuji no neno takaku waganamo araware nikeri."

There was a rumor, repeated in Skoss' Sword and Spirit, V. II by Saito Satoshi, the 4th generation headmaster of Negishi-ryu shurikenjutsu, that Negishi, after making a brave show, had proved a coward during his service in the Russo-Japanese war, and shamed, left Japan to live in America. This is almost surely false, belied by his continuous residence in the Annaka area, his service as an assemblyman,the loyalty shown by his hundreds of students and his quiet death in Japan on July 15th, Meiji 30, a number of years before this conflict. It is my conclusion that if this rumor actually existed during his lifetime, it must have been started by his political foes.  Japanese politics in the Meiji period was not only extremely violent, with political parties hiring gangs called soshi to intimidate both their opponents and ordinary citizens, it was extremely dirty politics as well. What better way to besmirch an honored patriarch and sword instructor (and his allies and descendants as well)  than to accuse him of cowardice? That Saito would repeat such a scurrilous rumor for public consumption is rather surprising--however, on another occasion, he voiced complaints that the surviving Negishi family was not willing to make their family annals accessible to him, which suggests that he was simply indulging in a continuation of ugly politics.

In fact, Annaka records describe Negishi passing away in  admirable fashion, his spirit and mind clear, composing two poems on his deathbed.

Shorei's designated successor was Okada Sadagoro, born in 1849. Okada began studying with Shorei at the age of eleven, and like others in his line, went to Edo as a teen to study Hokushin Itto-ryu under Chiba Michisaburo. Returning to Annaka, he became an assistant instructor in Meiji 3, but like Shorei, had to "give up the bamboo sword" in Meiji 4 when the feudal domain was abolished. After the Seinan war, however, there was a kenjutsu revival, and from Meiji 11, he traveled around giving swordsmanship demonstrations. It is unclear if he taught, merely demonstrated, or was part of a gekkiken kogyo (a troupe that gave exhibitions and took challenge matches).

Okada Sadagoro

Okada was a man of titantic strength, described as walking around with a rice bale dangling from each hand, and once picking up and carrying a bathtub while his wife, Retsu, was bathing. (She was described as an expert with a naginata: one wonders if he later paid for the joke). Okada, too, was expert with the morote tsuki and could thrust through boards with his shinai. He had the fearsome nickname of Oni Okada ("Devil Okada").  A later-to-be-famous swordsman, Takano Sazaburo fought a bout with Okada in place of Takano Mitsuma, his grandfather, and had his throat torn open by one of Okada's thrusts. Shorei subsequently prohibited him - as well as the Annaka lord - from using this technique in matches because of its danger. Okada comes across as a brawny, riotous, life-loving man.  Perhaps he loved life too much - he died of heavy drinking in 1895 at the young age of 47. He had over 2000 students during his career.  His dojo was taken over by Okada Matahachi.

Okada died two years before Negishi Shorei. The succession of Annaka-han Araki-ryu was then passed to Takei Shojiro, who became a student of Negishi Shorei at the age of eight in 1855. He studied in the Zoshikan for 14 years. He received a menkyo kaiden from Shorei in Meji 30, after his musha shugyo, and taught over 1500 of Shorei's students from Gunma, Nagano, Tokyo, Saitama and part of Kanagawa prefectures. He played a leading role in the development of kendo in Annaka.

Takei Tsunejiro

Takei was a small man, but he used a long shinai with an exceptionally long handle. His unique technique was to start in a kamae with his right shoulder forward, his feet in hanmi, and suddenly cut the waist of his opponent, while dropping to one knee and in a continuous motion, thrust from below to the throat. He survived longest of Shorei's great students, passing away in Showa 5 (1930).

Another leading student of Negishi Shorei was Yamanaka Shujiro, born in 1838. In 1883, he received the rank of daishi, which meant that he could teach in the place of the head instructor. He taught in many areas of Japan, with hundreds of pupils. He died in Meiji 39.

Annaka Araki-ryu Kenjutsu

The curriculum of Annaka-han Araki-ryu is quite small, and it is devoted to sword and short-sword. They retained some of the names of five of the Ryogu no Dan kata of mainline Araki-ryu, thereby maintaining a link to Atagoyama shrine. It is a reasonable inference that the kata were retained to encase principles considered unique to the Annaka-han's kenjutsu, but it was probably a variant on Hokushin Itto-ryu, and in late Edo and early Meiji, the nascent competitive martial sport of kendo.

Two core teachings were as follows:

  • The secret of martial skill is not the sword. It is only the free movement of the body. Learn well about the use of the body to avoid attack, and the mystery of stopping opponents without stopping them.
  • Other schools of swordsmanship have omote and ura (revealed and concealed) secrets, but from the beginning, our style has none. All pupils are told the seven articles from the start (see makimono). You must practice  100, then 1000 days. When your movements become natural and you can mentally visualize/anticipate how your opponent will move and what is in his mind, you will have learned the essence of this school.
Blood Oaths (Keppan) Associated with Annaka-han

Upon entry to the School

  1. Loyalty to your lord and love of your country is the essence of budo. Anyone who studies martial arts must not neglect training the mind and the body every day, and must not neglect training their spirit towards serving justice and courage
  2. Be respectful to your instructor, and do not act differently behind his back than you would to his face. Never betray him.
  3. Treat your fellow pupils with honesty, act towards them according to the expected social forms, be grateful to them and be modest.
  4. Simplicity in manners and lifestyle is the source of strength and health. Vanity is the source of weakness and infirmity. Do not be thoughtless and vain.

Upon receiving licensure

  1. A student of Araki-ryu must never hold a wicked mind towards his instructor
  2. You must never speak ill of other styles
  3. Treat your fellow pupils with honesty, act towards them according to the expected social forms, be grateful to them and be modest.
Lineage of Annaka Araki-ryu

1.   Araki Muninsai Minamoto Hidetsuna (荒木夢仁斎源秀縄)

2.  Mori Kasuminosuke Katsushige (森霞之助勝重)

3.   Yamamoto Kasuke Katsuyuki (山本嘉助勝之)

4.   Takeuchi Kuroemon Katsuyoshi (竹内九郎右衛門勝吉)

5.  Takahashi Yoshiemon Morihisa (高橋儀右衛門森久)

6.  Hōzaka Kurozaemon Yoshihisa (方坂九郎左衛門吉久)

7.   Maeda Saburoemon  (前田郎右衛門)

8.  Nagai Mokuya (永井杢弥)

9.  Amiyoshi Dotaku (阿佐美道宅)

10.  Negishi Jyoouemon Norinobu (根岸丈右衛門宣延)

11.  Negishi Jyoouemon Norimasa (根岸丈右衛門宣)

12.  Negishi Jyoouemon Noritoku  (根岸丈右衛門宣徳)

13.  Negishi Shorei (根岸松齢)

14.  Takei Shojiro (武井尚次郎), Sekiguchi Nobunori (関口信教),  Yamanaka Shujiro (山中), Negishi Kitsusaburo (根岸____三郎),Tomaru Isoshichi (都丸磯七),

14. Okada Sadagoro Sadamichi (岡田定五郎定道) - 15. Okada Matahachi (岡田又八), 15.   Mochida ____ (持田愛伴)