History and Speculation: Araki-ryu Gunyo Kogusoku & Araki Shin-ryu
NOTE: The following essay owes a tremendous amount to my consultation with Steven Delany of the Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku. I take full responsibility, however, for all of the information – both history and speculation – in this piece.
Araki Buzaemon and his immediate successors
Two different ryu, Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku and (one line of) Araki Shin-ryu are associated with Araki Buzaemon Hisakatsu, a man otherwise unknown, but believed by these ryu to be related to Araki Muninsai.
According to the family of Sato Kinbei, who claimed a menkyo of Araki Shin-ryu, Araki Buzaemon lived in Bushu, Nakano Mura, (now Hachioji, in present day Saitama prefecture). He founded Araki Shin-ryu in 1626, a little more than half a century after the founding of the original Araki-ryu. The Sato family noted on a memorial website dedicated to Sato Kimbei that “it was rumored that Buzaemon was related to Mujinsai, but this is really not established.”
Both Araki-ryu Gunyo-Kogusoku and Araki Shin-ryu have an anomaly in their lineage. Both designate Araki Mujinsai as their founder, but Araki Shin-ryu and, until recently, Araki-ryu Gunyo Kogusoku then listed the next two generations blank, followed by Araki Buzaemon in the fourth generation.
Such blanks in the lineage are not unusual in Japanese ryu-ha. This often suggests the possibility that the person after the gap, in this case Buzaemon, created a new ryu inspired somehow by Muninsai, but separated by a few generations. If this scenario is true, at “worst,” the revelation came to him in a dream: rather than a mountain demon or shrine deity, the founder of the ryu receives a revelation from an ancestral warrior.
It is also quite possible that Buzaemon revived a tradition that only existed in records through incomplete transmission. For example, let us say that it is true that Buzaemon was a descendent of Araki Muninsai. There were tales or even records of the Araki-ryu in his area. Perhaps there were older men each of whom studied a portion of the ryu, but none were menkyo-kaiden. Buzaemon gathered together what he could and then, perhaps with other studies from unknown sources, made his own ryu.
To finish our compendium of possibilities, we do not know if Araki Buzaemon called what he taught as either Araki-ryu Gunyo-Kogusoku, Araki Shin-ryu or something else, the two ryu we are discussing both emanating from the same source. What follows is, at this point in time, my best guess.
Buzaemon’s Araki Shin-ryu was a school of 81 yawara (grappling/locking) and bojutsu. The history of this school is rather sparse. Apparently Sato Kinbei integrated some level of information he'd acquired in Araki Shin-ryu in his syncretic system called Daiwado. My informants state that the current practitioners of the Daiwado only identify one kata in their curriculum as Araki Shin-ryu, and they are not in possession of any densho.
According to Watatani Kyoshi in the BRDJ, 14th generation shihan, Hattori Kojiro was active in the Meiji period in Echigo, Shin Hotta. Also a menkyo in Jikishinkage-ryu, he refused to accept the end of the era of the bushi and was described as "training like a demon." Notwithstanding his ferocious reputation, he was a primary school teacher.
His successor, Sakamoto Kingo moved to Tokyo and opened up a jujutsu dojo called the Kobukan. Also a 2nd generation shihan of Shizen-ryu suijutsu (military swimming), he died in 1945.
1. 荒木夢仁斎源秀縄 Araki Muninsai Minamoto Hidetsuna
4. Araki Buzaemon Hisakatsu (荒木武左衛門久勝)
5. Shiono Shigezaemon Yasuyuki (塩野茂左衛門泰行)
6. Akabane Kazumata Minamoto no Shinrin (羽一間多源信隣)
7. Tsuji Rokuzaemon I Koretada (辻六左衛門尉是忠)
8. Hata Gonbei Tomiyasu (畑権平富保)
9. Fukui Ichirozaemon Masayoshi (福井市郎左衛門尉正義)
10. Fukui Ichirozaemon Masa __ (福井市郎左衛門尉正脩)
11. Fukui Ichirozaemon Masakuni (福井市郎左衛門尉正邦)
13. Oukawara Shoemon
14. Iida Shimetaro, Hattori Kojiro (服部広次郎)
15. Sugiura Juugou, Sakamoto Kingo (坂本謹吾)
16. Okura Chugo (大倉忠吾)
17. Sato Kinbei (佐藤金兵)
Araki-ryu Gunyo Kogusoku also traces its lineage from Araki Mujinsai through Araki Buzaemon Hisakatsu. As with Araki Shin-ryu, Buzaemon was followed by Shiono Yasuyuki, and then Akabane Kazumata Minamoto No Shinrin. The Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku oral tradition reveals an anomaly in the two ryu histories. Akabane is known to have lived in the early 1800’s. It beggars the imagination that there would be only three generations spanning a period of close to 200 years between Buzaemon and Akabane.
Araki-ryu Gunyo Kogusoku is usually considered to be an iaijutsu and sojutsu school, as these are the areas of the curriculum most commonly presented in public. Quite unusually, this ryuha trains in gyaku-nito (kodachi in the right hand and tachi in the left) in both their iaijutsu and kenjutsu. Additionally, extensive usage of the kodachi for close quarters is advocated in a number of kata.
The curriculum also includes many sections that show a surprising overlap with the mainline Araki-ryu that descended through Mori Kasuminosuke. However, these sections of the Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku makimono have a rather 'synthetic' quality. What I mean is that the mainline Araki-ryu, in disparate geographical areas hundreds, even thousands of miles apart, has a very clear logic, in which each section is a progression of the one before. The curriculum is arranged in almost identical fashion in all these areas. There is not this clear androgogical organization in these sections of the Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku.
In almost all Araki-ryu lines, Ryogu no Dan, one of the most important sections of the curriculum, has eight kata, the first character of each being a character from the name of the primordial shrine of Araki-ryu, Atago-yama-dai-gon-gen-shu-go. Only in Kozuke Araki-ryu are the last two characters are combined to form a single seventh kata, Shugo. Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku also has a set entitled Ryogu no Dan, but the ten kata listed are totally different names. (One kata, Futonaganomoto, having a name very close to that of Ounaganomoto, the fifth kata in the mainline’s Goho no Dan). However, there is also a set called Shingi no dan, and the kata in this set are, character for character, the same as the seven kata in Kozuke Araki-ryu Ryogu no dan. As this is unique to this particular line, we therefore have established a link between them.
In another section – Hitoshichi no Dan – three of the five kata have names unique to Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku. The second kata name, however, uses different characters to name the a mainline kata - Kanken no nesame. The third kata in the gunyo-kogusoku set is Fukai no Shinshitsu. It is only in Kozuke that these two kata is in the Hitoshichi set. In every other Araki-ryu faction, they were included in the Hoben no Dan, further evidence of a Joshu/gunyo-kogusoku connection.
Right in the middle of the curriculum, surprisingly, are two sets: Sankyoku and Happo no Dan. In every other line, these two sets are invariably the very first sets in Araki-ryu Torite-Kogusoku.
Following this is Bakken no Dan, which, in most arrangements, usually comes after Hitoshichi no Dan. Only one of the names, Chidori, is the same. The other kata – totaling only three - are different.
The overlap of kata names is too wide for there to have been anything less but a significant exchange of information. It is notable that there is, at least here, no mention of the Araki-ryu’s gokui kata.
Another surprising link between Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku and Kozuke Araki-ryu is that three of the most characteristic weapons of the latter: the nagamaki, the chigiriki and the kusarigama are also included in the curriculum of former. As the chained weapons, in particular, are otherwise unique to Kozuke Araki-ryu, this further suggests a connection.
According to Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku lore, the chained weapons were incorporated into the ryu by Akabane Kazumata. Furthermore, the oldest makimono in the possession of the Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku is that of Akabane, from the early 1800’s, and it does include tachi, iai, bo, nagamaki, kusarigama, chigiriki, nawa and torite. As outlined above, this is so remarkably close to that of Kozuke Araki-ryu that it is hard to imagine any other explanation than that Akabane established a relationship with one or more shihan of either the Kozuke Araki-ryu or a similar Araki-ryu line in Bushu (several lines of Bushu Araki-ryu are known - but we do not yet know what their curriculum was).
Speculative Theories of the Origins of the Ryu of Araki Buzaemon
Based on the timeline and speculative history we have outlined, it would make complete sense if Araki Buzaemon would have named his ryu Araki Shin-ryu. Forty or fifty years after Araki Muninsai or his successors established Araki-ryu, Buzaemon would be stating that he was creating a 'new' Araki-ryu.
It is my theory that Akabane Kazumata was already an expert at Araki Shin-ryu, and even had successor students. It is likely that he had even licensed some of them. I believe that he made a relatively short trip to another area of Bushu or even to Kozuke (Gumma), and audited or formally studied with a practitioner of Kozuke Araki-ryu.
If I am correct, this would authenticate the practice of nagamaki, chigiriki and kusarigama weapons within Kozuke Araki-ryu back to the early 1800’s, further back than any formal documents within Kozuke. The 'sixth/eighth' generation headmaster of Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku, Matsuo Sakuzaemon Yasunobu owned a sleeved Chigiriki, easily over 120 years old, which is still in the Matsuo family’s possession. Given that Kozuke uses a chigiriki with a simple swivel, rather than the sleeved version used by Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku, it is possible that Akabane learned the simpler weapon, and a later shihan converted to the sleeved form of the weapon, which was subsequently developed in the Bakamatsu-period by the Kiraku-ryu, also of Kozuke. In other words, such cross-training may not have been a one-time event.
The nagamaki of the Araki-ryu Gunyo Kogusoku, is of a different morphology than that of Kozuke Araki-ryu, using the 'sword-like' form, with a four shaku ovoid shaft and a blade about two shaku, seven sun. Kozuke Araki-ryu uses what could also be termed an o-naginata, similar to that of Kashima Shinto-ryu. The kata are totally different.
Gunyo-kogusoku is a rather unusual appellation – it essentially means, “military use close quarter grappling.” Given that Araki Shin-ryu was essentially a typical Edo period jujutsu school, I suggest that Akabane found the new information he was taught in Kozuke to be revolutionary. Therefore, he chose a new name, “military grappling” to distinguish it from the more “civilian-type” jujutsu he had previously learned and taught. In adding all sorts of weapons and old-school torite kata, Akabane would be 'making a statement' in calling his system “gunyo” – a rather modern word, that I’ve never seen applied to any other ryu.
This speculation is supported by oral tradition within Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku. Akabane's is oldest densho held by Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku. They credit Akabane with augmenting the syllabus of the ryuha with chain and polearm weapons in Bunka year 5 (1808). In fact, Akabane has been referred to as the chuko no so (initiator of a renaissance) of the ryu, but in some texts and oral tradition, he is credited with introducing everything.
If I am correct, why is Akabane’s name not listed within any known mainline Araki-ryu lineage? Araki-ryu gunyo-koguosku was probably the product of his musha shugyo, so to speak, that journey an almost finished warrior takes to complete himself. It is very possible that Akabane and whomever he met treated each other as equals, exchanging material. Neither was the other’s student. It should be noted that most of the weapons kata are totally different from that of Kozuke Araki-ryu. The spear and sword forms are both powerful and powerfully different. This could have preceded Akabane, or been developed by him or his successors.
The copies of the makimono I have viewed of the Araki-ryu gunyo-kogosoku are interesting because they appear more like notes as a formal makimono, where things, taught 'out of order,' are put down as they are learned. After he returned home, Akabane either used some of the kata names and reworked and remixed them with his own Araki Shin-ryu. It is also conceivable that some of the kata names and teaching order simply got jumbled over time.
It is also probable that the Araki Shin-ryu continued, and his successor(s) were students he taught in his younger years. I have been unable to locate an Araki Shin-ryu mokuroku – none may, in fact, exist. A lot of questions will be answered if the names of its jujutsu kata bear any resemblance to Araki-ryu torite-kogusoku, or if they are truly a “shin” ryu.
Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku – Modern Times
Matsuo Kempu, the remarkable 'eighth/tenth' generation shihan was born in Kumamoto, historically the realm of the Kuroda han. His grandfather, Matsuo Sakuzaemon Yasunobu was a zekkoku menkyo in Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku, as well as an Kuroda-han kenjutsu shinanyaku for a number of years before the Meiji restoration. This leads to one more historical puzzle as Akabane and Shiono seem to have lived in Bushu - where Araki Shin-ryu remained. How and when did the Matsuo family become associated with a Kyushu domain, half a country away?
Kenpu studied Shindo Muso-ryu jo under Shiraishi Hanjiro in the first two decades of the 20th century, making him a contemporary of Shimizu Takaji, the famous jodo teacher. He also learned Araki-ryu gunyo-kogusoku from his grandfather. He moved to the Kanto area sometime in his mid-twenties, and started studying Muso Shinden-ryu Iaido under Nakayama Hakudo, also continuing his jo studies with him. He opened an inn in Yokohama as well as his dojo, the Shinkenkan. He became an officer during WWII, ending the war as a colonel. After the war, he was awarded Kongen no Maki and a 9th dan from Nakayama in Muso Shinden-ryu.
Kempu died in 1986 without designating a successor. His teaching was carried on by his closest associate, Yaguchi Tamotsu, but he, too, died in 2003, leaving authority in the ryu spread among a number of senior practitioners. A number of them have learned the entire mokuroku, but among them, one or another man is considered the most expert at various portions of the curriculum.
Personal note: I saw Matsuo Kempu in the early 1980's. He was a remarkable character, quite unlike anyone else I'd ever seen in koryu. He did a straight-forward iai demonstration followed by something out of a medicine show - with his arms tied tightly, he somehow drew a 5 1/2 foot sword from his waist, claiming that this secret technique was practiced by samurai to prepare for a being taken prisoner. That a samurai would have such a huge sword on his waist in the first place, and that it would be left in his belt as a prisoner made the whole thing utterly unrealistic - but that he actually could draw it was unbelievable.
1. Araki Mujinsai Minamoto no Hidenawa
4. Araki Buzaemon Hisakatsu (荒木武左衛門久勝)
5. Shiono Yasuyuki (塩野茂左衛門泰行)
6. Akabane Kazumata Minamoto no Shinrin (羽一間多源信隣) (1808年)
7. Komatsu Kizaburo (小松廣三郎) (１８４５年)
8. Matsuo Sakuzaemon Yasunobu (松尾作左衛門安信) (１８６２年)
9. Katsuno Akio (勝野秋雄) (１９０２年)
10. Matsuo Kempu (d. 1986) (松尾剣風)