9 Schools of Bujinkan: Gikan Ryū Koppōjutsu

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Gikan Ryū is a Japanese martial art and one of the 9 Schools of the Bujinkan utilizing Koppō Jutsu (bone-breaking techniques). Like many of the ryū of 5 centuries ago, information is incomplete, missing and encrypted. There is however, enough historical information and current affirmation to trust it’s validity.

History of Gikan Ryū 鑑義

ninjutsu_gikanryuGikan Ryū Koppō Jutsu began as a hybrid mix of native Japanese martial arts and a Chinese style of Cho Gyokko (Gyokko Ryū). Very little is known about this school of the Bujinkan and it’s kata and kamae are rarely taught. Gi (righteousness, truth, fairness/loyalty, justice), kan (hall/space, thing to transfer the shape of things/mirror), ryū (school), is translated as the “School of Righteousness or Truth, Fairness, and Justice”; alternatively as the “School of Mirror Justice”. It’s name suggests an Example of Righteousness.

It was founded during the Eiroku Era (1588-1570) by Sonyu Hangan Gikanbo, the Daimyo of Kawachi No Kuni (Osaka) at the clan castle Uryujo, who was also know as Uryu Hangan Gikanbo. He was taught by master Akimoto Kanai Moriyoshi, and specialized in Koppo Jutsu, Hicho jutsu (techniques in jump) and Senban Nage (blade throwing). So in his own right, Gikanbo was a highly skilled badass. Gikan Ryū was transmitted to Gikanbo from Sougyoku Kan Ritsushi, (Soke of Gyokko and Koto Ryū), and contains specialized strikes, kicks, and throws. Very little is known about how Gikanbo met Ritsushi, but Gikanbo was no ordinary man.

Urdu Gikanbo’s motto was

“Bufu Ni Sente Nashi”
“From this side there is no strike”.

One translation suggests a peaceful yet immovable nature.

This method of waiting patiently to strike wasn’t due to necessity, Gikanbo’s punch is rumored to be so powerful that he once broke a sword; it was also rumored that there was a tessen (iron fan) hidden in his hand.

Gikan Ryū Soke Lineage

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Image expressing the Jōi (攘夷, “Expel the Barbarians”) sentiment.

The lineage of Gikan Ryū shows a transmission of the art to an “Uryu”, until Ishitani Takeoi Masatsugu in 1863. At the end of the Edo period, August 17th, 1863, the Sonnō jōi  尊皇攘夷 (Revere the emperor, expel the barbarians) rebellion arose from the Tokugawa shogunate’s refusal of the Emperor’s order to expel foreigners began a fierce battle in which Ginkanbo was shot but continued fighting until retreating after many sword cuts. He ended up near a temple where he was found by Ishitani Masatsugu who was on his way to join the battle when Gikanbo informed him it was over. Ishitani, a Soke of Tagaki Yoshin Ryū and Kukishinden Ryū, brought Gikanbo to Iga to recover where he, he 10th Soke of Gikan Ryū gave full transmission of the art (menkyo kaiden) to Ishitani.

Fast-forward to the Meiji Era and Ishitani is age 61 and finds employment at a family factory owned by Takamatsu Toshitsugu’s father. Takamatsu receives transmission of Gikan Ryū, Kukishinden Ryū, and Tagaki Yoshin Ryū from Ishitani. Interestingly enough, there was young a young Takamatsu in need to the transmission given by Ishitani, who on the other hand had no idea he would find someone able to receive what he had to offer. Life is beautiful and full of faith moments just like these when we move in rightenouness as Gikan Ryū suggests.

  • Sonyuhangan Gikanbo (Daimyo of Kawachi) also known as:
    Unryu Hangan Gikanbo — 1558-1570, Yeirouku era
  • Uryu Yoshimitsu — 1573-1592, Tensho era
  • Uryu Yoshimori — 1624-1644, Kan-ei era
  • Uryu Yoshichika — 1661-1673, Kambun era
  • Uryu Yoshitaka — 1688-1704, Genroku era
  • Uryu Yoshihide — 1751-1764, Horeki era
  • Uryu Yoshimori — 1789-1801, Kansei era
  • Uryu Yoshiaki — 1830-1844, Tenpo era
  • Uryu Yoshiyasu — 1861-1864, Bunkyu era
  • Uryu Gikan — 1865-1868, Keoi era
  • Ishitani Takeoi Masatsugu — approx death 1905
  • Ishitani Matsutaro Takekage — approx death 1911
  • Takamatsu Toshitsugu — b. 1887-d.1972
  • Akimoto Fumio — approx death 1962
  • Hatsumi Masaaki
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