Traditional Japanese martial arts are divided into gendai budo (modern) and koryu budo or kobudo (ancient). Gendai budo refers to forms that were established after the Meiji restoration (1868), an era of major modernization in Japan, while kobudo refers to systems founded prior to that period.
The Japanese word kobudo consists of two characters; ko (ancient) and budo (martial arts or ways). Kobudo styles or ryu follow traditions developed in ancient times; utilize the classical weapons of sword, spear, bow, and minor weapons such as the naginata (halberd), kusari-gama (sickle and chain), shuriken (throwing knives), staffs of various lengths, the sai, kama, tonfa and others.
Kobudo-ryu differs from gendai budo in a variety of ways. Significantly, ancient styles do not share the kyu – dan ranking system of modern styles. Generally, it utilizes a graduated methodology beginning with sho-den (introductory level), chu-den (intermediate level), oku-den (advanced level studies), culminating with menkyo kaiden (certificate of mastery). Additionally, many kobudo styles maintain strict secrecy of their methods, rarely make public demonstrations, and accept students only with a proper introduction. Whereas, modern styles such Kendo and Judo are based on open practice where all are welcome to join.
Ryushin Shouchi Ryu
Ryushin Shouchi Ryu is a school of kobudo (ancient martial arts) specializing in iaijutsu (the art of drawing and cutting) founded by Kawabata Terutaka and is composed of over 60 kata (prearranged solo forms), and iai kumitachi (two man bokken training). The origins of the iaijutsu kata can be traced to the Japanese swordsmanship schools of Katori and Kashima. The current headmaster of the Ryushin Shouchi Ryu is Yahagi Kunikazu.
In 2006, Kawabata Terutaka established the Ryushin Jigen Ryu, a system of kobudo specializing in iaijutsu composed of over 60 kata and a series of iai kumitachi. The origins of the iaijutsu kata can be traced to the Japanese swordsmanship schools of Katori and Kashima, which derive their techniques from proven battlefield experiences, and have been passed down from master to student for over 500 years. According to Kawabata, the katas preserved in the Ryushin Shouchi Ryu are the accumulation of wisdom, inventions, and the intents of the masters who lived hundreds of years ago. Kawabata has endeavored rigorously to preserve the integrity of these katas, which brings to life the way in which samurai fought during the Sengoku and Bakumatsu periods. In addition to these forms of training, Kawabata also places a strong emphasis on tameshigiri (cutting); a practice that is performed on a regular bases at his dojo- Seiseikan.
On the 1st of January in 2008, Kawabata relinquished his position to his senior student, Yahagi Kunikazu.
In 2011, to clarify the purpose of the school and dojo in cultivating the mind and conditioning the body through rigorous training, the original name of the school, Ryushin Jigen Ryu, was changed to Ryushin Shouchi Ryu.
Today, the Ryushin Shouchi Ryu is practiced across the globe with several dojos in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Every year, Yahagi makes official trips to conduct training courses abroad, where he receives the warm support of his overseas students.