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Brief introduction about History of Ryukyu Kobujutsu and our Society


Ryukyu Kobujutsu, the ancient martial art of Ryukyu Islands, consists of "Toshu-jutsu" (empty hand techniques) and "Emono-jutsu" (weapon techniques). Nowadays they are generally considered as two different arts - the former known as "Karate" and the later "Ryukyu Kobujutsu".

Eight kinds of weapons are used in Ryukyu Kobujutsu - Bo, Sai, Tonfa, Nunchaku, Kama, Tekko, Tinbe and Surujin. Each weapon, with its own characteristics, embodies elements and techniques of Ryukyu martial arts. Most surviving katas were created several hundred years ago, up to two hundred years ago. The footprints of old masters reminds us that to study the old is to learn the new.

The first recorded history of Ryukyu Kobujutsu was about seven hundred years ago, when the above-mentioned weapons were used in a 100-year war, during which the islands were divided among three rival chiefs. The golden age of Ryukyu Kobujutsu was from the 17th to 19th centuries, producing great masters such as Soeishi, Sakugawa and Chatanyara etc. However, it then lost its popularity, though the tradition was maintained by a small number of practitioners. The lack of knowledgeable instructors also contributed to the crisis of losing this precious tradition.

At the beginning of Taisho Era (1912-26), some masters, who were deeply concerned about the abysmal decline of Ryukyu Kobujutsu, made great efforts to preserve and promote the art. The most noteworthy among them was Master Shinken Taira, a disciple of Master Moden Yabiku. Taira founded an association to preserve and promote Ryukyu Kobujutsu in 1940 and spent his life compiling traditional weapon katas. Totally 42 weapon katas were comprehensively compiled.

Taira taught all the forty-two traditional katas of the eight weapons to his most distinguished pupil, Gansho Inoue. Following the order of Taira, Gansho Inoue put together a comprehensive system, including the usage, basic kumites and applications of each weapon. Our society preserves and promotes all the forty-two katas as well as the system created by Gansho Inoue. Twenty-two of the forty-two katas are for bo, which is the best-studied weapon and the crown jewel of Ryukyu Kobujutsu. The bo katas are called "c no kon".

Our society is a member of Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai and Nihon Kobudo Kyokai. Both parties are the largest legitimate national organizations for the preservation and promotion of traditional Japanese martial arts. We promote authentic Ryukyu Kobujutsu by participating in many events, both in Japan and overseas, and organizing various events of our own.

The current President is Kisho Inoue, and Sohonbu (headquarters) is located in Tokyo. Japanese branches include Shimizu, Fujinomiya, Meiji University Shiunjuku Kobudo Club, Wakayama, Fujisawa, Kodaira, Shunseikan, Ojima, Shizuoka, Kawaguchi, Ichikawa and others. Our overseas branches are in South Africa, Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Russia, Belgium, Mauritius, Germany, Greece, Denmark and the USA etc.

The ultimate goal of bujutsu, whether it is weapon or empty hand, is to achieve complete control of body and mind. Through continuous training, we endeavour to find the Way and learn how to get on in the world. With self-confidence and conviction cultivated through the training, we hope to contribute to the enhancement of courtesy and good faith in human society.

In terms of mastering martial art skills, one should spare no efforts to grasp the essence of kobujutsu and seek the way in the truest sense, where the mind, the technique and the body become one. The only way to achieve this is through training, without separating theory and practice, without being prejudiced, and without having an exclusive attitude.

It is important to make efforts to seek the true way of Bujutsu for mind, body and art. Only way to acquire the skill and to achieve the goal is to continue hard training and practice.

One cannot comprehend the true significance of Ryukyu Kobujutsu by learning only karate or only weapons. We should never forget that the two are closely connected with one another, like two wheels on each end of axle. Therefore, Yuishinkai, founded by Gansho Inoue in 1948 and succeeded by Kisho Inoue, strives to preserve and promote its karate system, including eighty traditional katas, taijutsu (basic techniques such as "sabaki" and "kuzushi") and relevant kumites.

We sincerely hope to contribute to the promotion of Kobujutsu and to fulfill our duty to hand down this great art of Kobujutsu, which we inherited from our pioneers and late masters, to the future generations.