Don't consider the spear a thrusting but a striking weapon.
Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu

Founded in the middle of the 16th century by the Buddhist monk Hôzôin Kakuzenbô Hôin In’ei the Hôzôinryû is the oldest school specializing solely in the use of the spear that has survived until today.

The Hôzôinryû Takadaha (Takada branch of the Hôzôin school) was founded by Takada Matabê, a bushi (member of the warrior class), who had been a direct student of In’ei. Some 50 to 60 members of the art are still active worldwide practicing the art of fencing with the jûmonji kamayari (cross-shaped sickle-spear) at least once a week.

In 1976 the headquarters of the school returned to the city of Nara where it was originally founded. In addition to the Nara dojo there are dôjôs in Nagoya, Higashi-Ôsaka and in Hamburg, Germany (officially the Hamburg dôjô is a training facility of the Higashi-Ôsaka dôjô).

Today 35 kata (forms) are taught, learned and practiced in Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu. In these kata the suyari (straight spear) always confronts a kamayari (sickle spear), the weapon that has made Hôzôin spearmen famous.

With the kamayari one can do much more than just thrust. Thanks to the sickles (kama), the two side blades of the spear head, the opponent’s spear can be controlled, dominated and manipulated in a number of ways. It can be struck down, or thrown to the side, the sickle also allows the blade to slide along the shaft of the opponent’s spear targeting the opponent's leading hand. An old poem illustrates this versatility:

Tsukeba yari
Nageba naginata
Hikeba kama
Which can be translated as:
Thrusting it's a spear
Mowing it's a pole sword
It can scythe like a sickle
Ad it never fails to hit its target

Of course there is no ‘enemy’ or ‘adversary’ nowadays. And although some jiyugeiko in armour has recently been permitted kata training remains the core of the school. Katageiko is not antagonistic with suyari and kamayari cooperating to perform with the highest precision filling the forms with life. Spear training is physically demanding due to the low stance and the weight of the weapons. And it does develop a deep understanding of distance and timing, due to the different length of the spears used in Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu.

You can access more detailed information on the history of the school, the equipment used, its curriculum, events and more via the appropriate links in the main menu to the left.

English translation with the help of Matthew Preston
End of the Year 2010 Print E-mail

Presentation of the certificates
The certificates for the exams taken in early September of 2010 arrived in Germany quite soon, but got stuck at customs in the City of Lüneburg (many thanks to the customs team). As our friend M. Preston (Mokuroku) from England let us know he’d be visiting Hamburg in December, I decided to present the Shokyû, Jôkyû and Mokuroku certificates after a long German-English-Japanese training session on Saturday December 18th.

Together with the certificates Kagita Sôke sent two pieces of his own calligraphy. One depicting the motto of the school "daietsugen" (big eyes radiant with joy), the other – which was a BIG surprise - "Hôzôinryû sôjutsu Hanburugu dôjo" (Hamburg dôjô of the Hôzôinryû sôjutsu), declaring the Hamburg training facility an official branch.

Thank you very, very much! This presents a strong stimulus for all Hamburg dôjô members to train even harder in 2011.

gruppenbild dezember 2010
The Alster Dojo e.V. at Planten un Blomen in Hamburg Print E-mail

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of city partnership between Osaka and Hamburg the Alster Dojo e.V. gave demonstrations of all disciplines practiced in the club (Iaidô, Kendô, Kyûdô and Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu) at the Japanese Tea Pavilion on the grounds of Planten un Blomen in Hamburg.

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© 2009 Vladimir Gajic

The video of the complete Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu demonstration performed at this event can be found here. (Registered and logged in members only!)

Impressions of the Hôzôinryû Gasshuku in September 2008 Print E-mail
Here you find a couple of videos taken during the Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu seminar with Maeda Sensei in September 2008.
Tenshin Shôden Katori Shintôryû meets Hôzôinryû Takadaha Print E-mail

Read more... On Saturday, May 31th 2008 two of the oldest bujutsu ryûha of Japan met at the Alster Dojo e.V. in Hamburg, Germany: the Tenshin Shôden Katori Shintôryû, perhaps the oldest style overall, and the Hôzôinryû Takadaha which ist the oldest style of spear-fencing still existing. Of course the meeting was not antagonistic but had the purpose of learning from each other.

Where to train in Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu? Print E-mail

The best of course would be to train in Japan. There are three dôjôs, one in Nara, one in Higashiôsaka and one in Nagoya, where training is held regularly. Addresses, training hours and contact data can be found at the Japanese site of the Hôzôinryu.

adev Outside Japan the only place offering Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu training on a regular base is located in Hamburg/Germany:

Alster Dojo e.V.
Veilchenweg 34
22529 Hamburg
Tel. & Fax: 040 - 560 085 95

Training hours:
monday 17:00 - 19:00
thursday 17:00 - 18:00

Everyone interested in Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu is always welcomed to visit the regular training sessions but prior announcement of such a visit either by phone during the Sôjutsu training hours at the dôjô or here would be highly appreciated.

Additionally there is a long spear-weekend once a month, which does not only offer enough time to train the forms of all three levels with various partners, but also to do intensive exercises of basic techniques.

The weekend dates for 2018 are:
24/25 February
23/24/25 March - Seminar with Ichiya Sôke
28/29 April
19/20 May
23/24 June

all 14:00 - 18:00 (Sa) and 13:00 - 17:00 (Su) (longer on request)
All other dates for 2018 will follow asap.

The certificates have arrived! Print E-mail

Perspiration has been worthwhile!
All five new graduates
Now the graduations earned in September are "official"!

The shokyu, chûkyû und jôkyû diplomas issued by Kagita Sôke have arrived in Hamburg and were handed to the graduates on Monday, November 26th 2007 after training at the Alster-Dojo e.V.

Omedetô gozaimasu! (Congratulations!)

Exams in Hamburg Print E-mail

Shokyû exam
In September 2007 the first exams outside Japan in more than 450 years of history of the Hôzôinryû were held in Hamburg, Germany during the seminar with Maeda sensei.

There were two candidates for shokyû, two for chûkyû and one for jôkyû. All five of them passed their exams.

Including these newly graduated spearmen the list of graduates in Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu in Europe is as follows:

  • 1 mokuroku (Romania)
  • 2 jôkyû (England 1/Germany 1)
  • 2 chûkyû (Germany)
  • 2 shokyû (Germany)

In the future exams up to at least jôkyû shall be held in Hamburg during seminars led by japanese teachers on a regular basis.

Videos of the exams held in Hamburg Print E-mail
Written by Jürgen Seebeck   
Chûkyû exam

The links below will take you to videos of the shokyû und chûkyû exams held at the Alster Dojo e.V. in Hamburg, Germany during the Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu seminar led by Maeda Shigenori Sensei in September 2007.