Don't consider the spear a thrusting but a striking weapon.
Owarikanryû
Texte von Kagita Sôke
The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (1) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th Sôke (headmaster) of the Hôzôinryû

Happy new year.

I feel honoured to have the opportunity to write on the Sôjutsu of the Hôzôinryû and would be glad if you would follow me through the 12 episodes that will be published here in the course of this year.

The sôjutsu (the art of fencing with spears) of the Hôzôinryû like the kenjutsu (the art of sword fencing) of the Yagyû Shinkageryû is an old martial art (kobudô) which originated in Nara. The founder of the Hôzôinryû was Kakuzenbô Inei who lived at the Hôzôin which was a subtemple to the temple Kôfukuji in Nara. About 450 years ago Inei's spear crossed the reflection of the crescent moon on the the pond Saruzawa-no-ike. Tradition has it that this inspired him to develop techniques with a sickle-spear and finally let him found the Hôzôinryû.

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The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (2) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th Sôke (headmaster) of the Hôzôinryû

Yari and Hoko

This time I would like to write about the types of spears called yari and hoko.

Where is the difference between a yari and a hoko? In general one could say that the blades of hoko usually have sweeping cutting edges and an obtuse point whereas a yari has straight cutting edges and an acute point. But there is no unambiguous definition.

Already Arai Hakuseki (1657 - 1725), a scholar from the Edo period1 did research on the topic of yari and hoko. In his work "Tôga"2 we find the following passage: "When Tenji Tennô3 was still called (prince) Naka-no-Ôe he took to a long spear to slay the minister (Soga-no-) Iruka." But, as the author noted, it is not clear whether a yari or a hoko was used. In my opinion the best explanation would be that the same weapon was called hoko in ancient times and yari since the Nanbokuchô period4.

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The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (3) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû

Types of Spears

This time I would like to introduce the various types of spears.

Suyari:
This is the most common type of spear. As its name "simple spear" implies this is a spear with a straight blade. In ancient times this denomination was not used because then this was the only type of spear there was. The term suyari first came to be used during the Sengoku period1 when different types of spears as the kamayari or the kagiyari evolved.

Kamayari:
The blade of a "sickle-spear" has one or two "sickels" (additional blades) going off the main blade. Due to these additional blades the kamayari has an advantage over the suyari because with this kind of blade it is possible to cut with a draw, deflect an attack or beat down an opponents weapon in a circular movement. Concerning form, length or angle of the additional blades there had been the most different developments. At the end of the Sengoku period the kamayari came into the spotlight as the personal weapon of choise of the great generals.

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The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (4) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû

The Kôfukuji during the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages in Japan cover the time from the second half of the Heian period1 through the Kamakura period2 and the Nanbokuchô period3 up to the Muromachi period4 and the Sengoku period5 and are characterized by the transition of power from a hereditary monarchie to the warrior class. At the same time the old feudal system which centered around the imperial central government declined due to the rise of true local rulers like the military provincial administrators6 or land stewards7.

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The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (5) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû

Hôzôin Kakuzenbô Hôin Inei

Inei, the founder of the Hôzôinryû Sôjutsus, was born in the first year of Daiei (1521) as the second son of Nakamikado Tajima Inei who was a warrior monk of the Kôfukuji1. The Nakamikados were descendants of Prince Toneri2, who had been the fourth son of Emperor Tenmu3, and originally went by the family name Sakaguchi. Their ancestor Sakaguchi Musashi Nobutane had been a very strong and brave man. He loved the martial arts and was feared by everbody as the wild Musashi.

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The sickle-spear of the Hôzôinryû (6) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû

Yagyû and Hôzôin

The region called Yagyû1 was located 36 km away from Kyôto and more than 10 km away from Nara. In the East it bordered upon the province of Iga which made it very easy to obtain information about the powerful clans in all of Japan2. Due to its abundance of water the region was very fertile. Furthermore Yagyû together with Nara and Iga was an area that produced a lot of martial artists, amongst others the Yagyû clan with the sword, Hôzôin Inei and Takada Matabê with the spear, Bôan3 with naginata and spear, Heki Danjô Masatsugu4 with bow and arrow or the members of the ninja school Igaryû.

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The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (7) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th Sôke of the Hôzôinryû

Musashi and the Hôzôinryû  

The Hôzôinryû was the largest Sôjutsu school during the Edo period, but that its name ist still known nowadays presumably is due to Yoshikawa Eiji's1 novel "Musashi"2.

But what was the real Musashi3 story? After, at the age of 21, he had completely destroyed the Yoshioka clan4 in the fourth year of Keichô (1604) in the fights at the temples Sanjûsangendô and Rendaiji and at the pine tree at the temple Ichijôji, all in Kyôto, he immediately went to Nara and visited the Hôzôin…

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The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (8) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû

The Genealogy of Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu  

As I already wrote in the May issue Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu was founded by Inei and subsequently developed into Japan's biggest Sôjutsu school. One reason for this was of course the outstanding quality of the techniques of handling a sickle-spear which Inei had worked up. The other reason was the fact that a lot of excellent disciples gathered in the Hôzôinryû who systematized and developed Inei's techniques further and further from generation to generation until the school had spread all over Japan.

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The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (9) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû

The Return of the Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu to Nara  

There is a mysterious relationship between the Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu and the family Kagita. In the year Shôwa 33 (1958) my late father Chûzaburô constructed the first toll highway in Japan which lead through the Kôenzan, a mountain in the west of Nara. One feeding road to this highway was built next to the cemetary of the temple Byakugôji. On this occasion my father discovered the tombs of Hôzôin Kakuzenbô Inei an his successors. This was the beginning of the previously mentioned relationship.

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The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (10) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû

The Techniques of the Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu  

As I already wrote in the March issue one of the characteristics of the Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu is the use of a spear called Kamayari which has a blade in the form of a cross which sets it appart from the standard Suyari. Thanks to its cross-shaped blade the Kamayari can not only be used for thrusting but in a lot of ways. One can beat down an opponent's spear in a cutting movement or in a rotating movement or slide along the shaft of the opponent's spear. The Hôzôinryû became Japan's largest spear style because the effectiveness of these techniques were recognized. In this issue I would like to deal with the techniques in more detail.

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The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (11) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû

Kawaji Toshiakira and the Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu

Kawaji Toshiakira (1801 - 1868) was an outstanding character of the late Edo period. He held various important positions in the administration of the shogunate and is especially renowned as the signatory of the Treaty of Shimoda and as an advocate of the opinion that the four southern islands of the Kuril Islands were Japanese territory.

Beginning in 1846 this Kawaji Toshiakira served for five years as city magistrate of Nara. His government was a wise one. He implemented measures to help the poor for example as well as he let plant a lot of trees especially around the tempels Tôdaiji and Kôfukuji. These plantations became the basis for what is Nara Park nowadays. For everything he did the people of Nara ar still thankful today.

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The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (12) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû

Historical traces of the Hôzôinryû

As I already wrote in the previous issue, the Hôzôin was still in existence at the end of the Edo period and sôjutsu was still taught there then. But during the anti Buddhist movement at the beginning of the Meiji period its buildings were torn down and its land was expropriated. At that time regrettably its dôjô was lost as well as the archives of its writings. Thus there are only very few historic monuments related to the Hôzôinryû that are left today, which I would like to introduce below.

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