Written by Kagita Chūbee, 20th sōke of the Hōzōinryū
The Genealogy of Hōzōinryū Sōjutsu
As I already wrote in the May issue Hōzōinryū Sōjutsu was founded by Inei and subsequently developed into Japan's biggest Sōjutsu 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 Hōzōinryū who systematized and developed Inei's techniques further and further from generation to generation until the school had spread all over Japan.
The second headmaster of the school was Zeneibō Inshun. Inshun who was Inei's nephew was born in the year Tenshō 17 (1589). In the year Keichō 7 (1602) he entered the monastary and became a Buddhist monk. At that time Inei was already more than 80 years old. For this reason, so tradition has it, Inshun was instructed in Sōjutsu by an old monk from the Okuzōin, a monastary in the neighborhood of the Hōzōin, who was a direct disciple of Inei. Inshun put the teachings of the school which hadn't been systematized until then in order and established them as the binding style. Beneath Inshun gathered outstanding disciples who incited each other mutually in the pursuit of honing their skills even more. Amongst them were Nakagawa Hannyū, Shibata Kaemon, Takada Matabee, Hasegawa Kuranosuke, Isono Shume and Tanaka Kanbee who were called the six Tengus1.
The third headmaster of the school was Kakushunbō Insei, the fourth Kakuzanbō Inpū, the fifth Jōshikibō Inken and the sixth Kakujōbō Inkai. While thus the Hōzōinryū Sōjutsu was handed down from generation to generation in Nara, members of the school also founded and develeoped their own styles of spear fencing:
Nakamura Ichiemon Naomasa (1577 - 1652) reputedly was Inei's best student, whose disciple he became at the age of 14. In the year Keichō 10 (1605) when he was 29 years old he got his certificate of mastery in the art. Later in his life Naomasa served in the domains of Echizen2 and Fukui where his style was handed down for generations.
Takada Matabee Yoshitsugu (1589 - 1671) was the founder of the style of Hōzōinryū Takadaha Sōjutsu that we train today. He was born as the first son of the rural samurai Takada Kiemon who was in charge of the village Shirakashi in the Ahai district of the the province of Iga. In the year Keichō 8 (1603) when he was 14 years old he became the disciple of Nakamura Ichiemon Naomasa who granted him the Rokujūsankajō-no-mokuroku3 in the year Keichō 20 (1615). When in the 10th month of the year Kanei 14 (1637) the Shimabara Rebellion broke out he followed the invitation of Ogasawara Tadazane4 and went to Kokura5. In the second month of the following year he leaded a troop of spearmen and took the main tower during the attack on Hara castle. For this he was rewarded with a stipend of 700 Koku6. On the 11th day of the fourth month of the year Keian 4 (1651) accompanied ba his eldest Son Itsuki and his disciple Wakōji Shichibee he visited the Shōgun Iemitsu7 who was suffering from illness to entertain him with a demonstration of his skills. The Shōgung is said to have said at that time: "When you perform, Matabee, your voice resonates through the palace like thunder. Everyone present is impressed by your tremendous skills. And I, Iemitsu, forget about my illness." Nine days later on the 20th day of the fourth month8 the Shōgun Iemitsu passed away. Matabee had four sons. His third son, Yoshimichi, and his fourth son, Yoshimasa, stayed in Kokura. Yoshimichi became his father's successor and changed his name to Matabee. On the 23rd day of the first month of the year Kanbun 11 (1671) Yoshitsugu Sōhaku9 died at the age of 82. Beneath Yoshitsugu10 gathered brilliant disciples like Kuze Yamato no Kami Hiroyuki11, Mori Heizō Kiyomasatsuna, Kawabe Yaemon Moritsura or Fuwa Keiga, whose activities layed the foundation on which the Hōzōinryu starting from Edo spread widely over all the domains in Japan.
Beside these two branches of the style and the main school in Nara there were other branches like the Isonoha or the Oroshiha which spread nationwide and local styles like the Anekawaryū, the Uedaryū, the Aizuhan Takadaha, the Chiiryū, the Inshinryū, the Owariha, the Inōha, the Shinodaha or the Yoshidaha.
(First published in the Nara town magazine Ubusuna on August 5th 2009)