Joseph Fichter


My friend Ed asked me recently, “What in the world is this Takenouchi Ryu you talk about all of the time?” I paused for a moment. This is a very good question that curiously defies an easy reply.

“Well, it is a Japanese koryu martial art founded in 1532 by Takenouchi Hisamori during the years of civil strife and war in Japan that stretched from roughly 1467 to 1603. Koryu can be translated as ‘old school’ or ‘old flow’.”

Ed was unimpressed. “That’s like telling me ice is cold. Is it aikido? Judo? Kendo? Those I have heard of.”

“No. Takenouchi Ryu is different than those. It was initially developed for survival on the medieval Japanese battlefield, not street self-defense or sport. Takenouchi Ryu uses a variety of weapons and grappling/jujutsu techniques. Some of the weapons you have probably heard of. Samurai sword (katana), short sword (the Takenouchi Ryu kogusoku), six foot staff (kenbo). Some may be more exotic such as the iron fan (tessen), sickle with weighted chain (kusarigama) and glaive (naginata).”

Ed looked a bit overwhelmed. “That’s a lot of stuff. Can’t you give me more of a nutshell version?”

“What Takenouchi Ryu is most known for are its grappling/jujutsu techniques, and its short sword techniques. These are unique and spawned other schools over the years. Since the school’s founding much has been added and refined by the various headmasters of the lineage. But these additions and refinements are more in the way of elaborations of principles contained in the art, not changes to it.”

Ed said, “It sounds like you need to be young and aggressive to do this.”

“Not at all Ed. Those of us training in Takenouchi Ryu range in age from teens to people in their seventies. Also, while the art was born from the demands of a period of near continuous warfare, it is not its primary purpose to groom deadly killing machines. On the contrary, while Takenouchi Ryu imparts a variety of martial skills, it also seeks to form us so that we may effectively offer our unique talents in service to our communities. For example, the headmaster of my school is a highly accomplished designer of Japanese gardens who was recently honored by the Emperor of Japan for his contributions to that field.”

Ed paused and then asked, “How do I begin?”

“We have a sanctioned Takenouchi Ryu study group here in Southern Oregon. I lead the group under the auspices of my teacher Wayne Muromoto, head of the Seifukan dojo in Honolulu, Hawaii. There is no charge for training. “

If you are interested in training or have any questions, please contact me at


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