Antony Cundy

Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo (c)

Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan: Part 6 Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo (c) Copyright !!"# $y Antony Cundy. This article appeared in the %aga&ine Kendo World# 'olu%e # (u%$er

The a$ility to )uic*ly %o+e a ,eapon fro% a neutral state into an aggressi+e or defense
%o+e%ent has al,ays $een of great interest to the ,arrior- Correspondingly# the arts of the fast dra,# +ariously called Iai.utsu or /atto.utsu# ha+e held an i%portant place in the curriculu%s of the co%prehensi+e classical %artial traditions of JapanThe tradition that ,e focus on this ti%e o,es %uch of its fa%e and notoriety to the ,hi% of an author of cartoon scripts# ,hich ha+e $eco%e fa%ous the ,orld o+er as the 01one Wolf and Cu$2 series- 3nd yet the actual tradition is a realistic# practical and refined syste% of co%$at for on and off the $attlefield that holds at its core the practice of iai.utsu-

Origins Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo# the tradition2s for%al title# ,as founded $y 4i%a 5oichi&ae%on Kageno$u (6"778666") in around 666"- 5oichi&ae%on ,as $orn in the 9e,a fiefdo% to 4i%a Saigu a priest at the Junisha :ongen Shrine- Sadly# the actual sight of the shrine and the gra+e of the founder are no longer +erifia$le as they ,ere $oth destroyed $y landslide in the 6;th century3s a child 5oichi&ae%on studied the s,ords%anship of the /o*uden Ryu# founded $y Tsu*uhara /o*uden# as ,ell as a for% of .o.utsu practiced $y 5a%a$ushi# %ountain ,arrior priests# called Kongo Jo JohoIt ,as in the Spring of 5oichi&ae%on2s 6;th year that he ,as to encounter a ne, and startling art# ,hen his father2s friend Sa*urai :oroe%on (ao%itsu ca%e to +isit the fa%ily- /eing reno,ned in the local area for his %artial s*ills 5oichi&ae%on as*ed (ao%itsu for a friendly duel# ,hich ,ould $e presided o+er $y the for%er2s father# a challenge (ao%itsu happily accepted3t the appointed ti%e 5oichi&ae%on faced his opponent in a chudan posture and (ao%itsu in his ya%a$ushi li*e attire# strangely ,ith his s,ord thrust through his $elt# placed his hand on the s,ord2s tsu*a- /oth co%petitors then ad+anced to the critical distance- 5oichi&ae%on# feeling suppressed $y his opponents poise and unusual ,ay of carrying the s,ord retreated one step to assu%e a .odan *a%ae- /ut# in that +ery %o%ent (ao%itsu loosed his $lade sending it flying under 5oichi&ae%on2s guard and stopping it sharply in front of his face0That2s enough#2 called 4i%a Saigu and the encounter ,as o+er- It ,as an e<hi$ition of iai.utsu that ,ould change 5oichi&ae%on2s life6 de ;

orn his oath to create a ne.ould +oyage to different areas to test their %artial s*ills against those of other traditions.5oichi&ae%on sa.The essence of our tradition# and the attain%ent of an unassaila$le position# co%es fro% cutting do. i%%ediately after his re+elation.ere the for%s of .=e na%ed his tradition Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo# Suio utili&ing the characters for .hile *neeling in front of a shrine2s altar# he had a +ision of a sphere in .hich .ed to de+elop his o.hite gulls floating .ords%anship as a for% of a$lution to the gods and his o.It .ord ar%.ater and gull# and placed .ord is still in the sca$$ard# stifling our opponent2s actions and achie+ing +ictory through not de .ith the deitiesWhen he faced an opponent 5oichi&ae%on .hile the s.ere fleeing the .hich .ho .=a+ing gained a degree of understanding of the art fro% (ao%itsu# 5oichi&ae%on +o.entieth night that 5oichi&ae%on gained enlighten%ent .ithout fear or conscious thought/ased on his +ision 5oichi&ae%on created the traditions 6? core techni)ues# a figure ta*en fro% the .hen# .enty years had past since 5oichi&ae%on had s.ithout conscious thought on .ays ai%ed to perfor% aiuchi (lit: %utual stri*e)# .as not a +oyage to gain +ictories and con)uests# rather a test of his a$ility to achie+e a state of selflessness.ith the 4i%a fa%ily for the ne<t @ %onths in order to i%part the outline of =ayashi&a*i2s teachings to the eager young 5oichi&ae%on.n $ody as a +ehicle to achie+ing a har%oni&ation . syste% of iai# years in .ould force his opponents to retire or face certain death5oichi&ae%on stated that CAur s. areas of hea+en surrounded $y @6 $irds of earth represented in a %andala that 5oichi&ae%on dre.It is $elie+ed though that this .utsu)# (aginata# Koguso*u (a for% of grappling) and .as during this e<cursion that he %et Sohei# .as in the %iddle of that t.rath of Ada (o$unaga# fro% .ithin its teachings the arts of Iai# Kenpo (an alternate na%e for *en.ater.n our opponents . the practice of s.It .in $y tric*ery or fancy techni)ues# rather he actually a student of the iai inno+ator and founder of the =ayashi&a*i Ryu# =ayashi&a*i Jinsu*e Shigeno$u (6"">866!?) and re%ained .o.ords%anship co%es fro% the %ountain ascetics.ho% 5oichi&ae%on learnt a syste% of $attlefield naginataT.ould ne+er atte%pt to . found he could .arriors .Antony Cundy Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo (c) (ao%itsu .arrior %on*s fro% 4t.n syste% 5oichi&ae%on continued to tra+el to test $oth his faith in the gods and his s.utsuB+en after achie+ing enlighten%ent and founding his o.n syste% of iai $y searching the deepest le+els of this %artial discipline.hich he no.ent on his first 4usha Shugyo a tra+eling for% of trial $y co%$at in .=e ran out into the shrine2s garden and gra$$ed a $o*uto .ield in any direction .ing against a tree in the precincts of the shrine and in the e+enings *nelt $efore an altar and prayed for guidance fro% the deitiesTo ad+ance his studies further 5oichi&ae%on .=iei .It is said that he spent his days dra.hich he had polished hi%self $y day and $y night.=e tra+eled to such places as A%ine# Toga*ure# Anta*e# Katsuragi and Tateya%a.hich . .

ords%an 4i%a ca%e to Tsuya%a in 4isa no Kuni and gathered students there to teach iai.o to teach not only %artial techni)ues $ut also taught of the uni+erse through a =ea+en and Barth 4andala that he had hung on its .all.?@ the follo.alternating the chain s.In the $oo* entitled 0:e*i*en Sodan2 pu$lished in 6.These are a set of " 5o# aggressi+eGpositi+e techni)ues# and " In# passi+eGrecei+ing techni)ues.The shape of the sic*le used in @ de .=earing of 3sada2s reply Kageno$u reali&ed his great s*ill and .Shin&ae%on .th So*e of the Suio Ryu# 5oshino 5aichiro Sadatoshi# as .inning or losing# achie+e a pure and unfettered %ind and attain unification . hi% to dra.ith .eights attached at $oth ends) called the 4asa*i RyuShin&ae%on too* .While engaged in co%$at# detach yourself fro% all thoughts of .ell as a student of 5oshida Shigesae%on Sadatoshi# in turn a senior student of 4asa*i Taro 9ayu Toshi%itsu the founder of a syste% of %anri*igusari (a chain .ord.ielding hands.ith only those .ere too ad+anced for a $eginner to co%prehend and so added these ten techni)ues so that those less fa%iliar .e+er it is ad%itted that 3sada2s .een the t.utsu and the syste% has $een taught in con.inging and sic*le .The syste% itself contains soon arranged $et.ords stri*e right to the heart of iai and the story is often )uoted $y %e%$ers of the tradition as proof of the founder2s e<istenceSucceeding 5oichi&ae%on# his son 5ohachiro Kagenaga added a further 6! techni)ues to the tradition .ith s.ords%anship could de+elop their $asic s*ills $efore atte%pting the %ore ad+anced central techni)uesThe tradition passed do.3t the age of 67 he retired fro% acti+e teaching# passing responsi$ility to his son and heir 5ohachiro# li+ing out another t.7'ery little has $een . are you going to $eat (4i%a2s) IaiF2 To .enty years $efore peacefully passing a.3t this ti%e a ri+al teacher called 3sada Kuro$ei .ritten of the Suio Ryu in literature# $oth a student of the .n in relati+e o$scurity until the ti%e of the >th So*e# Eu*uhara Shin&ae%on Kagenori.utsu.ith the Suio Ryu to this day# . .as already teaching in the area and a %atch .ords as his e+idence reali&ed the futility of a %atch and retired fro% the Tsuya%a area2In all the records of the Suio Ryu# including those co+ering the periods of 5oichi&ae%on2s tra+els# there is no %ention of his $eing in Tsuya%a or of any proposed %atch . separate *ata designed to $e practiced on $oth sides of the $ody# i-e.hich to this day represent the Shoden# or initiate le+el of techni)ue.hat he had $een taught of the 4asa*i Ryu .5ohachiro $elie+ed that the techni)ues his father had created .unction .ay at the age of .eight and chain techni)ues and added a *a%a# or sic*le# into the e)uation.e+er there is one story that is often referred to regarding the founder.ith 3sada=o.=e na%ed his syste% 4asa*i Ryu Kusariga%a.o.hich 3sada replied that to $eat an iai e<ponent one %ust attac* the %an and not allo.Antony Cundy Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo (c) the story is told0Ero% the Bastern pro+inces the s.ith the gods-D 5oichi&ae%on used his spacious do.Ane of 3sada2s students as*ed of hi% it is %ore correctly referred to as 4asa*i Ryu Eu*uhara =a Kusariga%a.

o that 4itsuyasu created and .hether $eing pushed# pulled or used to stri*eThe Suio Ryu .hich . Kage techni)ues# .hich illustrate ti%e and again the re%ar*a$le unification of its principles and %o+e%ents across .3t his passing at the age of .These techni)ues offer counters and pro$le% sol+ing ans.ith a corresponding > *age +ariations.hich still acts as the head)uarters of the Suio Ryu# the =e*iun*an (lit: =all of the /lue Cloud)=e also# interestingly# presented 4itsuyasu .as staying at an inn in =a%a%atsu City# Shi&uo*a Prefecture# .ith a 4en*yo license in Kendo.a no Kensei2 (lit: 9i+ine S.> *ata in the Tachiiai (lit: standing iai) and > techni)ues in the Kuyo *ata# a series of for%s that see the practitioner perfor% their techni)ues fro% sei&aThere are in addition a series of 6. .as $eing run $y the Katsuse fa%ily .eapon typesIn the iai portion of the curriculu% there are 6! techni)ues at the initiate le+el de+eloped $y the nd So*e 4i%a 5ohachiro.=an$ei .hich ..n to the present day .ers to the nu%erous +aria$les that can $e found in the practice of the Kuyo and Tachiai *ata.uncti+e syste%s ha+e $een passed do.ith (a*aya%a =a*udo# often referred to as introduced into the Katsuse fa%ily $y the 6@th So*e 4i&u%a =an$ei Kagetsugu.=an$ei spent his entire e<tended stay teaching 4itsuyasu the techni)ues of the tradition until he finally passed o+er the seals and scrolls of the tradition in 6>@!# recogni&ing Katsuse 4itsuyasu as the 6?th So*e of the Suio Ryu=a+ing %o+ed to To*yo to further his *endo training# 4itsuyasu 9an =anshi license in *endo and iaido# as .ho pro+ided the na%e and calligraphy for the do.odoThe teachings of the Suio Ryu and its the instruction and pro%ulgation of its arts is o+erseen $y the 6"th So*e Katsuse 5oshi%itsu Kagehiro.Eurther# there are a series of passi+e and aggressi+e techni)ues outside of the %ain curriculu% called the 5a%i series and further a set of > *u%i iai (lit: paired iai) *ata .ords%an of the Sho.=e is also recogni&ed as the 6 th So*e of the 4asa*i Ryu Eu*uhara =a- Curriculum The Suio Ryu has a daunting range and nu%$er of techni)ues in its curriculu%# the techni)ues of . in 6>> # Katsuse 4itsuyasu Kage%asa held the .Antony Cundy Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo (c) the syste% is uni)ue in that it is shaped so that it is a$le to cut .ell as a 7th 9an Kyoshi license in .a Bra) .hen the young Katsuse 4itsuyasu caught his eye and he re%ar*ed to 4itsuyasu2s father that his son had great potential as a %artial artist.ere for%erly taught only to the successor of the tradition $ut ha+e recently $een %ade a+aila$le to all practitioners.oyed a strong relationship .There is also a set of techni)ues that are only taught to the successor of the tradition .hich are supposed to represent the +ery essence of the Suio Ryu2s teachings- ? de .

hose precise e<planations for perfor%ance are reser+ed for only the %ost senior of students and are trans%itted in poe% for%In the o%ote +ersion of Tatsuna%i the shidachi sits .aiting for the opponent to initiate a counter# sei&es the opportunity to .ith the *nees. Kenpo *ata# 66 A%ote and Hra .ith the tsu$a in line .It is $elie+ed that if you are a$le to dra.ill certainly $e a$le to dra.ould $e no situation in . .a+e that literally rises up $efore crashing do.hich the .There are also @ tanto8dori (lit: *nife ta*ing) *ata# " tan.ord# cha%$ering it in front of the% and# using the end of the tsu*a# stri*es for.In fact %any of the na%es of the tradition2s iai *ata %a*e reference to different types of .u%p for.Antony Cundy Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo (c) In addition to this central iai portion of the syste% there are > techni)ues of Koguso*u# (grappling perfor%ed fro% standing)# 6 Wa*i&ashi techni)ues perfor%ed fro% sei&a# 6.ith their right hand in place on the handle. fro% this 0dead2 position then you .arriors of the past .ord *ata# > A%ote and Hra naginata +ersus naginata *ata and a series of @ re%ar*a$le solo naginata se)uences referred to as the 5asen A*u$i Kata# enco%passing techni)ues designed to unhorse opposing ca+alryThe first techni)ues of the Suio Ryu tradition that are taught fro% the founder2s original curriculu% are the o%ote and ura techni)ues called Tatsuna%i# fro% the series of nine *ata called the Kuyo.The uchidachi is seated at the opti%u% range for $oth sides# i-e.ord# still shea+ed# across their $ody# $ut no.ith their long s.Tatsuna%i refers to a tidal .The uchidachi duc*s $ac* out of the .ell as a set of 6 highly ad+anced .a distance that %eans that one side is unreacha$le for any stri*e that is %ade fro% one party only# $ut that is the opti%u% range .ord to lea+e hi%self raised on $oth *nees .eeping their right ar% across their $ody to gra$ for the offending handle.o *ata# > A%ote and Hra naginata +ersus s. .ell represented in the %o+e%ents of the *ata.ould sit opposite each other in sei&a .s their $lade at a rising angle fro% $eneath the opponents ar%# seriously da%aging their stri*ing li%$" de .ith their s.s their o. fro% any other postureIn perfor%ance the shidachi senses the opponent2s aggressi+e intentions and gra$s their s.ho has $een .It is felt that there .=a+ing %issed their gra$ atte%pt# the uchidachi dra.o (short staff) *ata and 6! .There are also so%e for%s .o +ersus .o +ersus *en for%s and a further 6! A*u *ata# as .ard into an upright crouch and si%ultaneously dra.n $lade in a single8handed cut that ai%s to stri*e to the top of shidachi2s head.ords thrust through their $eltsPractice of techni)ues is %ade fro% sei&a precisely $ecause of its difficulty.ord placed $y their left side# $lade facing in and .ard# ai%ing to hit the opponent in the %iddle of the face.ith the s.hen $oth parties are %o+ing for.ardHnli*e so%e syste%s the Suio Ryu teaches that all techni)ues that are perfor%ed fro% sei&a# apart fro% the Tatsuna%i techni)ues# are purely for the de+elop%ent of the practitioner2s carriage and cutting a$ility.Seeing his first attac* has $een foiled the shidachi pulls $ac* his front foot and the s.a+es gi+ing clues to the %anner of their perfor%ance.n on the shore and this i%age is .The shidachi# .o techni)ues called 4uso :aeshi.ay and )uic*ly counter attac*s $y s.

the opponent into cutting range through the use of tric*ery and feigned . to $ait the opponent into %o+e%ent that they are +ulnera$leSuio Ryu practitioners are al.ays %ade strongly a.Antony Cundy Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo (c) =a+ing finished the encounter the shidachi raises the s.ord# is then e<ecuted and the for.ith his right hand.are of the difference $et.ith the $utt to uchidachi2s face.s the% into a position .Si%ilarly# the degree of lighting and a+aila$le space for %o+e%ent is also considered and the affect of these en+iron%ental factors practiced and e<peri%ented .are of the need to dra.Thus .The chi$uri and the noto actions are the sa%e as in the o%ote +ersion e<cept that they are perfor%ed using the opposite handsThis techni)ue de+elops strong physical coordination and de<terity .The lesser the trust the %ore li*ely the s.The s.hile also training the practitioner in ho.ith his left hand across his $ody# .een the t.eight is dri+en through the target and so e+en if the foot .ere to slide this . .ere it could $e %ore easily $rought into use3s in the o%ote +ersion the shidachi reads his opponents intentions and pic*s up his s.ooden floor$oards and the reality of %ore natural ground. to $oth o$ser+e and respond to his opponent2s %o+e%ents and counters.Hnli*e in the pre+iously descri$ed +ersion the shidachi does not .ould depend on the circu%stances of the %eeting and the le+el of trust $et.ard right leg is retired.The noto# or sheathing of the s.The difference $eing in this case that the s.ould $e placed on the practitioners left side .s the s.ould only $e after i%pact had $een achie+ed.een practicing on le+el .ord o+erhead in a single8handed .They also learn distancing through paired practice of all iai techni)ues fro% the central curriculu%.ea*ness.hich is )uic*ly retracted $y the shidachi.ith their $lade then the opponent %ust $e a$le to reach the%Throughout the practice of techni)ues in the Suio Ryu# practitioners are %ade a.=e then cha%$ers and stri*es .o principals.odan *a%ae# .It also teaches the practitioner ho.ith the $lade edge facing up# and thrusts the $lade into his opponent2s solar ple<us.The practitioner then reassu%es sei&a finishing the for%The Hra +ersion of Tatsuna%i sees the pair assu%e the sa%e relati+e positions as in the o%ote +ersion.ered into gedan and chi$uri (lit: $lood sha*e) is perfor%ed.ait for his opponent2s ne<t attac* $ut dra.Hchidachi again duc*s $ac* and atte%pts to gra$ the handle# .ord is then lo.=o.ith the planting of the for.ord is placed on the right side of their $odies.hen a cut is %ade the practitioner is e<pected to coincide their i%pact on the +isuali&ed opponent .ard foot# ensuring $ody .e+er# practitioners are also constantly re%inded of the si%ple truth that if they are a$le to reach their opponent .ord .This action clears the practitioner2s $ody fro% the critical distance that the opponent %ay $e a$le to utili&e if still capa$le of any *ind of action.ord .ith for each techni)ue- 6 de .ord on one side of the $ody o+er the other .ord# although this ti%e .It has $een suggested that the difference in placing the s.hile returning the loose sca$$ard to a position against the hip.

correctness of form and strength. This is not the way to achieve improvement.n in the early part of the 67th century3s %any traditions of iai in the present day frag%ent into opposing factions and in %any cases lose their original %artial intent the Suio Ryu stands as a star* e<a%ple of the harsh reality and effecti+eness of iai. their cutting lines to be unclean.o . cutting line.It is certainly a testa%ent to the generations of Suio Ryu %asters that so %any young people can find %eaning and inspiration in the teachings of a tradition . it must take the form of endless practice of the basic techni#ues.3 +isit to the =e*iun*an do. their application of kiai will be mistimed and their iai form will not develop.ords of interest and resonance for any practitioner of iai arts0The essence of iai lies in the moment when the blade leaves the scabbard. these are the objectives of iai training. Speed.ere first laid do.utsu.o%en practicing its +aried arts.hose patterns . y firstly calmly and slowly drawing the blade and observing the form dictated by the tradition. Having said this. "any iai practitioners of today go no further than the most basic practice form of slowly drawing the sword. for the initiate to begin with speed will cause their body’s form to be incorrect.It is this practical efficacy and the insistence on %aintaining co%$ati+e reality through harsh paired practice and e<peri%entation that %ar*s the Suio Ryu as a truly li+ing %artial traditionSpecial than*s are offered to Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo 6"th So*e Katsuse 5oshi%itsu Kagehiro 7 de .2 Conclusion The +i$rancy and energy of the Suio Ryu under Katsuse So*e can $e %atched $y fe. If we err in the mechanism of the draw we will not be able to influence the moment in which life or death is decided. Iai that has not been fully e$plored and studied can only ever be a dance performed with a sword. In this manner you will prepare the tradition’s structure. !t length you will also understand when to move with speed and when to move more slowly and through this understanding reach a state of universal movement. your own and other’s kiai will become clearer and speed will be added to your draw. *oryu traditions. polish your grip. To reach the highest level of understanding takes more than one day. body posture and kiai.ill see a re%ar*a$le nu%$er of young %en and .Antony Cundy Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo (c) Philosophy The essence of training in the iai of the Suio Ryu has $een stated $y the 6?th So*e as follo.sThey are . . elieving this is truly a great misconception.

i# /u. . Ta*ahara 4a%oru# =a**en no Ishun ni Ka*eru# :e**an =iden# Winter 6>>@ 5oshi%ine Kou. de .utsu no =onshitsu# :e**an =iden# Ee$ruary !! .o Ki.a%eru 9ai @ /u: Katsuse 5oshi%itsu# :e**an =iden# (o+e%$er !!6 (ihon Ko$udo Kyo*ai# (ihon Ko$udo Soran# Shi%a&u Sho$o# 6>.Antony Cundy Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo (c) and senior e<ponents of the tradition for their patient and generous support and cooperation in the de+elop%ent of this article and $eyond- Bibliography Japanese 1anguage: I*eda Kiyo# Katsuse 5oshi%itsu# :e**an Kendo (ippon# Acto$er 6>>" Katsuse 4itsuyasu# Iai Shugyo no :an%o*u# authors collection Katsuse 5oshi%itsu# /u ha =ito (ari# 9ai =achi*ai Ko*usai /udo /un*a Se%inar# 6>>6 Katsuse 5oshi%itsu# 4i%a 5oichi&ae%on# (ihon Kengo 9o*uhon#$utsu Auraisha# 6>>? Ki*uchi =ideyu*i# Ia Ko$udo# Kodansha# 6>>6 4asui Koichi# Ken .in$utsu Auraisha# 6>>@ Katsuse 5oshi%itsu# Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo# (ihon 9ensho /ugei Ryuha 9o*uhon# Shin..