Kobayashi Seiō (小林清雄)

Kobayashi Seiko (Seiō the name she used after receiving menkyo kaiden) was born in Meiji 33 (1900).  Her father, Chiba Chōsaku,  was a leading student of Chiba Shusaku (no familial relation), the famous teacher of Hokushin Itto-ryu.

Kobayashi Seiko on right. Seated, Chiba Chōsaku

Murakami Hideō was a friend of Chōsaku, and Seiko was, by her own account, “dragged to the dojo” from the age of 10 or 11.   From the  beginning of the Showa era (1925), her father opened the Koishikawa Dojo, and Murakami Hideō commuted there to teach.  According to Nitta Suzuyo’s records, in Showa 4, Murakami awarded Kobayashi and two other individuals, otherwise unknown, menkyo kaiden. Murakami and Kobayashi traveled widely, presenting embu. Kobayashi frequently participated in shiai against both kendo and naginata practitioners, and as far as is known, was never defeated.  As a young woman, she resembled Kujyo Takeko, considered the epitome of beauty, and all the young budo men idolized her.  (I heard a number of old budo men during Kobudo Shinkokai parties in the 1980’s reminisce about Kobayashi, saying, “Kobayashi sensei <sigh>  yappari bijin datta ne . . .” )

Kobayashi sensei’s husband was the head of the Waseda University kendo club.  He was expert at both judo and kendo, and was fascinated with naginata.  Kobayashi sensei stated that she practiced deeper and understood more after her marriage.  He later worked in the diplomatic corp, and both became friends with Golda Meir, later to be prime minister of Israel.  She had four children.

Kobayashi Seiko & Husband

She founded the Nihon Joshi Naginata Gakuin (Japan Women’s Naginata Institute) in her father’s dojo.  According to Kobayashi sensei’s account, she eventually taught tens of thousands of students, both at this dojo and also  through circulating around a multitude of public schools.

After the 2nd World War, she set up a temporary dojo in Ikebukuro, a section of Tokyo, and in 1961, she taught on the grounds of a temple area in the Koenji area.  In 1965, she held practice in a Koenji area gymnasium, but her husband became ill, and then she suffered a stroke.  In Showa 47 (1969), Nitta Suzuyo and Kobayashi sensei’s other leading students began practicing at the dojo of the Nakano Ward gymnasium.  Kobayashi sensei died in 1984. The Nakano Dojo continues practice there to this day, currently under the direction of shihan and current soke-dairi, Kent Sorensen.

Here is an article written about Kobayashi sensei which gives a little more about her history.  Also notable is the photograph of Kobayashi sensei in the uketachi role in ai-naginta Fuyō, which gives a sense of dynamic power, even in her advanced years : 宿命のおばさン剣豪