Tsugaru Toda-ryu

This Discussion is based on a report by Liam Keeley from a visit in 1998by himself and Nitta Suzuyo sensei

Tsugaru Toda-ryu is a kenjutsu ryu located in Hirosaki, the former castle town of the Tsugaru clan in what is current southwest Aomori Prefecture

In 1998, the ryu was headed Mssrs. Takeuchi, father and son, and a senior student, a Mr. Nakajima, who was also an instructor of kendo.  Tsugaru Toda-ryu also claims Toda Seigen as it’s founder, but its lineage diverges from Toda-ha Buko-ryu from the 2nd generation, following with Toda Echigo no Kami.

Their current syllabus primarily focuses on the kodachi, which opposes the odachi in all kata with the exception of the Omote, which features tachi vs. odachi.    The tachi is of average size, approximately 2 shaku, 3 sun.  The kodachi is approximately 1 shaku, 7-8 sun (which is congruent with many accounts of Toda Seigen’s weapons), and and the odachi is close to 3 shaku in length.  In some techniques, the kodachi is used with both hands.  The wooden weapons they use are straight, and were “apparently cut down from hoe shafts.”

  • Omote  – five
  • Ura – five
  • Chugoku – ten
  • Tosabaki – seven
  • Chirashi – eight

The main targets of attack are the throat, side of the neck, armpits, wrist and side of the calf, obviously attacking an armored opponent (katchu kempo). Takeuchi sensei (senior) explained that the side of the calf was not covered by the greave and that because the hands and lower forearm were lightly armored, one could cut through with a powerful cut.  Per Liam Keeley’s memories, Tsugaru Toda-ryu believes the calf is a more accessible target than the thigh, so that they don’t target the latter.

This ryu has apparently become more public in recent years – THIS film from 2011, per Mr. Keeley’s recollection, is the same school. Here is a presentation from 2017.

Their makimono feature sketches of practitioners wearing only loincloth to clearly show the physical organization and also include  “a lovely painting of Marishiten riding a white wild boar.”

Tusgaru Toda-ryu Kenjutsu Mokuroku