The History & Lineage of Daito Ryu

Daito Ryu Lineage Chart

Tradition has it that Daito Ryu originated in a preliminary form during the time of Emperor Seiwa (850-880 A.D.), and then was consequently handed down to succeeding generations of the Minamoto family. Thus a foundation of techniques were laid by the time they reached Shinra Saburo Minamoto Yoshimitsu, an exceptionally skilled man. He studied and devised many more techniques after watching a spider skillfully trap a large insect in its web. Furthermore, he studied the anatomy of war dead and criminals by dissecting their bodies. As result of his progressive study, he went a step further and uncovered many important principles, and applying that knowledge to create more effective and advanced techniques. Thus, he should be considered the creator and founder of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu. Later, Yoshimitsu's second son, Yoshikiyo moved to the town of Takeda located in Kai province (now known as Yamanashi Prefecture). Afterwards, Yoshikiyo's descendants took on the name of that town, Takeda. As a result, all the techniques accumulated up until then, were passed down to successive generations of the Takeda clan as a secret art only to known to members of the family and retainers. In 1574, Kunimitsu Takeda decided to move from Takeda to Aizu which is located in northeastern Japan. Henceforth, these secret arts were handed down to his descendants in Aizu. This art then was called the Aizu-Todome techniques. They were techniques that were prohibited to be shown in public and were only shown within the Takeda household.

Sokaku Takeda, the Restorer of Daito Ryu

After the Meiji Restoration in 1868 which opened Japan to the rest of the world and initiated a rapid phase of development in all spheres of society, Sokaku Takeda was the man who inherited Daito Ryu and began to spread the secret art in public. Sokaku learned the techniques of Daito Ryu from his father Sokichi and from Tanomo Saigo (former chief retainer of the Aizu clan). Sokaku had a natural inclination toward the fighting arts and mastered swordsman ship (kenjutsu), the art of fighting with a cudgel (bojutsu), spearman ship (Sojutsu), and stick fighting (Jojutsu) among others. He accumulated a lot of experience and traveled throughout Japan testing his abilities against all the great martial artists of his day. He disciplined and trained himself thoroughly. Especially based on the techniques of Daito Ryu and Ono ha Itto Ryu swordsman ship, he reached new heights in his ability, and it is these combined techniques that he began to spread all over the country. He taught several tens of thousands of people, such disciples of his were prominent figures of the time, government officials, military men, and other martial artists. Through his efforts of training and simultaneously teaching around the country, he gained quite a reputation as an unprecedented master of Daito Ryu. In view of his achievements, he is considered the "Restorer of Daito Ryu."


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