Chiba Shusaku Narimasa
Chiba Shūsaku Narimasa (千葉 周作, 1794, Kese Village (now part of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture), Japan – January 17, 1856) was the founder of the Hokushin Itto school of swordsmanship (Hokushin Itto Ryu Kenjutsu).
Shusaku was the son of the swordsman Koemon (Ko-uemon), who was originally from Myagi Pref. Born as the second son in Kesen-Mura (currently Rikuzentakata, Iwate Pref.), Shusaku was named Narimasa Taira. His father Koemon then studied under Kichinojo Chiba (founder of the Hokushin Muso school of swordsmanship (Hokushin Muso Ryu Kenjutsu)). There has been some confusion about Shusaku’s ancestry and birthplace because after Koemon had moved his family to Mito, which was in Chiba prefecture and demonstrated his swordsmanship skill, Koemon was adopted by Kichinojo Chiba and given the new name Chiba Koemon (about 1800). Shusaku originally studied his father’s martial art, the Hokushin Muso Ryu, first from his father and then directly from Kichinojo Chiba.
In 1809 Koemon moved his family again, this time to Matsudo, near Edo. This was where Shusaku studied the Itto school with Yoshinobu Matashichiro Asari and Tanemasa Chubei Nakanishi. Shusaku married Yoshinobu Matashichiro Asari’s daughter, changed his name to Shusaku Asari, and took charge of the Asari dojo. After a falling-out with his father-in-law, Shusaku hit the road and traveled extensively, visiting many dojos. He dropped the ‘Asari’ from his name.
Hokushin Itto Ryu
After studying several other forms, Shusaku created his own form, and he called his school Hokushin Itto Ryu Kenjutsu. The name is a combination from Hokushin Muso and the Itto schools. In 1818 Shusaku opened his own dojo, the Genbukan, in Shinagawa, Nihonbashi.
In some ways the Hokushin Itto Ryu Kenjutsu is a simplification of the Itto Ryu forms, but one that concentrates on the essentials. Certainly Shusaku’s teaching methods were easier to understand, if not to master. He reduced the eight levels of the Itto Ryu system to three levels: sho-mokuroku, chuu-mokuroku, and dai-mokuroku.
- “Famous Swordsmen of Japan: Shusaku Chiba by Takefumi Hiiragi” Aikido Journal #100 (1994) in English.
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