Maniwa Nen-ryū

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Maniwa Nen-ryū
Founder Higuchi Matashichirō
Date founded 1591
Period founded Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568–1603)
Current information
Current headmaster Higuchi Sadahito
Arts taught
Art Description
Kenjutsu - ōdachi Sword art - long sword
Naginatajutsu Glaive art
Sōjutsu Spear art
Yadomejutsu Arrow deflection art
Ancestor schools
Descendant schools
Honma Nen Ryu

Maniwa Nen-ryū (馬庭念流) is a traditional school (koryū) of Japanese martial arts founded in 1591 by Higuchi Matashichirō (c. 16th century). Matashichirō was a student of Nen-ryū, and founded Maniwa Nen-ryū after receiving inka (stamp or seal) from Akamatsu Gion. It is currently headed by the 25th headmaster, Higuchi Sadahito.[citation needed]

Maniwa Nen-ryū is significant in that it is one of the oldest surviving Japanese battlefield traditions today and is unusual in that throughout its history it has been promoted and preserved by the members of a particular village. Maniwa Nen-ryū is also one of the very few schools that teach yadomejutsu; techniques for deflecting incoming arrows with a sword.

Said to have been brought to Maniwa by Higuchi Kaneshige in 1494, during its history this sword style earned a reputation for creating strong exponents as many engaged in bouts against members of other noted sword schools.

The style is characterized by its use of fukuro shinai, or mock bamboo swords, quilted gloves and headgear to engage in what it calls kiriwara jiai, which are competitions in which exponents can test their skills without suffering serious injury. It is not historically verified when this tradition became an intrinsic part of this school's training but along with the Shinkage and Yagyū Shinkage schools it was of the first schools of Japanese bujutsu to have employed the use of the bamboo training weapon. This training device was further developed by Nakanishi Chuto of the Nakanishi-ha Ittō-ryū and later became an important element in the establishing of the modern sport of kendo.

In execution, the techniques of this school sometimes appear to be awkward and lacking the stylistic polish which characterize other schools of classical Japanese sword. However the Maniwa Nen-ryū system is said to be deceptively subtle in its technique and has proved its effectiveness in both battlefield and duels throughout its long history.

References and Further Reading[edit]

Draeger, Donn. 1973. Classical Budo. The Martial Arts and Ways of Japan, 2. New York & Tokyo: Weatherhill.

Skoss, Diane (Editor). 1997. Koryu Bujutsu. Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan, Volume 1. New Jersey, Koryu Books.

Skoss, Diane (Editor). 2002. Keiko Shokon. Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan, Volume 3. Koryu Books. ISBN 1-890536-06-7