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FounderAkiyama Shirōbei Yoshitoki
Date foundedmid 17th century
Period foundedEarly Edo period
Current information
Current headmasterKoyama Noriko [1]
Arts taught
JujutsuComprehensive art
Ancestor schools
Sekiguchi-ryu, Chinese boxing
Descendant schools

Yōshin-ryū (楊心流) ("The School of the Willow Heart")[2] is a common name for one of several different martial traditions founded in Japan during the Edo period. The most popular and well-known was the Yōshin-ryū founded by physician Akiyama Shirōbei Yoshitoki at Nagasaki in 1642.[2] The Akiyama line of Yōshin-ryū is perhaps the most influential school of jūjutsu to have existed in Japan. By the late Edo Period, Akiyama Yōshin-ryū and its descendants had spread all over Japan. By the Meiji era, Yōshin-ryū had even spread overseas to Europe and North America.

Together with the Takenouchi-ryū (竹内流), and the Ryōi Shintō-ryū, the Yōshin-ryū (楊心流), was one of the three largest, most important and influential Jūjutsu schools of the Edo period (江戸時代 Edo jidai 1603 - 1868) before the rise of Judo.[3]

Curriculum and brief history[edit]

Akiyama Yōshin-ryū is noted for a very broad curriculum, which originally included jujutsu (grappling methods), bukijutsu (weapons methods), hyoho (battlefield strategy), to the development of internal energy, or nairiki. It is believed several of these teachings were eventually absorbed by other jujutsu traditions, notably among them methods of kyushojutsu (the manipulation of pressure points).

Prior to his death in 1680, Akiyama Shirōbei Yoshitoki (秋山四郎兵芳年) passed the tradition to Ōe Senbei Hirotomi (大江千兵衛), the man largely responsible for codifying the 303 kata that comprise the jujutsu curriculum. Ōe (died 1696) trained and qualified scores of students who subsequently spread the art throughout Japan.

Historically, there were three predominant mainline branch houses (honke, or seito) commencing with the third generation: the Miura line under Miura Sadaemon (三浦定右衛門), the Iwanaga line under Iwanaga Senno Yoshishige (岩永千之義重), and the Hano line under Hano Shinkurō (羽野真九郎).

A sub-branch of the Miura line has survived with an unbroken transmission of headmasters to the current day: the Yōshin-ryū bukijutsu/naginata school in Hiroshima, headed by Koyama Noriko (小山宜子). Koyama traces her lineage to Akiyama through Hotta Magoemon (堀田孫右衛門). Hotta separated the bukijutsu and jujutsu transmissions, awarding the former to Hoshino Kakūemon (星野角右衛門), and the latter to Kumabe Sessui (隈部節水). The jujutsu transmission of the Miura lineage became extinct with the death of the 13th generation inheritor, Era Sajuro (恵良佐十郎) in 1957.

The Iwanaga mainline was eventually passed to Shiota Jindayū (塩田甚太夫), who in 1780 combined its teachings with the Suzuki-ryu (鈴木流) Nanba Ippo-ryû (難波一甫流) to create the Kurama Yōshin-ryū (鞍馬楊心流), which continues to be actively practised in Kagoshima city on the island of Kyushu.

The Hano mainline transmission survived into the early 20th century through Santō Shinjūrō Kiyotake (山東新十郎清武). Santō was perhaps better known as a former Headmaster of Miyamato Musashi's (宮本武蔵) famed Niten Ichi-ryu Hyoho (二天一流兵補) school of swordsmanship and strategy, and while Santō is known to have awarded complete transmission of Yōshin-ryū to at least five students during his lifetime, he did not name an inheritor to the tradition prior his death in 1909. Contemporary Yōshin-ryū jujutsu dojo that trace their legacies through Santō's students can be found in Osaka and Nagasaki, while a dojo in Nara traces its descent through Ishii Riko Osamu (石井理子治). Ishii (died 1897) was the inheritor of the minor branch house (or bunke) established by Akasumi Tokuzenji Ikine (赤住徳禪寺伯嶺) in 1753.

In common with other koryū, the curriculum is contained in a series of mokuroku (目録) or 'catalog' scrolls, presented once the practitioner achieves an appropriate level of technical and moral proficiency. Several of the makimono scrolls are common to all lineages, while others are unique to specific lines of transmission. The first scroll to be awarded is generally the kirigami menjo (切り紙免除), while the last is the menkyo kaiden-no-maki (免許皆伝之巻). A defining characteristic of Yōshin-ryū makimono is the finely detailed artwork they incorporate, marking them as excellent examples of the Japanese emakimono (絵巻物) or "picture scroll" tradition.


Schools with varying degrees of descent from Akiyama Yōshin-ryū jūjutsu include:

Danzan ryu, Shin Yōshin-ryū, Shinshin-ryū, Sakkatsu Yōshin-ryū, Shin-no-Shindō ryū, Tenjin Shin'yō-ryū, Shindō Yōshin-ryū, Wadō-ryū karatedo, Ryushin Katchu-ryū, Ito-ha Shin'yō-ryū, Kurama Yōshin-ryū, Kodokan Judo, and Fudoshin-ryu.[4]

Hontai Yōshin ryū – Takagi ryū Lineage[edit]

The schools of Hontai Yōshin-ryū – Takagi-ryū are not a part of the Akiyama Yōshin-ryū lineage, but are instead descended from Takenouchi-ryū.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bugei Ryuha Daijiten,(1970)
  2. ^ a b YoshinRyu
  3. ^ Classical Fighting Arts of Japan: A Complete Guide to Koryu Jujutsu. by Serge Mol (2001)
  4. ^ Amdur, Ellis (9 August 2018). Hidden in Plain Sight: Esoteric Power Training within Japanese Martial ... - Ellis Amdur - Google Books. ISBN 9781937439378.
  5. ^ Takagi Yoshin Archived May 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine