Takeuchi Santo-ryu

By Ellis Amdur & Lance Gatling

NOTE: This essay was originally published on my Araki-ryu site

The Ancestors of Takeuchi Santo-ryu

This extinct jujutsu ryu was founded by the Yano family, which, for generations, operated a famous jujutsu dojo in the Higo domain (currently, the area around the city of Kumamoto on the western Japanese island of Kyushu). Its name denotes its origins: santo 三統 means ‘three traditions’, in this case, two lines of the Takenouchi (Takeuchi) ryu active around Higo, and a third tradition either Araki-ryu or a line of Takenouchi-ryu strongly influenced by the former. The two lines of Takenouchi-ryu are classified by Takeuchi Santo-ryu as the Sakushuu tradition, which is the home district of the Takenouchi family, and the Kobayashi tradition which traces back to an early shihan of Takenouchi-ryu. In a document  among the personal effects of Shimada Hideki, last known instructor of Takeuchi Santo-ryu, various sections of the Takeuchi Santo-ryu mokuroku are designated as descending from either/both the Sakushuu or Kobayashi kei (lines), others from the Araki kei, and some as ‘unique to Takeuchi Santo-ryu.’

Takeuchi Santo-ryu records its lineage as showing the three ‘precursor’ lines in parallel that descend to combine into Takeuchi Santo-ryu under the Yano family, one of those lines being ‘headed’ by Araki Mujinsai.  Mujinsai is placed in the lineage ‘branching off’ from Takenouchi Kaganosuke, the third generation headmaster of Takenouchi ryu. Given that Mujinsai was probably born around 1560, and Kaganosuke a generation later, it is doubtful that there is any connection between the two men. Araki-ryu’s genuine relationship to Takenouchi-ryu almost surely dates back to the founder, Takenouchi Hisamori.

The best theory to explain Mujinsai’s presence in the lineage may be a link to Nakamura Taizo Yukiharu, cited as a student of Mujinsai and listed as a fifth generation ‘precusor influence’ on Takeuchi Santo-ryu. Nakamura probably was a student of Araki-ryu, but not directly from Mujinsai. The dates simply do not match, and there are no independent records of any connection between the two men. He was also conceivably a student of Takenouchi-ryu or merely living at the time of fourth/fifth generation practitioners of the school.  Even though they were not directly connected, placing Araki Mujinsai in the lineage directly above Nakamura would be the easiest way to clearly claim that this strand of influence in Takeuchi Santo-ryu descended from Araki-ryu.

The Development of Takeuchi Santo-ryu

Yano Hirohide, who was born in 1798, studied Takenouchi-ryu as well as Shinshin Mutekatsu-ryu Iaijutsu under his father, Yano Sene’mon Chikahide  In 1841, he studied Takenouchi-ryu with Takenouchi Hisayori (9th soke) and Takenouchi Toichiro Hisai (10th soke).  Sometime in the Bakumatsu period (approximately 1853-1867), Hirohide’s son, Yano Hirotsugu consolidated and modified the extant lines of Takenouchi-ryu and Araki-ryu and named his consolidated system, Takeuchi Santo-ryu.  (Of course, Takenouchi-ryu, both mainline and other branches, continued independently in other areas of Japan.)

Hirotsugu also reportedly created a school called Yano-ryu (BRDJ – 869), which was eventually incorporated into Higo-ryu taijutsu, AKA Higo-ryu jujutsu, a syncretic system of jujutsu established during the Meiji Period.  He also became a judo hanshi in the Butokukai.

Takeuchi Santo-ryu’s kata reportedly bear considerable resemblance to Takenouchi-ryu.  Its curriculum includes jujutsu, iai and hōjōjutsu (arresting and restraining techniques with a cord).   It was a very powerful school, and its senior instructors had a role in the creation of judo’s kata as supervised by the Butokukai in 1905. The ryu was practiced into modern times, remaining influential in Kyushu, but like so many others, was finally overshadowed by Kodokan judo.  The great judoka Samaura Masaaki – tenth dan – was a practitioner, and wrote, in particular, about the power of the school’s back throws (ura nage).

In total, five generations of Yano family members are listed in the ryu’s lineage, and four served as soke. The last known licensed instructor, Shimada Hideki, passed away in 1975, and left no known successor.  He was a judo instructor at the Imperial Navy School at Etajima before WWII, and later taught Takeuchi Santo-ryu in Kumamoto at the request of the head of the city police, who had studied as a young man.

Takeuchi Santo-ryu was still very influential in the 20th century.  Many of the great judoka of Kyushu started in this ryu, among them Kimura Masahiko.

One member of the Yano family was Yano Takeo 矢野武雄. He was born in the early 1900’s,  in Kumamoto and is likely to have been a young son of the family. He moved to Brazil as a young man, and was a brilliant competitor in so-called jiujitsu and lira livre matches from the late 1920’s through the 1950’s.  He was a judo student of Isogai Hajime of the Butokukai. Yano fought both genuine matches and works (fixed matches). In particular, he had a very productive professional relationship with Jorge Gracie (the most prolific fighter of the Gracie brothers). He fought his last pro wrestling match in 1958. He was a pioneer in judo in Brazil, as well as teaching some famous Brazilian jiujitsu practitioners.  (Choque: The Untold Story of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil by Roberto Pedreira).

Present Day

One Bitchu-den Takeuchi-ryu dojo in Tokyo has been studying the private notebooks of Shimada Hideki, that describe Takenouchi Santo-ryu jujutsu kata, with the aim of reviving them for study with the blessings of his daughter. In addition, there is a group in Kumamoto that reportedly practices one portion of the Takeuchi Santo-ryu syllabus.

‘Precursor Lineage’ of Takeuchi Santo-ryu

  1. Takenouchi Nakatsukasadayu Hisamori (Takenouchi-ryu)
  2. Takenouchi Hitachinosuke Hisakatsu (Takenouchi-ryu)
  3. Takenouchi Kaganosuke Hisayoshi (Takenouchi-ryu)
  4. Araki Mujinsai Hidetsuna (Araki-ryu) (荒木夢仁斎源秀縄)
  5. Nakamura Taizo Yukiharu  (中村大蔵行春) (Trained in both or either – Araki-ryu & Takenouchi-ryu)
  6. Watanabe Susumu  Shigemasa (渡辺助之進重正)
  7. Kobori Toranosuke Genpo (小堀虎之助元方)
  8. Abe Rokurosaemon ______ (隈部六郎左衛門親論)
  9. Toda Tsukezaemon Katsunori (戸田助左衛門勝就) Toda Tsukezaemon is listed in the lineage of 新心無手勝流, a school associated with Sekiguchi-ryu, preceded in the lineage by a father and succeeded by a son.

Takeuchi Santo-ryu Lineage

  1. Yano Sene’mon Chikahide 1st soke, founder (矢野仙右衛門親英)
  2. Yano Hikozaemon Hirohide (矢野彦左衛門広秀)  (b. 1798, d. 1867) 2nd soke
  3. Yano Shiba  Hironori  (矢野司馬太広則)
  4. Yano Gonnosuke Hirotsugu (矢野権之助広次)  3rd soke (Chuko no so – actual ‘consolidator’ of Takeuchi Santo-ryu)
  5. Yano Tamonda (矢野多門太)
  6. Yano Katsutoshi (矢野勝利) –  4th and last soke
  7.  Shimada Hideki (島田秀誓) – Last shihan of the school

DOCUMENTS –  Takeuchi Santo-ryu

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