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Thirty Three

The Art of Peace does not rely on weapons or brute force to succeed; instead we put ourselves in tune with the universe, maintain peace in our own realms, nurture life, and prevent death and destruction. The true meaning of the term samurai is one who serves and adheres to the power of love.

"The Art of Peace" by Morihei Ueshiba



In 17th century Japan, the role of the military, and the Samurai was at its peak. It was customary a maturing warrior to embark upon a journey to further hone his fighting skills, (not to mention his reputation and employment possibilities). A Shinto Priest, Muso Gonosuke Katsuyoshi trained in Tenshin Katori Shindo Ryu Ken Jitsu, rising to become the 7th Grand Master of that style. He also became highly proficient in Kashima Shingyu Ken Jitsu as well as bojitsu. His training journey took him to Edo, (Tokyo), where after defeating some of the finest warriors, he encountered Miyamoto Musashi, Japans most legendary swordsman. The undefeated Musashi used the Niten Ichi Ryu sword style, two swords crossed to trap an opponent's weapon, and defeated Gonosuke. Recognizing that Gonosuke's skill was greater than any of his other opponents Musashi allowed Gonosuke to live. Gonosuke retreated to the southern island of Kyushu to sharpen his skills, and to meditate. He ultimately reached Homaizan, (Mount Homan), which was not only a favored spot for meditation for both Buddist and Shinto acolytes, but also a popular spot for Yamma-Bushi, (Mountain Warriors), to train.

The legend is that while Gonosuke was in a state of deep meditation, a Mountain Spirit in the form of a boy appeared to him, and revealed a vision of a shorter version of the bo, (approximately 6 foot long staff). This shorter staff, ~50 inches long, and 13/16 inch in diameter, Gonosuke called the Jyo. The spirit imparted the secret techniques by which any swordsman could be defeated; techniques which combined the cutting stroke of the sword, the sweep of the naganata, the thrusting of the yari, as well as the defensive blocking motion unique to the Jyo itself. Gonosuke called the art Shindo Muso Ryu which translates roughly as "Heavenly Dream Style". He challenged Musashi once more, and with the Jyo, served Musashi his only defeat.

Shindo Muso Ryu grew to 64 mostly secret and complicated techniques, until the last Headmaster, Shimizu Takaji refined a subset of the most essential and effective ones. This subset is referred to as the "Seitei Kata", 12 basic katas, based upon 12 strikes, blocks or thrusts. These were brought to the United States largely through the efforts of the great teacher Ms. Tsunaku Miyake in the 1970s, through 1990s. The 12 techniques, and the 12 katas comprise the Jyodo being taught in the Clear Creek Aikido dojo.