Gyokko Ryu – Kobujutsu or Ninjutsu?


The Gyokko Ryu can be translated as the “Jewelled Tiger School” or “Sphered Tiger School” which represents the style’s use of space and physical relativity between objects.

It is known in the oral tradition of the Gyokko Ryu that during the Tang Dynasty (618 AD – 907 AD) the foundational techniques of the Gyokko Ryu left the chaos of warring China and arrived in Japan. The system traces its lineage back to the Chinese exiled general Ikai and earlier through its founder Cho Gyokko, a Princess from the Chinese Imperial Court.

These original techniques were made up of powerful blocks using the core strength of the body and quick strikes to nerves and specific targets which was the original foundation of the Kosshijutsu. These strikes were often performed with the thumbs and fingers which was the foundation of the Shitojutsu component of the school.

It is said that some of the oldest martial techniques come originally from India, Tibet and China and were known as “Tiger Striking” schools.

The Gyokko Ryu: –

  1. Ki Gata
  2. Torrite Kihon Gata
  3. Jo Ryaku no Maki
  4. Chu Ryaku no Maki
  5. Ge Ryaku no Maki

The secret principles of the tradition include: –

“Shin Shingan” – God’s heart, God’s mind

“Tenmon” – Heavenly strategy

“Chimon” – Earthly strategy

“Kurai Dori” – Sizing up the situation

“Hissho ho” – The principle of “Always wins” from the Kyohen no Jutsu

and “Bushigokoro wo motte totoshi no nasu” – The warrior’s heart is precious and essential

It can be argued that the Gyokko Ryu is a school of Ninjutsu as it was used in Iga Province  by Shinobi families. The Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu is also known as Gyokko Ryu Ninpo and is believed to have originated from Hakuun Ryu Ninpo, as its lineage passed from Ikai teaching Garnon Doshi who passed it to his apprentice Garyu Doshi who in succesion taught Tozowa Hakuunsai.

The Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu passed to Takamatsu Toshitsugu via the Toda line from Grandmaster Momochi Sandayu – the most famous Iga Shinobi.

The Gyokko Ryu is known as a historically viable tradition in Japan as it is recorded in the Bugei Ryūha Daijiten (武芸流派大事典) a Japanese historical encyclopedia on ancient martial traditions.

It seems apparent that if the Takamatsu-den traditions are historically accurate then the Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu is in fact a surviving Ninjutsu tradition at the very least it was a system of Bujutsu used by Shinobi.


The 5 Ethics of the Martial Arts

The traditional 5 ethics of the martial arts / Bujutsu is known as the “Dojo Kun” and in many western dojos it is known as the students creed.

The 5 Ethics are the cornerstone of martial training and can be used as a template from which to begin your training.

The 5 Ethics are:

To strive for the perfection of character,
To follow the path of truth,
To foster a spirit of effort,
To honour the principles of etiquette,
and to guard against impetuous courage.

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Rokkon Shojo Haraikotoba

The eyes see many kinds of dirt, but the mind/heart does not see any.
The ears hear many kinds of dirt, but the mind/heart does not hear any.
The nose smells many kinds of dirt, but the mind/heart does not smell any.
The mouth talks many kinds of dirt, but the mind/heart does not talk any.
The body touches many kinds of dirt, but the mind/heart does not touch any.
The mind thinks many kinds of dirt, but the mind/heart does not think any.

The Mantra of the 6 Roots of Shugendo Purification


Ninjutsu is not something that should be used for personal desires.

It is something that should be used when no other choice is available,
for the sake of ones country,
for the sake of one’s lord,
or to escape personal danger.

If one deliberately uses it for the sake of personal desires,
the techniques will indeed fail totally.

Momochi Sandayu – Soke Iga Ryu Karate, Koto Ryu Koppojutsu