As I have stated before, the Togakure Ryu is real!!!

I am thrilled to share my latest addition to my Japanese martial arts densho collection, and the excitement is well-founded. In my first book, “The Hidden Lineage,” I delved into the plausible theory suggesting that the Bujinkan’s Toda-family ninjutsu lineage, as presented by Takamatsu Sensei, is a fabrication, a false lineage. This, however, shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the shinobi of any authentic ninjutsu lineage would go to great lengths to conceal their identity, a tradition they upheld. This alternative lineage does not take away from the school’s authenticity at all, rather I find it to add to it and makes for an interesting adventure through Japanese history.

I believe Takamatsu Sensei honored this tradition when he penned the transmission of authority scrolls for Hatsumi Sensei. Interestingly, the Toda lineage he presented, though entirely fabricated and absent in documented Japanese history, offers valuable clues pointing to the authentic Toda family. In my research, I uncovered the true identity of Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu, Takamatsu Sensei’s maternal grandfather (or possibly great-uncle), as Toda Hisajiro. He was not only the top falconer to the Tokugawa Shogunate but also a master sword instructor at the Shogunate military academy and the commander of Tori-Mi (鳥見) secret agents, who collaborated closely with the Shogun’s secret police, known as the Onmitsu (隠密).

My most recent acquisition reveals Toda Hisajiro’s 7X’s great-grandfather, Toda Yoshihisa, as the headmaster of a Martial Arts Ryu known as Kanze-Ryū. (shown highlighted in green) He revived this Ryu from the teachings of the military strategist Sakanoue Tamuramarō at the end of the Warring States Period around the year 1600. (highlighted in blue) This is particularly intriguing because the Sakanoue family were ancestral headmasters of the Gyokko Ryū. Before the invasion of Iga by Oda Nobunaga, Gyokko Ryū, Togakure Ryū, and Koto Ryū all had headmasters from the Sakanoue clan. Highlighted in pink is the founder Fujiwara no Kamatari who is also an ancestral founder for what became the Kukishin Ryu in ancient times.

The lineage of Toda Hisajiro, spanning generations, is a testament to their service to the shogun as personal guards and falconers. Falconry, often a cover used by the shinobi or ninja, was deeply ingrained in their traditions. From Toda Katsunori to Toda Hisajiro, each ancestor played a vital role in this lineage.

Below is the historical lineage of Toda Hisajiro.

Toda Katsunori

Toda Yoshihisa

Toda Sadayoshi

Toda Yoshinari

Toda Masayoshi

Toda Katsufusa

Toda Katsuyori

Toda Katsuchika

Toda Katsuteru

Toda Hisajiro

What captivates me the most is the striking resemblance between the old manuscript drawings and our Bujinkan schools. Senban-shuriken called Kodama (小玉), folding shuriken called Shaken (車剣), kunai called Daken (打剣), hand claws for catching swords called Shiraha Itto (白刃一取), and even finger blades for a tiger-like fighting style—these parallels are astonishing. The influence of the Gyokko Ryū on the martial arts passed on by the Sakanoue and later the Toda clan is evident even eight generations back from Hisajiro to Yoshihisa.

Lastly, it’s crucial to note the various connections of this Toda lineage, particularly Toda Hisajiro, to the Kuki family through marriages and adoptions spanning several centuries. They are almost one clan, serving at castles with ties to both the Kuki clan and the Tokugawa Shogunate.

As time progresses, I continue to uncover more clues and hints, gradually revealing more of the Hidden Lineage. The search continues…

Sean Askew

Dōtō 導冬 – Winter’s Guide

BKRBUDO 1/9/2024

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