Cho Busho (張武相) or Cho Busho (張武勝)… Does the Kukishin Ryu and Gyokko Ryu share the same origin?

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During this time of social distancing and self-quarantining I have had a lot of time to spend on researching different materials for my next book. While sharing my finds with my good friend and Hidden Lineage co-researcher, Mr. Javier Morla, he shared back with me a VERY big find.

His attention to detail has brought us, in my opinion, one of the best finds in Bujinkan history.

I don’t want to share all of it here as I plan to include it my upcoming book “Hidden Lineage – The Imperial Tigers and their Secret Fighting Art”, and do not want to spoil the fun and surprise.

But I do want to share a part of this special gem.

This find comes from a scroll in the Kuki family’s possession written by Minamoto no Masakuni (源正国) in March of 1678 CE. The copy we are looking at is a handwritten copy made by Takamatsu Sensei when he was in his youth and studying martial arts at the Kuki estate. The Kuki family archives show that this scroll is still in their possession.

In the scroll we see the following passage:


The direct descendants of the Kuki family became warriors, they studied striking methods for attacking the weak points of the human body from a Chinese man named Zhāng Wǔxiāng 張武相 (Cho Bushō in Japanese), he devised it and called it Hōjutsu. Jujutsu and such also have added these secrets (to their art).

So, there it is, in one line we see that the taijutsu of the Kukishin Ryu is based on the teachings that Zhāng Wǔxiāng/Cho Bushō taught to the members of the Kuki family.

In Gyokko Ryu tradition it is also said that their art is based on the striking methods of a one Zhāng Wǔshèng 張武勝 (Cho Bushō in Japanese), also from China.

Keep in mind that Hatsumi Sensei has often said that the reason we often do not find the history of the Momochi-Den (Gyokko, Koto and Togakure Ryu) in the historical record is because Takamatsu Sensei changed the names of the arts and many of their historical characters that brought this art into the modern world. This was done to protect the identity of those involved. This was ninjutsu and nothing should ever be made clear.

So, I ask, could Zhāng Wǔxiāng 張武相 (Cho Bushō) and Zhāng Wǔshèng 張武勝 (Cho Bushō) be one and the same individual? Its only one character different and it is pronounced the same. Zhāng Wǔxiāng 張武相 can also be found in many Chinese and Japanese books on history, I found him in the “Summary of Ancient Japanese Writings” (日本古文書学提要).

I say yes, I believe he is the same person and I’ll explain why in the book.

The connection between the Kukishin Ryu and the Gyokko Ryu goes all the way back to the famous Tora no Maki of Minamoto Yoshitsune, a secret scroll surrounded in legends and mystery.

Keep an eye out for my next book coming soon and catch up on all the secrets on the relationship of these two schools and their roles in the Kumano Navy.

Stay healthy and safe in these stressful times.

Take time to care for your body. Rest, stretch and meditate while you can because eventually, we will be going back to our busy life routines.

Ninpo Ichizoku!

Sean Askew

Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo


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