Hozoin-ryu Takada-ha Sojutsu is a school of spearmanship with a history of more than 460 years.
It was founded by the monk Kakuzenbo Inei for Hozoin, a branch temple of Kofukuji. The teachings of Hozoin-ryu were passed down to renowned spear master Takada Matabei Yoshitsugu, and continue to this day under Junzo Ichiya, the 21st head of the school.
Hozoin-ryu is characterized by the use of the kamayari, a “forked spear” featuring a cross-shaped head, which was devised by Inei.
Says Headmaster Ichiya, “In training, an ordinary straight spear called a suyari is also used, and this use of two types of spear is what makes Hozoin-ryu sōjutsu (spear-fighting art) unique. Practice is done in pairs, with one person holding a suyari and the other a kamayari. There are various offensive and defensive techniques, including thrusts, takedowns, shearing attacks, pushing attacks and disarming tactics.”
The kamayari was so versatile it was praised in poetry: “Thrust: It is a spear. Sweep: It is a pole sword. Pull: It is a sickle. Whatever the case, it never fails to hit the target.” Due to the weapon’s ease and freedom of use, Hozoin-ryu was adopted by most feudal clans in the Edo Period (1603-1868), and became the most widely adopted martial-arts school across Japan.
Inei studied Yagyu Shinkage-ryu with Yagyu Sekishusai under the tutelage of Kamiizumi Ise no Kami, and it is possible to find commonality between his teachings and those of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. Both the etsugen (smiling eyes) teaching of Hozoin-ryu and the katsunin-ken (life-giving sword) concept of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu aim to force the opponent to move first so that he can then be overcome.
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