Meifu Shinkage Ryu History
Meifu Shinkage Ryu is a modern school of shurikenjutsu, (手裏剣術) throwing blade technique, with roots in one of the pre-eminent warrior traditions of feudal Japan. While there are other Japanese traditions that include shurikenjutsu in their curriculum, Meifu Shinkage Ryu is one of only two extant schools based around it.
Someya Chikatoshi (1924-1999) was the ryuso, (流祖) founder, of Meifu Shinkage ryu.
From a young age, Someya-sensei had a passion for samurai culture, and traditional Japanese martial arts. This passion lead to him enrolling in Tenshin-shoden Katori Shinto Ryu in 1940. He remained a life-long member of the ryu, mastering all aspects of it's curriculum; including shurikenjutsu.
Someya-sensei developed a special interest in shurikenjutsu, and other kakushi-buki, (隠し武器) hidden/concealed weapons. He researched the weapons, and techniques, of many traditions. In the case of shuriken, Someya-sensei carefully studied the flight characteristics of the different blade; noting the subtle differences based upon length, shape, and weight.
After many years of study, Someya-sensei developed a throwing method adaptable to any type of shuriken. He founded a new school based on his discoveries, and chose to name it Meifu Shinkage Ryu (明府真影流):
Meifu (明府) implies an organization/gathering of people with a clear purpose; to become knowledgeable/wise.
Shinkage (真影) refers to the ability to distinguish between truth (真, shin), and its shadow (影, kage). There is also a deeper meaning of concealing ones intent, strength, and technique, until the moment it is required.
Ryu (流) means a current, stream, or flow. When used as a suffix by traditional Japanese schools, it implies a living tradition, passing from one generation to the next in an unbroken lineage of teacher/student relationships.
In addition to teaching Meifu Shinkage Ryu, Someya-sensei published two books: Shurikenjutsu Nyumon (1980); and Kakushibukijutsu Nyumon (1983). Together they represent a wealth of information on a little known aspect of Japanese martial culture.
Otsuka-sensei is the current representative (宗家, soke) of Meifu Shinkage Ryu. As soke, he is the embodiment of the tradition, and tasked with passing it on to the next generation.
In his youth, Otsuka-sensei studied karate, with his father, and kendo, in school. He had a natural affinity to throwing objects and, as a teenager, spent hours throwing shuriken on his own. He did not have a teacher, so figured out a way that worked for him.
In 1980, while studying at university, Otsuka-sensei found the book "Shurikenjutsu Nyumon" by Someya-sensei. He was pleased to see that his own approach to throwing shuriken was similar to the method described in the book. Inspired, he continued to practice on his own until he could officially join Meifu Shinkage Ryu (1985).
Training was held every Sunday afternoon at Someya-sensei's house. Otsuka-sensei threw himself into the training, and was licensed as shihan (師範, master instructor) in 1991. He was one of four people to receive this license. However, by the time Someya-sensei passed away in 1999, Otsuka-sensei was the only active teacher.
Following the example of his teacher, Otsuka-sensei continued to study, and research, shurikenjutsu. In 2004 he published his first book, "Shurikenjutsu no Susume" (手裏剣術のススメ, Recommendations for Shurikenjutsu), and a DVD, "Hiden! Shurikenjutsu" (秘伝! 手裏剣術, Secret Transmission! Shurikenjutsu). He is currently working on a new English edition of a privately published book "How to Learn Meifu Shinkage Ryu".
In 2009, the family of Someya Chikatoshi officially recognized Otsuka-sensei as Nidai Soke, (二代宗家) second generation head, of Meifu Shinkage Ryu. Otsuka-sensei continues to work tirelessly to promote Meifu Shinkage Ryu; both in Japan, and abroad. In addition to teaching weekly classes in Tokyo, he monitors the training of a number shibu (branches), and keikokai (study groups), and travels internationally to teach seminars.
In an effort to introduce authentic Shurikenjutsu to people around the world, Otsuka-sensei maintains two websites; English and Japanese. He also has a youtube channel, with some short clips from classes, and demonstrations. In August 2012, Ostuka-sensei gave a lecture on shuriken at the Royal Armories Museum (Leeds, UK).
Training in Meifu Shinkage Ryu is primarily based around bo-shuriken, (棒手裏剣) spike/stick throwing blades. This is supplemented with the study of fundo-kusari, (分銅鎖) weighted chain, shoken, (掌剣) hand held blades, and other kakushi-buki, (隠し武器) hidden weapons.
We also study aspects of kenjutsu, (剣術) sword technique. This training is integral to understanding the context of Meifu Shinkage Ryu kata.
Members progress through 5 kyu levels, and 4 dan grades. There are no colored belts, or emblems denoting rank.
Standard training attire is dark blue uwagi (jacket), and blue, or black, hakama (pants). The uwagi may be plain, or it may have the appropriate Meifu Shinkage-ryu embroidery in gold. Many members also wear kaku-obi (belt), and tabi (indoor footwear).
Throwing shuriken is very relaxing. Almost like a form of meditation.Mind-Body Integration
There is only you, the shuriken, and the target. There is no argument, no excuses, only the truth of your technique.Ownership and Responsibility
It's not only about hitting the target. It's more about concentration, the intense work with ourselves, and the correct technique.Focus and Discipline
I appreciate the simultaneous excitement, and serenity.Challenging and Nourishing
Meifu Shinkage Ryu Manitoba Keikokai
Established in January 2015, Meifu Shinkage Ryu (MSR) Manitoba Keikokai operates as an authorized extension of the Meifu Shinkage Honbu. Our group leader is a personal student of Otsuka-sensei. We conduct our classes with his full support, and encouragement, while also enjoying, and appreciating, the fellowship of other Meifu Shinkage Ryu members worldwide.
In addition to hosting Ostuka-sensei for seminars in Winnipeg, members of Manitoba Keikokai travel to study with him in Japan. We also strive to attend Ostuka-sensei's seminars hosted by other keikokai in North America.
MSR Manitoba Keikokai meets on Sunday mornings, from 10:00am to 12:00pm, at a central location (see map below).
Students of other martial arts, as well as people with no previous martial arts training, are welcome to join, and train with us. No uniforms, or equipment, are needed to begin. If you have a uniform from another martial art, you may wear it. However no patches/emblems, or colored belts. A plain uniform, and white belt is acceptable.
The training fee for the MSR Manitoba Keikokai is $240 for 6 months ($40/month). MSR Honbu membership fee (1000¥/month) is included in Keikokai fee. Honbu membership is renewed twice per year (January and July).
As we use real weapons, membership is generally restricted to those 18 years, and older. Exceptions will be made for those 15+ years when accompanied by a parent.
All members of Meifu Shinkage Ryu Maintoba Keikokai are expected to act in accordance with all Canadian laws regarding the possession, and carriage of weapons. Any member acting contrary to those laws will be excluded from the Keikokai, and have their Honbu membership revoked.
Meifu Shinkage Ryu Keikokai are study groups, established with Otsuka-sensei's permission. In addition to guiding the training, group leaders act as administrators, and are expected to communicate regularly with the Meifu Shinkage Ryu Honbu, (本部) headquarters, in Chiba-ken, Japan.
If it works well, and follows the instruction of Otsuka-sensei, a keikokai may become a shibu, (支部) official branch dojo. If not, it will be dissolved by the Meifu Shinkage Ryu Honbu.
To become a shibu, the leader must have a minimum training history of two years, and hold shodan grade, in Meifu Shinkage Ryu.