Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu is the oldest of the nine martial art traditions that make up the Bujinkan System, and it is safe to say that it is the core style of the majority of our arts.  Hatsumi Sensei has stated that the koshijutsu forms the basis of the following systems: Togakure, Koto, Gikan, Shinden Fudo, Gyokushin, and Kumogakure.  The name 'Gyokko' means Jeweled Tiger, or Tiger Jewel, and may refer to the eye of the tiger.

         The method of movement and basic principles were developed in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).  It is thought to be developed by either a smaller man or a woman, based on the movement.   It is known that there was a woman in the court of Chanan (the capital of the Tang Dynasty) very well known for her martial arts abilities.  When the Tang Dynasty fell in 907, many of the Chinese nobility escaped into Japan.  The names Yo Gyokko (Yao Yu Hu) and Cho Gyokko are associated with the art leaving China and arriving in Japan.  (They possibly were the same person).  General Ikai (or Ibou) is also associated with the origin of Gyokko Ryu.  According to Hatsumi Sensei that person could also be somebody (bou) from foreign (I) country.


         The first actual Soke of what we would call 'official Gyokko Ryu' was Tozawa Hakuunsai.  His name suggests a connection with Hakuun Ryu Ninjutsu, which no longer exists.  This was in the Hogen Era (1156-1159), which makes Gyokko Ryu one of the oldest documented martial art systems in Japan.  Hatsumi Sensei has said in fact that koshijutsu is the basis of martial arts in Japan, and that it forms the backbone (koshi) of the fighting systems in the Iga Region (I'm assuming he's referring to all ninjutsu clans). The Bugei Ryu-ha Daijiten refers to the Gyokko Ryu as "Kosshijutsu, Shitojutsu, Ninpo".




      Koshijutsu means 'to knock down an enemy with one finger'.  Therefore, intense striking training was involved, mostly to the fingers, toes and knuckles, but also with all parts of the body.   The style is characterized by powerful blocks with the knuckles that destroy the muscles of the opponent, ripping, piercing and tearing techniques with the fingers and toes, powerful stomping kicks, and close grappling with locks and throws.  It was taught in the Gyokko Ryu to only use as much strength as needed to defeat the opponent.  They were also known for their skill with the sword, 6-foot staff and knife.


  The character NIN means to guard the nation with even your life.

  Forget self; be patient and do not fear dying.

  In danger, say and show nothing.

  As a strong enemy comes, keep an indomitable spirit.

  Serve and protect the master, as you must your parents.

  Vices dissipate your proficiency.

  Being drunk affects your judgement.

  Destroy the enemy?s power but leave his life.

  Do not teach others without the master's permission.





Headmasters of Gyokko Ryu




Sasabe, Tendo

Hachiryu, Nyudo

Tozawa, Hakuunsai

Tozawa, Shozuke

Suzuki, Saburo Shigeyoshi

Suzuki, Gobei

Suzuki, Kojiro Mitsu

Tozawa, Nyudo Geneai

Yamon, Hyoun

Kato, Ryu Hakuun

Sakagami, Goro Katsushige

Sakagami, Taro Kunishige

Sakagami, Kotaro Masahide

Sougyoko, Kan Ritsushi

Toda, Sakyo Ishinsai

Momochi, Sandayu 1

Momochi, Sandayu 2

Momochi, Tanba Yasumitsu

Momochi, Taro Saemon

Toda, Seiryu Nobutsuna

Toda, Fudo Nobuchika

Toda, Kangoro Nobuyasu

Toda, Eisaburo Nobumasa

Toda, Shinbei Masachika

Toda, Shingoro Masayoshi

Toda, Daigoro Chikashige

Toda, Daisaburo Chikashige

Toda, Shinryuken Masamitsu

Takamatsu, Toshitsugu

Hatsumi, Masaaki