The Iaido Journal  Aug 2012
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Kajitsuka Sensei Seminar 2012
Part 1: Seminar Report

copyright © 2012 Douglas Tong, all rights reserved. 

Kajitsuka Yasushi Sensei is the soke of Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu. He is the 11th lineal headmaster.

Kajitsuka Sensei is also the 3rd headmaster of the Ohtsubo branch of the Owari Line of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu.

Additionally, Kajitsuka Sensei is the Secretary General of the Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai (the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Classical Martial Arts and Ways) (日本古武道振興会 ), the oldest and largest national association of the classical styles of Japanese budo and bujutsu (koryu) in Japan.

Those interested in learning more about Kajitsuka Sensei can consult his group’s website:

On July 15 & 16, 2012, we had the unique opportunity to host Kajitsuka Sensei in his first seminar in Canada. This landmark event took place at Dragon Fencing Academy in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Sensei talking to the students about Yagyu Shingan Ryu

On the morning of the first day, he introduced the group to the art of Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu. He talked about the history of the style and traced its origins back to the founder, Araki Mataemon, who was connected to Yagyu Munenori. He also discussed the existence of the two current branches of the art, the Sendai-Line and the Edo-Line and how that division came about and its consequent effects on the ordering and categorizing of the techniques and katas within the schools.

Sensei’s written explanation of the waza and kata

When put in this historical context, it was easy for the students to see how the art evolved and how the existence of the two lines came into being. Heady stuff, yes, but necessary in order to put things into context. When we next examined and practiced the basic techniques of the style, it made perfect sense. We could see the logic inherent in the categorizing and ordering of the waza. As one student put it:

The techniques we learned in both Kenjutsu and Jujutsu in the seminar were subtle and impactful, similar to Kajitsuka sensei’s personality and teaching style. It was definitely a truly memorable and eye opening experience. I wish to thank Kajitsuka sensei for his willingness to not only share the techniques of his style but for giving us the insight, the purpose, and meaning behind these techniques.

Joel A.
Markham, ON

Soke explains about various joints, pressure points, and nerves

In the afternoon, the group continued to practice the basic principles of the style and their attendant waza and kata. The members were then given a treat when Kajitsuka Sensei presented each participant with their very own hachimaki, the headband used in Yagyu Shingan Ryu. Sensei then went over the purpose, the tradition, and the uses of the hachimaki (which he later revealed at our post-seminar social was not actually taught to him by his teacher until shodan level).

Soke demonstrates a take-down and submission technique

He then reviewed all that was done that day with each student personally, one-on-one, while everyone watched (mitori-geiko). He wanted to make sure every student had gotten them right. Having just arrived the previous night at 1:00 am and getting perhaps 3 hours sleep, then working hard all morning teaching and finally being thrown a total of more than 200 times by the 10 participants plus all the joint manipulations and take downs, we were all amazed at Soke’s stamina and fortitude. Simply amazing is the only word for it.

Sensei explains some of the intricacies of how to tie the rope (tying methods of hojojutsu)

Kajitsuka Sensei then finished off the seminar with a fascinating demonstration of hojojutsu*, the art of restraining a prisoner with a rope. Here, the students saw it all come together: the use of jujutsu to take down and submit the prisoner, and the use of hojojutsu to restrain and arrest him.

Soke demonstrating hojojutsu

After the seminar, we had a special ceremony where Kajitsuka Sensei presented each participant with a personalized shikishi, on which was written a saying, a piece of philosophy, or a principle from Yagyu Shingan Ryu or Yagyu Shinkage Ryu. Having gotten the list of attendees from myself and having seen their technique and spirit, he gave each participant some words to live by or some piece of philosophy to think deeply about, to guide them in their training or in their approach to budo and life in general. Each one was unique. The students were deeply touched by this personal gesture from Soke. It was a fitting end to a memorable first day. We all then went out to share in a nice dinner together.

Here is what one student had to say about the first day:

Dear Tong sensei,

First off, let me thank you sincerely for your efforts to bring Kajitsuka sensei to Canada and give us the opportunity to share his budo with us.

The seminar with Kajitsuka sensei was above our expectation. He was speaking in Japanese but we didn't have any problem understanding his message or the techniques. So far, that is the best seminar I have ever attended. We started with Taijutsu; He gave us some historical background. He emphasized the importance of Ukemi and what is a Koryu Ukemi. One thing I liked is that Sensei played the Uke for each of us and despite his age, his ability and toughness is unbelievable. He took us through Kata 1 with its 5 applications. He explained to us Reiho etiquette and how to use the headband. We finished with Seiza techniques and their applications, and then he answered our questions.

This seminar just opened my eyes to want to further study this system. I definitely want to train more with Kajitsuka sensei.

Mohammed B.
Richmond Hill, ON

The second day focused exclusively on Yagyu Shinkage Ryu kenjutsu. We have been patiently building our group since 2008, and we were eager to show him what we had accomplished. Kajitsuka Sensei opened our eyes further to the beauty of the art: its subtlety, its power, its finesse, and its strength.

Kajitsuka Sensei demonstrating Yagyu Shinkage Ryu with Mr. Tong

There were only 10 participants in each seminar. We purposefully kept our numbers low because we wanted to keep the experience genuine. It cost a little more for each participant but it was well worth it. They got a first-class experience: training with the soke, up close and personal. He got to know them and they got to know him.

Kajitsuka Sensei practiced with each student, one by one, over and over, in both seminars. He watched their paired practice too, and offered personal advice to each student.

One of the participants getting personalized one-on-one attention and advice from Soke

And at the end of the second day, we all sat down together after the seminar to talk and share experiences and ask him the questions about the two arts that the students had long thought about. We all had a great time talking about budo, Japanese history, philosophy, Japanese culture, and of course, Yagyu Shingan Ryu and Yagyu Shinkage Ryu. We talked, we drank, we ate, and talked some more. We ended the day with gift-giving, speeches, toasts, and good-byes.

Sensei answering a student’s question during the post-seminar pow-wow

From what I heard from the students, they were amazed that Kajitsuka Sensei was so approachable. Some of the students had been to other seminars where the teachers were either put on a pedestal, where the ordinary students could not get close to them, or else, the teachers put themselves on pedestals, remaining unapproachable and aloof, preferring to maintain a certain distance from the students. The students were struck by how “down-to-earth” and friendly he was.

Here is what another student thought about the whole experience of training with Soke:

It was an extraordinary experience to get to meet Kajitsuka Sensei. I was really blown away by his knowledge and understanding of both Yagyu Shingan Ryu and Yagyu Shinkage Ryu. But even more than that, I was blown away by his humility, passion, and love for his "Ryuha".

He is not just the "Soke", but a true teacher and we were really lucky to have him teach us for the two days that he spent with us.

Daniel C.
Woodbridge, ON

The students got to know Kajitsuka Sensei in an intimate way that weekend and he got to know them personally. And that was the whole point of the seminar.

Hello Mr. Tong,

I just wanted to thank you personally for the opportunity to be taught by Kajitsuka Soke. It was a great privilege and an even greater honour to have been taught so much and in such a personal way. It was a tremendous eye opening experience for me. The time and effort you and your family put forth was remarkable. I just wanted to thank you once again.

Domo arigato gozaimashita,

Patrick G.
Scarborough, ON

Making new friends

(Kajitsuka Sensei with Stanley Yee, the owner and president of Dragon Fencing Academy)

All in all, it was a wonderful experience for everyone with many fine memories.

Sensei with a few members of the Yagyu Shingan Ryu seminar group

Good times: painful but fun!

For more information about hojojutsu, see these links:

Mr. Tong’s group can be found at:

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