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Dealing with Nito Part 2 - Shinto Muso Ryu

When talking about Nito, Shinto Muso Ryu must be of interest due to the story of the encounter/s between the school's founder Musō Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi and the most famous adept of Nito swordsmanship Miyamoto Musashi.  I once asked a senior Jodo practitioner about any lore with regards to the method used to defeat Musashi (according to the school) as I presumed this would have been preserved.  The answer I received was that it was the use of Tai Atari, as seen in the Kihon, which is said to have been the technique which overcame the famous warrior (although this, like the story itself, should be considered here-say at best).  We do however see this technique put to use against two swords in the Okuden set.

Chudan Kengome

Shinto Muso Ryu is interesting as it puts a long(ish) weapon against the two sword style in a few examples.  The Kengome kata from the Chudan set begins with a slow setup, like Kasumi Shinto Ryu, where the Jo user attacks the crossed guard from below, opening the guard and taking the centre.

The forearm holding the longsword is targeted from below.

Here having the long weapon in the centre means the short weapon falls short.

With the guard open, a counter to the short weapon has a large power and leverage advantage, here the weapon is knocked from the hand (or the arm disabled), and the encounter proceeds in the manner of facing a single sword.

Okuden Uchiwake

Interestingly, with the long weapon, we see an initial attack from above into the crossed guard.  The guard is quite strong blocking upwards into a downward attack.  If the crossed guard is struck from above (ie the apex is, say, middle or below) it will be pushed down.  I would guess that perhaps Tai Atari is the desired tactic and a strong upward catching block may open the door to the move.  Here the proponent with two swords opens the guard to avoid the blow.

The proponent with two swords then re-crossed his blades and tries to lock the tip of the longer weapon on the ground.  The Jo retreats to avoid the pin and attacks the swordsman, now low, from above.

Okuden Suigetsu

Here the kata starts in the same way as the previous one, however, the proponent with two swords is able to pin the tip of the Jo to the ground.  The Jo then uses leverage by changing the angle of their arm and pushing the grip-end of the Jo towards the swordsman to free the tip.

Once again a strike is made from above but the swordsman is able to catch the Jo in a strong upward cross.  Here the grip-end of the Jo can be pushed in under the cross, in the form of Tai Atari, effectively knocking the swordsman over by setting them back on their heels.

So from Shindo Muso Ryu using a longish weapon we have:
  • Attacking the mid to high crossed guard (or arms) from below.
  • Opening the crossed guard to take the centre.
  • Countering single handed blows.
  • Attacking the mid to low crossed guard from above, with a view to either pushing both hands down or using Tai Atari from a high crossed block.
  • Avoiding an attempt to use the cross to pin the tip of the weapon on the ground, by retreating.
  • Recovering a pinned tip by pushing the other end towards the swordsman.
  • Coming under a high crossed block by pushing the grip-end in from underneath, in the manner of Tai Atari.

The demonstrations from which these stills are taken can be found below.  We are lucky nowadays to have access to such a wealth of video, for example for most of the several-hundred-year history of Shinto Muso Ryu the only way you would be able to see their Okuden set would be to study with them assiduously, whereas now one can simply view it on YouTube.

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