Mizoguchi Ha Itto Ryu

Wada Shin sensei and Mizoguchi Ha Itto Ryu

Mizoguchi_ImageKashi No Ki Kenyu Kai has been very fortunate to receive training in Mizoguchi Ha Itto Rya from sensei Hiroshi Ozawa, a rarely practised form of Kenjutsu. Members of the dojo continue to practice Mizoguchi in addition to regular kendo practice.

Below is a translation of an article  in Kendo Jidai (April,2009) explaining its origins. Thank you to Kazuyo Matsuda, 7-Dan, for translating.

Wada Shin sensei was born in Aizu-Wakamatsu city 6th April 1897. He began kendo firstly with his father Matsushiro and then at the Aizu Junior High School with Akira/Toru Sugawara. During his study at the Tokyo Shihan High School Physical Education department he was taught by Takano Sasaburo. After his graduation he was appointed as Shihan at Ishikawa Shihan School, Kanazawa 4th High School, 7th Junior High School and Kogyokusha Junior High School. In 1932 he went to Manchuria and was Shihan at South Manchu Industrial School Kendo Club. During his stay in Manchuria he studied with Takano Shigeki Shihan.

At the very end of the 2nd World War (Far East conflict) actually on the 31st July 1945 to be precise, Wada sensei summoned 600 staff immediately after he was informed that he was to become the chief of patrol police in Manchuria, this while he was still working as a teacher at the South Manchurian Industrial School. This was the final acceptance of Japan’s defeat in the war and in the hindsight was probably a response to try and protect the Japanese living in Manchuria. The end of the war was declared on the 15th August 1945.

The Chinese military then prosecuted Wada sensei asking for the death sentence for the war crime of hiding weapons.

At the trial the military judge asked Wada sensei
“Do you like the Emperor?”
“Yes, I do” was his reply
The judge immediately asked “Why?”
“The reply to the Judge was “Do you like Mao”
The Judge answered “I do.”
“It’s the same reason for both of us then”, Wada sensei replied
The judge then stated but asked also asked a further question? “The defendant is an honest Japanese person, but it true that you hid weapons?”
“It is not true.” was Wada sensei’s final answer.
“The judge trusts the voice of the man of truth.” Was the Judge’s final reply and he then turned down the prosecution of death sentence against Wada sensei and announced a not guilty verdict. In April 1947, Wada sensei returned to Aizu-Wakamatsu with his family, where he found kendo activity deteriorating, he then started to work towards the reinstatement of Kendo with his colleagues.

The GHQ had forbidden the teaching in school of Kendo (6th Nov 1945) and demanded the dismissal of The Dai Nippon Butoku-Kai (9th Nov 1946) and also stopped practice for police kendo (21st May 1949)
The former Aizu Junior High School graduates founded ‘Kenyu Kai’ and resumed kendo practice in the evenings in 1947; its Chairman was Wada sensei. It was still forbidden to practice kendo in schools and kendo practice at school facilities was also strictly forbidden for students and adults.

It is therefore quite astonishing that the head of the school decided to provide such a permission to pursue the activity of Kendo at that time.

Ozawa Hiroshi sensei (8-dan) demonstrating Mizoguchi

In April 1950, the representative of a group who wished for a Kendo reinstatement visited Wakamatsu Police and asked the chief for supply of a venue for their kendo practice. That representative was Wada sensei. The chief promised to provide a venue within the police premise during the evenings for one hour from 7pm, 3 times a week. This was also during the time when police kendo was also strictly forbidden by the GHQ. Here again it is astonishing that such a contradictory decision was made by a chief of police.

The All Aizu Kendo Federation was founded prior to the All Japan Kendo Federation. and on the 14th The All Japan To-zai (or East-West) Kendo Championships was held on the 15th September 1968 at Fukushima Sports Hall.

Each team had 30 players and the matches swung both ways but eventually they finally drew, leaving the winners, the West team to be announced by counting the points scored, which came to be only a difference of one point.

When the Federation requested Fukushima Prefecture to provide a demonstration of the Koryu of Fukushima for the To-zai Kendo Championships, Wada sensei was convinced that it was time for Mizoguchi-Ha to be revealed and to contribute to the development of kendo for the future. And for such a mission, keeping the old secrecy traditions of the school was considered to be out of date.

For the further continuance of the Ryu Ha he then chose Yoshikawa Tadashi, who was his junior at Tokyo Shihan School and was teaching at Aizu High School at the time. They then began Mizoguchi-Ha Itto-Ryu practice at Aizu Butokuden.

On the day of the Championships a most memorable demonstration of Mizoguchi-Ha Itto-ryu was performed, which had the spectators’ breathless after having watched such a heated Kendo match previously.  Uchidachi was performed by Wada Shin sensei with Yoshikawa Tadashi sensei as Shidachi.

All of the kendoka present had an eye opening experience as they witnessed a remarkable performance of Mizoguchi-Ha Itto-Ryu.

Mizoguchi-Ha Itto-Ryu is one of the Aizu Five Ryu-Ha and was specifically taught secretly, forbidding indiscretion and had never been exposed to the public before. On this day the old tradition was broken and Sayu-Tenka-Demi-no-Hitachi was performed in front of public spectators in the full light of day

Mizoguchi history
The Aizu clan had lost in the Boshin War and although they had succeeded in the release of the chief of the clan Matsudaira Hiroshi and his son Tamotsu, the responsibility of defeat fell on Kanno Gonbei the most senior advisor to the clan, who was then taken to Tokyo for Seppuku on the 18th May 1869. The night before this date he and Hanshi Iuka Takuuzaemon who accompanied him to Tokyo performed tea for their farewell. Kanno was a master in the Mizoguchi-Ha Itto-Ryu. He took a pair of bamboo chopsticks used for tea and taught Ibuka the Mizoguchi-Ha as he was afraid of the demise of the Ryu-Ha by his own death.

Ibuka’s daughter Mieko married Wada Matashiro of Byakkotai. Ibuka taught Matashiro Mizoguchi-Ha Itto-Ryu. They had 4 sons and 4 daughters and he taught his 3rd son Kei and 4th son Shin Mizoguchi-Ha and strictly forbade indiscretion or disclosure of the Ryu Ha. Wada sensei was only 10 years old when his father first taught him the Mizoguchi-Ha the Mizoguchi-Ha Itto-Ryu ‘Sayu-Tenka-Demi-no-Hitachi’.

From 1947 Wada sensei taught at Wakamatsu commerce High School and in 1948 took office at Aizu-Wakamatsu Physical Education Association.
Founder of the Aizu Shinai Kendo Renmei Aizu-Wakamatsu branch and was vice-chairman. He also taught at Aizu College and was the all Aizu Kendo Renmei Chairman, Aizu Butokuden Shihan, Fukushima Kendo Renmei vice-Chairman and All Kendo Federation Committee member. He also received the Fukushima Prefecture Cultural Contribution award. Kendo Hanshi 9th Dan he died on the 17th September 1982 aged 84.

The practice of this old school of swordsmanship (koryu) has been transmitted to Kashi no ki kenyu kai by Ozawa Hiroshi sensei Kyoshi Hachidan, based on demonstration, video and instruction by Ozawa Hiroshi sensei, Meguro Hideharu sensei and Ninomiya Itaru sensei