Shintō Musō-ryū Jodo at the Kashima Shrine

What is Shintō Musō-ryū?

Shintō Musō-ryū is a traditional school of martial arts, known as Koryū which often have roots in ancient martial arts during the samurai age. The primary weapon of Shintō Musō-ryū is the jo or short staff – jojutsu, which is used to defeat a swordsman armed with a katana. Most practitioners of Shintō Musō-ryū are not only skilled in the short staff but also iai (drawing the sword) and kenjustsu (sword technique) and often have links today in modern kendo. Today the art of the short staff is known as jodo.

Musō Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi

Jodo was founded by Musō Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi, a well known samurai in the early Edo period (1603–1868). Musō Gonnosuke was a skilled martial artist, with expertise in kenjutsu, naginatajutsu, sōjutsu and bōjutsu. With all probability, these combat skills were horned at one of Japan’s oldest schools known to all samurai during this period, Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū, located not far from the Kashima Shrine.

Musō Gonnosuke has often been compared to another famous swordmaster of the same period, Musashi Miyamoto and they do have many similarities in both being musha shugyo, or warriors who traveled across Japan facing challengers to test their sword skills. Legend says that it was his defeat against Musashi in Edo in 1608, that led Musō Gonnosuke to develop the short staff into a practical weapon that could defeat the sword. This school is Shintō Musō-ryū .

Shintō Musō-ryū Today

The location of our jodo filming is Kashima Shrine in Ibaraki, which has great significance with students of traditional Japanese martial arts. The shrine is dedicated to the deity Takemikazuchi-no-Ōkami, god of thunder and  known as the patron of martial arts. This high ranking Shinto shrine was favored by Daimyo (warlords) and samurai, who would visit Kashima prior to an important battle.

A major school of Shintō Musō-ryū is Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū in Chiba, and Empty Mind Films are fortunate to have visited this important school of Koryū. We are also pleased to be friends of sensei Phil Relnick who studied Shintō Musō-ryū Jo and trained at Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto Ryu during his many decades living in Japan. Relnick sensei now teaches Shintō Musō-ryū Jo at his own Shintokan Dojo in Washington state.

In the above video of Shintō Musō-ryū, the sensie is Abe Osamu, a student of the jodo master, Kaminoda sensei. Today the jodo practice of the All Japan Kendo Federation is taken directly from the kata of Shintō Musō-ryū jodo.

Movies featuring Kendo and Jodo