TOSHITSUGU TAKAMATSU SOKE

Toshitsugu (Hisatsugu) Takamatsu was born on the 23th year of the Meiji era (10.3.1887.), in Akashi, the Hyogo province. The Takamatsu family originates from Matsugashima in Isa. During one period of history of the family, Takamatsu was a Daimyo of the teritory, with his own Hosokubi castle. One of their ancestors was Takamatsu Masatoshi. The family was also conected with the Amsuta temple. Fujiwara Toshihiro gave to the Takamatsu family makimono script called Amatsu Tatara which he guarded in the temple.

His grandfather, Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu, had a clinic for bones and a Budo Dojo in Kobe. In that Dojo he was a Soke of the martial system known as Shindenfudo Ryu. Toda was the 8th generation of Tozawa Ryu Taro and was a descendant of Tozawa Hakuunsai, the original founder of Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu. Toda had a samurai rank and had his origins from Iga province. Some members of the Takamatsu family came from Takao, the mountain part of Iga province. Takamatsu said that he thinks that only a small part of his family studied Ninjutsu. Toda also taught Shinden Koto Ryu Karate (the name later changed to Koto Ryu Koppojutsu), Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu, Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo, Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo and Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu. Toda was, besides that, a senior instructor in Bikenshin Ryu Kenjutsu, the school taught by Tokugawa shoguns which he taught in the military academy in Nakano.

After young Takamatsu learned Shindenfudo Ryu, Toda taught him Koto Ryu and then, Togakure Ryu. In that time Toda was writing a book of military strategy and was called to teach in the Imperial military school. Later Toda and Takamatsu together published a military manual (there is still no evidence that it was recovered), and the army accepted those technics to their system.

In the spring, when he was 13 (1900. ), Takamatsu leaves highschool to go to the English school George Bundow and a Chinese Classical school in the town he was born, Kobe. After some time he joined the Takagi Yoshin Ryu school, where Mizuta Yoshitaro Tadafusa was the 15. Soke. He trained in his Dojo every day and when he was 17 Mizuta gave him the Menkyo Kaiden of Takagi Yoshin Ryu.

Takamatsu learned the “Kuki Happo Biken no Jutsu” (The art of hidden weapons against the nine demons in eight directions – Kukishinden Ryu) from his fathers relative named Ishitani Matsutaro Takekage. Ishitani among others, trained different aspects of Ninjutsu and taught Takamatsu some other schools that he was also Soke. They were Hon Tai Takagi Yoshin Ryu (which Takamatsu already learned with Mizuto), Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu and Shinden Muso Ryu.

After the death of his grandfather Toda, Takamatsu left to China. One of the reasons for this, he stated, was a wish to test his training, and how this was no longer possible in Japan, he left to China to work for many militant warlords scattered all over China.

When he travelled to China for thr first time, Takamatsu went over Korea and learned with Kim Kei-mei. Later he mastered 18 Chinese and Korean martial arts. Some of the teritories in China where Takamatsu went were Tensein, Mongolia and Manchuria, where he served many masters, and spent 10 years. When he was in China Takamatsu faught in few battles. To survive in China, Takamatsu taught martial arts. At one point, when he was in an english school, he had over 1000 students. Many senior master martial artists came to fight him. In the past one had to accept challenges of others – acceptance was the only way to keep your credibility as a martial artist and a teacher. He faught against all challengers and never lost a single fight, although some were called a draw. In Takamatsu’s diary stands that he faught in 12 fights to the death and that he had 7 competition fights. Fights to the death were the result of challenges. All these things happened when he was closing to his age of 30. Because of his fights and his way of fighting Takamatsu was known on the East as “The Mongolian tiger”.

Takamatsu returned to Japan in 1919. No longer after, he went to the Tendai temple on the Hiei mountain in Kyoto where he became a priest. Later he became an abbot in that temple. Although he said that he wasn’t a religious person, he was of adjustable spirit and it is possible that he was taught in three totally different religions. He often prayed for the people he killed and he once said that he made many mistakes in his youth.

Takamatsu was also a consultant in a movie “Shinobi no mono”, done by Daiei. He taught Bojutsu to some actors in the movie.

In his late years, Takamatsu ran a small tea house and a hotel in Kashiwara, Nara, Japan. He also taught Ninjutsu to few students there. Takamtsu called his Dojo “Sakushin”.

In the 50’s, Takamatsu took a new student by the name Hatsumi Masaaki, a young man at the age of 26. Hatsumi allready learned Kobudo then with the teacher called Ueno. Ueno told him that he had nothing to teach him any more and then Hatsumi went to Nara where he wanted to find a martial arts teacher. Hatsumi allready had Dan grades in some arts, like Karate, Aikido and a 4th Dan in Judo, and he also taught Judo in the American army base in Zama.

Takamatsu had some other students, besides Hatsumi and some of them were: Akimoto Fumio, Ueno Takashi, Takeuchi Kikakusai, Tatsuta Yasuchiro, Hanaoka Nangaku, Sato Kinbei, Koba Koshiro.

One day Takamatsu and Hatsumi were sitting in a room when Takamtsu told Hatsumi to close his eyes while he gets out of the room and to keep them closed. Hatsumi heard when Takamatsu Sensei left the room and went down the stairs. However, he didn’t hear when his teacher went in to the room again because he used the Ninja methods of stealth movement and entering (shinobi iri). Then Takamatsu attacked Hatsumi behind his back with a katana, performing Jumonji Kiri (one vertical, one horisontal cut), to what Hatsumi moved away. Takamatsu then said that he passed the “Sakki test”. After that, Takamatsu gave to Hatsumi Menkyo Kaiden, and Hatsumi became certified in nine schools.

Takamatsu said to rest of his students that Hatsumi is the most fitting and the best person to carry on the tradition and made him Soke of the nine warrior arts.

Hatsumi then officially became Soke. He founded what we know now as Bujinkan which includes the teachings of all nine traditions passed on to him by Takamatsu Sensei. Hatsumi Soke created his own Dojo with his own rules.

Takamatsu Soke died shortly after that on 2nd april 1972.g., in the age of 85. Allthough he stopped trainings in the age of 80, he continued monitoring Hatsumi’s personal training. He looked upon Hatsumi like his son.

Takamatsu was a member of Shobu Bureau, a former president of Nippon Minkoku Seinen Botoku kai (the Martial arts organisation for Japanese youth) and was known in Japan as a teacher of Jujutsu and Bojutsu. Of the nine school, in Japan he was known only for Kukishinden Ryu. It is said that when he died, his neighbours were shocked when they read in his life overview of the deceased that he was actually the grandmaster of the last and ancient Ninjutsu school, Togakure Ryu.

Takamatsu Toshitsugu Soke was indeed a great man an a living example of a true master martial artist. Because of our time and of the fast changes in the way of life of people in the last 50 years, he was maybe the last of the truly great Samurai – quality warriors. Maybe one day his stories of real battles and his personal spiritual wisdom will be told and added to other great martial artists in history, like Musashi.

Bujinkan students are lucky that they can learn the arts and practice a system that this man assembled for us, truly living the traditions of Budo from the beginning to the end.