This is an introduction for those who are interested in kenjutsu (Japanese swordmanship), but don't know how to get involved.

This is the homepage of the dojo of Shiina Kazue Naritane sensei, the 7th headmaster of Hokushin Itto Ryu. 

Shiina Soke is known as a master of Hokushin Itto Ryu Kenjutsu and his contributing articles are often featured in the local Kendo magazines. But he is really a master who teaches us how to live a satisfying life through the art of swordman ship through a very clear and comprehensible method.

Shiina Soke's teaching is different from that of other martial artists. Other martial artists only teach the physical execution of the techniques, but Soke Shiina teaches the art of the mind. This is because the mind influences the physical body, and the physical body executes the techniques. The essence of the Hokushin Itto-ryu is that the working of the mind is the same for everyone, so once the working of the mind is grasped, anyone can immediately use the same techniques as the experienced master(s) regardless of their past physical training. This is why Shusaku Chiba, the founder of the school, was known as the “Master of superb techniques”.

The Shiina Soke has inherited this valuable training of the mind, which cannot be found anywhere else, and is passing this on in his dojo (school).

If you learn the Hokushin Itto-ryu swordsmanship of Shiina Soke, you will be able to have a relaxed and focused mind that will not be intimidated by any strong adversaries, enabling you to lead a fulfilled life.

Our school has one of the longest traditions in Japan, but we are able to enjoy our practice every time in a family-like atmosphere without any restrictive formalities.

Please feel free to visit and join our class. We look forward in seeing you soon.

On behalf of all the students of the Hokushin Itto Ryu School

The Benefits of Kenjutsu (quotes from the Soke)


Martial arts can improve your crisis management skills more than any other disciplines. In particular, swordsmanship is superior to other martial art because it is based on the premise that one mistake can result in instant death. In other words, swordsmanship is one of the most intensive discipline you can learn in life.


Because the offense and defense in kenjutsu is a very serious matter, the personality of the individual is clearly manifested during one’s training.

For instance, an arrogant person will use forceful techniques. A timid person will defend carefully, and so on. Since kenjutsu reveals such personality aspects of the practitioner(s) it makes possible to grasp one’s manifested behavior(s) and reflect yourself in order to develop the mind to a greater extent.

This is the reason why kenjutsu is more significant than other martial arts.

However, there are many types of kenjutsu, and kenjutsu that focuses only on executing the techniques can bring detrimental harm to oneself and other lives. There are many known types of swordsmanship. Misled swordsmanship has resulted in producing cold hearted killers such as Kawakami Gensai, Okada Izo, Tanaka Shinpei, and Kirino Toshiaki, the most feared swordsmen of the late Edo period (skilled assassins who cut down their victims motivated by their fanatical beliefs and emotions).

Some of the great early masters of the traditional schools were concerned about these aspects and taught their students to train their minds instead. Chiba Shusaku, who emerged at the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), compiled the mainstream sword techniques of the school. Although the Chiba Dojo was known as the school of " Master of superb techniques," it actually placed great importance on theory, study, and spiritual cultivation. It is precisely because of this spiritual aspect that the school developed into the largest dojo in Japan, producing many talented students with brilliant skills.


Based on this tradition, Hokushin Itto-ryu in our dojo emphasizes "Shinpo," or the “way of the mind”, and then move on to practice "Gijutsu," or the mastery of techniques. This is the opposite of sports, where learning techniques from a young age leads to faster progress than starting from an older age. Therefore, we welcome matured and senior adults to join us. 

Of course, women are also welcomed, as they are no less capable than men.

Whenever you feel that you are lacking some aspects in your life, please consider learning Hokushin Itto-ryu. It is not difficult to do, no matter what age and gender category you are from.

As the old adage goes, “If you want to do it, it's now or never."

If you don't want to feel any regrets, choose an orthodox teacher and follow his instruction.

Please feel free to knock on our door.

The 7th headmaster of Hokushin Itto-Ryu, Shiina Kazue Naritane

Note :

In other dojos, the essential techniques of the style are revealed to the public in order to attract and recruit new students, but this lacks the traditional respect. This is not only insulting to the founder of the school(s) who risked and spent their entire lives to develop these profound techniques, but it is also disrespectful to the incumbent students who are seriously trying to learn the art.

It is impossible to learn properly under a poor-hearted successor(s) of the style(s) who are focused only for publicity and profit making. It is for this reason that our Hokushin Itto-ryu school does not disclose its essential techniques to anyone other than the practicing students.

We sincerely hope that you will understand our school’s policy and intention.

This website is provided for the purpose for spreading the true understanding of Budo and Bushido, in accordance with the aspirations of the Soke. Therefore, it presents only the basic information. If you have viewed this Hokushin Itto Ryu website and want to know more about this discipline, we recommend you to visit our school and actually experience the art.

We assure that a new path in life will open up for you.


On behalf of all the students of the Hokushin Itto Ryu School

Introduction to Hokushin Ittoryu

Hokushin is another description for a Polar Star.

This naming is taken from "Hokushin Musoryu", a style practiced by the founder of the style, Master Chiba Shusaku Narimasa during his adolesence.

Ittoryu was taken from the "Nakanishi Ittoryu” school which he trained as a youth.

Since the Polar Star can be seen immovable in the center of the celestial sky the name “Hokushin Ittoryu” was used to imply the physical center where the strength gathered making the swordsman immovable and invincible.

The school (dojo) of Hokushin Ittoryu was located at, Kanda Otamaga Ike in today’s Chiyoda-ward, Tokyo and was named "Genbukan". Genbu is an imaginary beast that protects the northern sky and is represented in a chimerical form of a snake entangled by a turtle. The snake symbolizes the prosperity, while the turtle is said to symbolize the Martial Arts (Budo).

Characteristics of Hokushin Ittoryu

Hokushin Ittoryu is considered the most influential school during the end of Tokugawa period founded by a master swordsman Chiba Shusaku Narimasa.

Unlike the other sword schools in the past, it did away with any mystical and authoritative practice methods, with emphasis only on logical explanations and practical training, thus earning a reputation that the curriculum facilitated the progress in learning the art of swordsmanship.

It appealed and gathered a lot of students and when a roster of practitioners was dedicated in honor of the school at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa the names of listed students numbered over 6,000.

Master Shusaku trained the students by both introducing a shinai (bamboo stick) sparring with protective gears along with a kata (forms) practice and considered the two methods inseparable.

The adherence to kata training when most schools were only practicing shinai sparring is something to be noted.

This was influenced by the tutelage of Master Terada Goro Uemon during Master Chiba’s days at the Nakanishi school. (Master Terada was a formidable swordsman who achieved the highest level of swordsmanship only thru the practice of kata).

Master Chiba’s prowess was so great, such that the head of Jikishin Kageryu school, Master Otani (who was the highest ranking swordsman at that time) commented that “Master Chiba must have faced unimaginable hardships to achieve such a high level of skills”

His second son Eijiro was also reputed with outstanding skills, and they together became a father and son model as Akiyama Kohei and Daijiro, two main characters of a well-known and popular Japanese periodic novel entitled the “Kenkaku Shobai.” ( Professional Swordsmen).

About Master Chiba Shusaku

Master Chiba Shusaku Narimasa was the son of the swordsman Chuzaemon, who was originally from Miyagi Prefecture. He was born as the second son of his family in Kesen-Mura. The father and son later moved to Mito Prefecture where during childhood he practiced the Hokushin Musoryu under the tutelage of Master Chiba Yoshinojo.

At the age of 16 as an adopted son of Master Yoshinojo he assumed the name Shusaku and left for Edo (today’s Tokyo) to practice under the tutelage of Master Asari Matashichiro Yoshinobu. From there on his name remained as Chiba Shusaku Narimasa.

Master Asari Matashichiro Yoshinobu

Master Asari was an expert swordsman from the Nakanishi style school and was appointed as the guardian of the Nakanishi family.

This is considered an exceptional position as such that if the Nakanishi family resulted in losing all of its successor(s) the Asari family will assume the position to succeed and head the school..

In another words, Master Asari wielded a special influence to one of the most prestigious sword school at that time in Edo (today’s Tokyo).

Master Asari saw a genius in Chiba Shusaku.

Master Asari first trained Shusaku as the most valued student at his own school and once considering him ready, sent him to continue his practice at the Nakanishi school.

At that time Nakanishi school was considered to be the best training hall in Japan attended by famous practitioners such as Goro Terada, Toru Shirai, Takayanagi Matashiro and Asari Shichiro Yoshiaki who later tutored the famous Yamaoka Tesshu to achieve zen enlightenment thru the practice of swordsmanship.

By giving him that opportunity, Master Asari helped progress Shusaku’s mastery of his swordsmanship. However, for Shusaku, being a genius as he was, even training at the number one school in Japan did not make him satisfied.

The birth of the Hokushin Ittoryu

Soon, Master Chiba began to make changes to improve the Ittoryu style.

For Master Asari who had great hopes for Chiba Shusaku’s talent, it made his position politically difficult as a guardian of the Nakanishi style since he needed to protect the school’s tradition.

In order to avoid any conflicts, both parties decided to separate amicably thus allowing Master Chiba to pursue new possibilities

It should be noted that even after the separation, the relation remained amicable since Master Chiba continued to use the name of Asari Shusaku whenever he wrote his manuscripts.

As a result, Master Chiba Shusaku left the Asari household together with his wife and became independent, establishing a new school named the Hokushin Itttoryu.

The demise of Hokushin Ittoryu

With the Meiji Restoration, the carrying and use of the sword was legally banned. Also for the Chiba family the succeeding children all died whilst young, and this misfortune led to the demise of the lineage in three generations starting from Shusaku to Eijiro and finally to Michisaburo.

Restoration of Hokushin Ittoryu school of swordsmanship

During the Meiji period it was the Tobu Hall at Mito that preserved the technical transmission of the style.

The Hokushin Ittoryu techniques were handed down from Master Chiba Eijiro to Ozawa Toraichi, then to his son Ichiro and finally to the family’s adopted son Toyokichi.

At other training halls, the practice method of using the Oni Gote (a large-sized leather gloves used for striking when practicing the kata) ceased to be transmitted.

When Master. Ichiro 's real daughter grew up and got married, the Ozawa family’s son - in - law (Takeshi Ozawa) took over the running of the school. This arrangement ended in Master Toyokichi’s abrupt departure from the Tobu Hall where he was eventually invited to become the instructor at the newly opened “Kodo Gikai Society”* in Tokyo .

As a result there was no transmission and exchange of techniques between Master Toyokichi and the Mito contingent, there after making the practice of Hokushin Ittoryu at Tobu Hall merely in name only.

The actual transmission of the Hokushin Ittoryu sword techniques got inherited at the fencing classes held at Kodo Gikai Society.

*a politically backed non-profit organization established in 1918 to preserve various Japanese traditions and ideology.

As a result there was no transmission and exchange of techniques between Master Toyokichi and the Mito contingent, there after making the practice of Hokushin Ittoryu at Tobu Hall merely in name only.

The actual transmission of the Hokushin Ittoryu sword techniques got inherited at the fencing classes held at Kodo Gikai Society.

The Tobu school transmission at Kodo Gikai Society

The training hall at the Kodo Gikai was located in the vicinity of the rear gate of the Shinjuku Gyoen Park which like the former Genbukan was considered to be the largest in Japan. The organization was backed by influential politicians and the events were sponsored by big businesses. The fencing tournaments held at its facility were often covered by radio broadcasts and other publications such that it became very well-known and popular throughout Japan.

Tanijima Saburo, became an inside disciple of Master Toyokichi at the Kodo Gikai Society, thus inducted to the Hokushin Ittoryu’s technical lineage.

Master Yajima Saburo

Master. Yajima was born in Kukizaki-cho, Ibaraki Prefecture. After graduating Ryugasaki Junior High School and while enrolled at Nishou Gakusha, he also became a private student at the Kodo Gikai Society.

He eventually became skilled in Hokkushin Ittoryu to a point where he performed the “uchidachi” when demonstrating the kata with Master Toyokichi

However, the facility of Kodo Gikai Society got destroyed by air raids during WWII. Master Yajima returned to his hometown after the war and held classes at nearby Ushiku City.

After Master Yajima’s demise, the practitioners of Hokushin Ittoryu steadily declined in numbers..

It was only Shiina Kazue (the current Soke – Grand Master) that ended up remaining the last practitioner and the lineage holder.

The following is a brief summary concerning the state of lineage today.

The lineage today – Soke (the Grand Master)

With the mainstream lineage ceasing to exist, many schools and organization claiming to be Hokushin Ittoryu today are in name only.

However, the official entitlement of "Hokushin Ittoryu " has been preserved by the family lineage of Chiba Hideyuki who served at the Nakanishi school as a secretary for handing out grades and teaching licenses to their practitioners.

The Chiba Family tried to bestow the Hokushin Ittoryu Grand Master title to Shiina Kazue, whom they considered the last individual who had inherited the orthodox techniques of the style.

Another big factor it seems was that the first generation ancestors of the Chiba and the Shiina family were actually blood related.

It is quite a different matter becoming the head of the lineage from just a mere practitioner. In the past Shiina sensei declined the request on numerous occasions stating that he did not have the quality to assume such responsibilities. But during June 2013, after his 60th birthday, he finally decided to accept and assume role as the seventh generation Grand Master of the Hokushin Ittoryu school of swordsmanship.