Tenshin Buko-ryu (formerly known as Toda-ha Buko-ryu) is a battlefield tradition focused on the use of the naginata or glaive; it is unusual in that many of the techniques are naginata vs. naginata. It also includes techniques against sword, spear, and kusarigama. All techniques are done as if in armor.
Meik Skoss, who holds a shihan license with full authority (inka) in the ryu, has been teaching in Northern New Jersey since 2003. Training is held regularly on Sunday mornings.
Tenshin Buko-ryu was founded by Toda Seigen in the mid-sixteenth century. He and his younger brother, Kagemasa, were members of a famous family of Chujo-ryu swordsmen, and Seigen was especially noted for his ability with the short sword. Because of their outstanding abilities, their art came to be called the Toda-ryu. The name was changed, first to Buko-ha Toda-ryu and later to Toda-ha Buko-ryu, under its thirteenth headmaster, Suneya Ryosuke Takeyuki. The most recent name change, to Tenshin Buko-ryu Heiho, both returns to a prior name used by Suneya and reflects the current diversity of techniques.
Although Buko-ryu was originally a comprehensive fighting system, a number of sets have been lost over the centuries, and the tradition now centers on two types of naginata, the straight or su-naginata, and a cross-barred kagitsuki naginata. There are also six-foot staff, representing a naginata with its blade broken off, and nagamaki techniques. A total fifty-one techniques divided into five sets have been transmitted directly (the honden) and there are three sets (betsuden) that have been recently reconstructed based on old descriptions and drawings. All of the techniques were done as if wearing battlefield armor; as a result the stances are low and the movements large and powerful.
Nitta Suzuo (female headmasters take masculine forms of their personal names) was the 19th headmaster, and Meik Skoss’ teacher. There are four levels of technical licenses–shoden, chuden, okuden, and okuden mokuroku–and two levels of instructional certification–shihan-dai and shihan. There are two shihan, with full teaching authority, presently residing in the U.S., Ellis Amdur and Meik Skoss.
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