This Kokusai Toyama Ryu Renmei (KTRR, AKA International Toyama Ryu Federation) is headed and founded by Obata Toshishiro, Honbucho. Obata Sensei originally came to America in 1980, licensed with the positions and responsibilities of Beikoku Honbucho (American Headquarters) for Toyama ryu, Nakamura ryu and Battodo, and is continuing in his efforts now under the KTRR.
Originally a small sub-system of sword drawing techniques created for officers of the Japanese Imperial Army, Toyama ryu is now represented in various forms throughout the world as an independent sword art.
The Toyama ryu "gunto soho" (military sword methodology) was created and standardized (seitei) in 1925 in response to concern that officers would not be able to effectively draw and employ their sword (gunto) should the need arise while operating in hostile environments. After WWII, the Japanese Imperial Army was disbanded, and three major lines of Toyama ryu were adapted and taught independently - Morinaga style, Yamaguchi style, and Nakamura style. Nakamura Taizaburo Sensei was one of Obata Sensei's main sword instructors. In view of Obata Sensei's skill and dedication, the art of Toyama ryu was charged to him upon his relocation to America as the Chief Instructor of America.
Gunto no Soho kata
(Ushiro no Teki).
Since that time, Toyama ryu has been completely subsumed into the Shinkendo curriculum and embellished as follows:
Toyama ryu is categorized in Shinkendo as "gaiden waza" (borrowed techniques). Though ranks are awarded separately for Toyama ryu, these limited methods are taught as part of the overall Shinkendo curriculum, and as such cannot be taught independent of the art of Shinkendo. The KTRR does not participate in form (engi) or cutting (tameshigiri) competitions, and is not affiliated with any other line or organization.
Our line of Toyama ryu emphasizes accurate, powerful and rapid deployment of the sword, combined with a strong expression of kiai. This spirit of training was how the art was originally taught to the students of the Imperial Japanese Army Rikugun Toyama Gakko. Though elements of Iai arts were used in the formation of the Toyama ryu curriculum originally, the context and intent of Toyama ryu and modern Iaido are totally different, and were not intended to be practiced in the same way.
The Toyama Ryu Battodo system stems from the “Gunto Soho” (military sword curriculum) of the Rikugun Toyama Gakko (Toyama Military Academy). The academy was formed in 1873 and officially adopted its sword curriculum in order to train officers in the Imperial Japanese Army in 1925.
Nakamura Taizaburo Sensei was one of the instructors at the Toyama academy and it is from his teachings that we derive our lineage. During the Second World War, he also was a member of the Nanpo Kirikomitai (Southern Special Attack Force) who was known for facing modern infantry carrying only their swords. His experiences using a sword in battle during the war caused him to make some significant changes to the original curriculum.
It is the above history which has made Toyama Ryu above all a simple and practical system of swordsmanship. Battodo training is made up of Suburi (sword cutting combinations), Kata (sword forms), Kumitaichi (paired training) and Tameshigiri (target cutting). In the beginning students practice using a Boken (wooden sword), then once basic proficiency is gained they move on to using a real sword. The name Battodo (sword drawing way) refers to the understanding that the benefits of training in Toyama Ryu should go far beyond the physical. Working with a blade should sharpen the practitioner’s mental focus and strengthen their spirit.
Aside from the Toyama Ryu, our system of Battodo has in recent years incorporated elements of two other schools of swordsmanship. The Kumitachi has been influenced by the Shinkage Ryu (Yagyu Ryu), a medieval school of kenjutsu rooted in the Samurai warrior tradition. Our Tameshigiri includes elements of the Ioriken Battojutsu.
It is important to mention that two other teachers aside from Nakamura Sensei carried the Toyama Ryu line forward, named Yamaguchi Yuuki Sensei and Morinaga Kiyoshi Sensei. Also over the years Nakamura Sensei made many changes to the system, while teaching thousands of students. Therefore there are many different versions of Toyama Ryu being practiced now. At different times they call themselves Toyama Ryu Battojutsu, Toyama Ryu Battodo, Gunto Soho, Toyama Ryu Iaido and Nakamura Ryu, but are all related to the original military system.