About Our Dojo
A Brief History of Toyama Ryu
What is Toyama Ryu? Toyama was an area of Tokyo where they had a military academy. They taught music, army ways, and later on swordsmanship. When the Japanese invaded Manchuria and used Iai do Kenjutsu and kendo to fight with the Chinese swordsmen, they lost. Why? because the Japanese arts at the time were not adequate or quick enough to match what they were up against. However upon returning home the art was reformed and forged to be effective, quick, and deadly. The Toyama officers, including but not limited to Nakamura, insured that any sword swing made a cut that took off a body part or limb. Thus.. a cutting art that actually cut.
“What we teach.” Besides martial virtue, which is a chapter on it’s own, we practice 2 Japanese Sword Arts. The main one is Toyama Ryu Iai Do. This is a sword style developed after the Maiji Restoration but tweaked during the Manchurian invasion by the Japanese Army in the 1930’s. Gruesome for sure but maybe the only authentically practiced battle field martial art of modern times. Developed manly by 3 Iai Do masters at the Japanese Army training center in a section of Tokyo named Toyama, hence the name, The organizers of Toyama (later determined to be a ryu) practiced after WW2 in their own manner. The version we have undertaken came through Nakamura Taizaburo, who promoted the style to the general public. Our Sensei, Hataya Yoshitoki, learned from one of Nakamura’s students, Tetsundo, who popularized and founded Canbarra. We pratice 6 cutting kata, 8 Toyama Ryu chu den kata as well as some Ko Ryu Wakizashi kata. Our main emphasis is on whether the techniques work. Since it is not wise to sword fight, the next best thing is to do tameshigiri, cutting a target with a sharp sword. There are mustiple cutting patterns practiced in Toyama Ryu and even more done in Seizankai, which is Hataya Sensei’s personal Iai organiztion. Feeling that Toyama Ryu had turned into a sport, with easy promotions, Hataya Sensei made his own standards for dan rank by making cutting patterns more exact and adding some very difficut ones. In our US Hombu dojo in Orlando Fl, as well as the branch schools we have in the US, ascribe to these strict standards on training (renshu). We import our own cutting material from Japan, at great expense, so as to maintain the precise standards as practiced in Machida Japan, where the main dojo is located. Our dojo in Orlando maintains the strict training methods as racticed in Japan. Please Visit our classes page for further information!
Bob Elder began dealing in Japanese swords around 1979 and amoung those from whom he sold swords to was Hataya Mitsuo at a Houston sword . At this show a friend happened to mention to Elder Sensei that Hataya Sensei was not only a dealer but a master swordsman. He invited Sensei Hataya to Orlando the following year prior to the Tampa sword show and he accepted. Thus began the earnest Bob Elder’s study of practical Japanese swordsmanship and particularly that of Toyama Ryu Battodo. Bob Elder is currently a Godan in Toyama ryu batto do. He has successfully organized and hosted 10 years of cutting Taikai in Orlando for a steadily group of growing swordsman of a variety of arts from around the nation.