Historical Development of Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu


Shinra Saburo Minamoto no Yoshimitsu
     DAITO RYU is believed to have originated within the family of Emperor Seiwa (reigned A.D. 858-876) and to have been greatly developed by one of the emperor's descendants, Shinra Saburo Minamoto no Yoshimitsu, in the eleventh century. Through his careful study of human anatomy, he made a point of visiting battlefields and execution grounds to examine and dissect the bodies of dead and executed criminals. Through the dissection of the bodies, Yoshimitsu was able to determine which were the most effective strikes, blows, holds, joint locks, and pins.

     To appreciate the mysteries of Aiki, or harmonized energy, Yoshimitsu spent hours observing a female spider trapping prey in her web. In addition, he was a talented musician, and while accompanying dancers on his sho (a type of wind instrument), he gained insight into the nature of good rhythm and smooth transition between movements of Aiki. Yoshimitsu incorporated all of this knowledge into the martial art he had been taught by family members and in turn passed on this improved and expanded system to his sons which came to be known as the "Daito Ryu," after the name of one of his residences (castles).

     Yoshikiyo, his eldest son, settled in the village of Takeda in Koma ( present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) and founded the Takeda branch of the Minamoto clan. The Daito Ryu tradition of Yoshimitsu was subsequently handed down in complete secrecy to successive generations of the Takeda family. Near the end of the sixteenth century, the family, led by Kunitsugu Takeda, shifted its main base to the Aizu district (present-day Fukushima Prefecture). There, the martial art system became known as o-shiki-uchi, or "the palace art," and alternatively as an o-tome-bujutsu, or "inside-the-clan martial art"; both these terms are thought to suggest the great secrecy with which the Daito Ryu techniques were guarded. The art was secretly transmitted to the samurai of the Aizu domain until the fall of the Shogunate in 1868.

     It was not until the nineteenth century when martial art genius Sokaku Takeda began to teach the Daito Ryu to the public-that the art became widely known. Sokaku was born in 1860 in Aizu, where he received instruction in the traditional o-shiki-uchi arts of the Aizu clan from his relatives and from Tanomo Saigo (1830-1903), the last minister of the Aizu domain. Sokaku is considered the thirty-fifth Grand Master of the Daito Ryu tradition stemming from Kunitsugu Takeda.

     In addition to the Daito Ryu system, Sokaku studied many other martial arts and acquired firsthand combat experience in street fights all over the country. Around the turn of the century, Sokaku began teaching the Daito Ryu system-which by then included some new elements that he himself had incorporated to select groups of military officers, police officials, and aristocrats. Sokaku was based in remote northern Japan but made occasional forays to Tokyo and western Japan. In the course of his travels, Sokaku defeated all challengers. It is said that thirty thousand martial artists received instruction at Sokaku's hands. Of this vast number, only twenty or so received formal teaching licenses from the Daito Ryu Grand Master. Several of Sokaku's students themselves became extremely distinguished teachers.

     We do recognize the fact that Sokaku Takeda did not teach each student in the same way, nor was the way of performing the techniques identical in each line of Daito Ryu. It is speculated that Sokaku taught each student according to their individual learning styles, and varying needs of each learner. He changed methods and techniques at will and each change has developed into a particular trademark for each style of Daito Ryu. Those styles being Takumakai from Hisa Takuma, or Kodo Kai from Kodo Horikawa, or the techniques of Yukiyoshi Sagawa, as well as Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido.


Tanomo Saigo


Sokaku Takeda

     Daito Ryu is the father of many Japanese martial arts. Stanley Pranin, Chief Editor of Aikido Journal, a high-ranking Aikidoka, and author of several texts, states "categorically the major influence on the development of Aikido is Daito Ryu, and it is difficult to find a movement in Aikido that does not originate in Takeda's jujutsu form."

HORIKAWA, KODO and Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodo Kai, April 10, 1894-October 30, 1980


Kodo Horikawa
Born in Kitami, Hokkaido, Japan.

Began Daito Ryu Jujutsu training on May 12, 1914.

Received permission to become a Shihan at age 37

In September 1950 he established the Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodo Kai.

     Kodo Horikawa began training first under his father, then later, when his progress became noticeable, he trained directly under Master Takeda. Sokaku Takeda taught Kodo over a period of many years, according to his body-type. Kodo was a short man 4'11". Sokaku specifically told him that he needed to master "Aiki" because of his short stature. He instructed him in mostly the Aiki principles. His techniques came to be known as very subtle, effective, and strong. Thus, it is said that Horikawa's Kodo Kai emphasizes Aiki over strength to execute the higher-level techniques.

     In 1930 he received from Master Sokaku the certificate of "The acting instructor" or "Dairi Kyoju", and still continued his training for six hours a day. One year later, Kodo Horikawa received the certificate of Hiden Mokuroku "The Secret Essence", and a month later he received the final certificates of Hiden Okugi Mokuroku "The Secret Essence of Mysteries", and the Hiden Aiki Okugi Mokuroku "The Secret Essence of Aiki". The final certificate, the Daito Ryu no Menkyo Kaiden was awarded to him years later. In 1950 he established the Daito-Ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodo Kai in Hokkaido. In 1974 Kodo Horikawa received the Eisei Meijin "Order of Eternal Mastership", which is the highest title of the Budo society. Kodo Horikawa perished in 1980.


Direct Lineage - Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodo Kai

Sokaku Takeda (Japan)

Kodo Horikawa (Japan)

Yusuke Inoue Shihan (Japan)

Hayawo Kiyama Shihan
Chief Instructor North American Headquarters (California)

Roy Goldberg Sensei
East Coast Representative (Connecticut and Manhattan, NY)


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