The Birth of Takeda Ryu Nakamura Ha

In the twentieth century, Takeda Budo was influenced by an outstanding individual,· Nakamura Hisashi. He was born in Shinshu in 1932 and moved to northern Kyushu in 1949 to live with his aunt. He soon learned that there was a dojo for Takeda Budo on Yagura Mountain. It was the school run by Oba Ichio, the soke of the forty-third generation of the school. In spring 1950, Nakamura became a student in Oba’s dojo, one of only a few people training there at that time. After three years (in 1953) Nakamura became an uchi-deshi (in-house student) and lived with Oba’s family, but Oba soon moved to Tokyo, where he founded the Seibuden dojo as the new headquarters of the Takeda School and of the Nippon Budo Renmei, his association for the revival of budo. The young Nakamura was not called to Tokyo until 1956 when master Morimoto, Oba’s deputy, had to return home due to family obligations, and thus Nakamura assumed his position as Oba’s assistant.

After the early and unexpected death of Oba soke in 1959 without a successor having been named, the transmission of the teachings would have ended abruptly if there had not been the young Nakamura to continue. There was Oba’s son, and there was his nephew, but both weren’t interested in preserving the tradition. As there was generally not much interest in practicing traditional martial arts in Japan in those days, it was difficult to make a living from teaching budo anyway. The Seibuden dojo in Tokyo had to be closed, but in 1960, Nakamura, at the age of twenty-eight and lacking any other education, decided to become a budo professional and began to teach Aikido in Tokyo. He realized that he could only survive if a larger number of people had access to the school’s teachings. So he knew he had to teach Takeda Budo on a widespread basis. Thus began ten very difficult but finally fruitful years, in which several dojos and clubs were established as well as the Budokai, an independent organization that was renamed into Nihon Sobudo Rengokai (NSR) in 1970. It still exists under this name today and has its headquarters, the Honbu Sobukan, in Tokyo.

In spite of his success teaching Takeda Budo, Nakamura was never officially acknowledged as the school’s heir by the Oba family. Others also laid claim to the school’s leadership, including Sato Kinbei who died in 1999 and in fact had been a member of Oba’s dojo long before Nakamura, but none of them could ever present an adequate document from the Oba family. As a result, the transmission of Takeda Ryu in a direct line ended with Oba Ichio in 1959.

With this matter remaining unsettled, Nakamura eventually named his school Takeda Ryu Nakamura Ha (Nakamura branch of the Takeda style) in 1978. While his work focused on renewing the school and spreading its teachings in Japan in the seventies, the late eighties saw the establishment of the school outside Japan. Today Nakamura’s organization in Japan (Nihon Sobudo Rengokai) is comparatively small. However, as a preserver and innovator of Takeda Budo, Nakamura has secured his place in the history of budo, the tradition of which is part of Japan’s cultural heritage.