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Traditions of Katori Shinto Ryu

Traditionally, every pupil that entered the
Katori Shinto Ryu had to make the following blood oath (keppan):
  1. When I become a member of the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, which has been handed down by the Great Deity of the Katori Shrine,
    I therewith affirm my pledge of absolute secrecy about matters of this ryu.

  2. I will not have the impertinence to discuss or demonstrate my martial technique to non-members.

  3. I will never engage in any kind of gambling nor frequent disre-putable places.

  4. I will not cross swords with any followers of other martial traditions without a certificate of full proficiency in my art.

I will now pledge to firmly keep each of the above articles. Should I break any of these articles I will submit to the punishment of the Buddhist deity Marishiten. Herewith I solemnly swear and affix my blood seal to this oath to the Great Deity.

Bujin MarishitenMarishiten is originally the Brahman figure of Krishna. In later Chinese Buddhist mythology she became the heavenly queen who lives in one of the stars of the Great Bear. She is mostly depicted with eight arms, two of which are the symbols of sun and moon.


(Image by courtesy of Paghat the Ratgirl)

sepiaIt is the disciples of the Katori Shinto Ryu not allowed to engage in arbitrary contest, not even in friendly contest. The drawing of a sword is considered a grave matter, decisive of life and death. The sword may never be drawn rashly. Even when the blade is only drawn one centimeter from the scabbard this is considered an invitati-on to a duel. A friendly contest is called in Japanese shiai. In Katori Shinto philosophy this is synonymous to shi ni ai, fight till death. As a consequence of this there is traditionally no dan-grading in the Katori Shinto Ryu as in Kendo or Judo, because these grades are obtained in competition. This competition is possible because of the limitations on the fighting techniques in modern sports, aiming at prevention of bodily harm.

sepia                             Shidosha                _Teaching License_
                            Erik Louw


In the Katori Shinto Ryu a discipel could traditionally receive a certificate of appreciation (mokuroku) after generally fifteen years of intensive training.
(Much later, on achieving a certain level of proficiency, he could also receive a menkyo (teaching license). The highest degree is the gokui kaidenmaster of the seret techniques). Only a few individuals will achieve this.

 

Text: Willem Bekink
Translation: Stephen Snelders

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