Kashima Shinden Jiki Shinkage-ryu Heiho (鹿島神傳直心影流 兵 法) is one of the most powerful forms of Japanese swordsmanship. It places emphasis on posture, breathing, focusing the mind and spirit (kiai), and developing a powerful cutting ability. It has a very austere character, with kata that are very strenuous to perform and develop a hard form of internal power.
Jiki Shinkage-ryu regards itself as the "true" Shinkage-ryu. Its fourth headmaster, Ogasawara Genshinsai Minamoto no Nagaharu (小笠原源信斎源長冶, 1574–1644), spent 20 years in Beijing in the early 17th century, practicing Chinese martial arts, including the large and heavy kwan dao. Its 14th headmaster, Sakakibara Kenkichi (榊原鍵吉, 1830–1894), was bodyguard to the Shogun and keeper of Edo castle. Jiki Shinkage-ryu contains a profound training regimen focused around the development of kiai (気合), which can be regarded as the active complement of aiki (合気).
Jiki Shinkage-ryu: Habiki
Mark Raugas holds a chuden menjo from Dr. David Hall, who studied in Tokyo under Namiki Yasushi, 18th generation headmaster of Jiki Shinkage-ryu. More information on the curriculum of and training opportunities in Kashima-shinden Jiki Shinkage-ryu heiho can be found at jikishinkageryu.org.
In 2006, I was introduced by Bob Galeone to teachers of Katori Shinto-ryu at Capital Aikikai. I trained actively in Sugawara Budo from 2006 to 2014, receiving a mokuroku license. While my primary focus is Jiki Shinkage-ryu, I remain interested in what the differences were between classical Japanese martial arts influenced by Kashima shrine as compared to the arts preserved from Katori. I practiced TSKSR and Jiki Shinkage-ryu concurrently for a time, and my experience in Shinto-ryu I felt at times benefited my understanding of Jiki, which over time has been condensed and purified to the point where some of its teachings are well hidden.
It was, however, very difficult to maintain a practice two separate, overlapping koryu, and do both justice. Ellis Amdur writes extensively about this in his essays. I realized that over time I was viewing kenjutsu more and more through the lens of Jiki Shinkage-ryu. In late 2014, I decided to focus my efforts in Japanese swordsmanship on the Jiki Shinkage-ryu curriculum taught at the Hobyokan, as I felt it was more compatible with my training in internal martial arts.
I moved to Seattle in 2016 and maintain a solo practice of Katori Shinto-ryu kata informed by my study of internal martial arts and my study of surviving lines of Shinkage-ryu. I view this practice as a form of spiritual training (shugendo) and have adopted a different name for it, to distinguish it from orthodox approaches to Shinto-ryu. I call this practice Gassan-ryu shinjutsu in honor of the place that set me on my current martial path. Gassan-ryu is also the name of a now extinct ryu of naginata and iai, derived from Shinto-ryu. Shinjutsu ("spirit art") is an older name used in Shinto-ryu to refer to its sword arts. For me, it helps distinguish the practice from the heiho/kenjutsu I concentrate on in Jiki Shinkage-ryu.
Because Shinkage-ryu is derived from Shinto-ryu kenjutsu, my background in Katori Shinto-ryu has been useful in understanding some of the rationale behind the tactics of the former tradition. I have also benefited from viewing Jiki Shinkage-ryu through the lens of the older (koden) kata of one of its sister arts, Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, preserved at the Hobyokan. What is explicit in Jiki is often hidden in Yagyu, and vice versa.