Shintō Musō-ryū (神道夢想流) is a traditional school (Koryū) of the Japanese martial art of jōjutsu, or the art of wielding the short staff (jō). It is a 400 year old Japanese tradition which develops skills in both the sword and staff with the aim of using the staff to defeat a swordsman in combat. There is an emphasis on proper combative distance, timing and concentration.
The art was founded by the samurai Musō Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi (夢想 權之助 勝吉, c.1605,) in the early Edo period (1603–1868). He supposedly used these techniques successfully in a duel with Miyamoto Musashi. Gonnosuke is believed to have used his training in kenjutsu, naginatajutsu, sōjutsu and bōjutsu, which he acquired in part from Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū and Kashima Jikishinkage-ryū, to develop a new way of utilising the jō in combat.
The original art created by Musō Gonnosuke has evolved and been added to from its inception until modern times, but is still considered a Koryū art. The art was successfully brought outside of its original domain in Fukuoka and outside of Japan itself in the 19th and 20th century. The spreading of Shintō Musō-ryū (SMR) beyond Japan was largely the effort of Shimizu Takaji, considered the 25th headmaster of the Shintō Musō Ryū lineage.
Here are some of the Shintō Musō Ryū Jō kata (sequences) as practiced at the Sunshine Coast Dojo:
Upon the death of Shimizu Takaji in 1978, one of his senior students Nishioka Tsuneo founded the SMR jō group Sei Ryu Kai (清隆会). Nishioka Sensei continued Shimizu Sensei’s dream of spreading the wonderful art of SMR around the world until his death in February 2014. He taught primarily in Tokyo.
The SMR system also includes the teaching of other weapon systems: tanjo (short staff), jutte (truncheon) and kusarigama (sickle with chain). Also at the core of SMR is the sword school of Kasumi Shintō Ryū Kenjutsu. Below is a demonstration of some of the kenjutsu kata (sequences) from 2017: