HAYASHI-HA KENSHIN-RYU KOBUDO (TRADITIONAL OKINAWAN WEAPONRY)
We also teach Kobudo (traditional Okinawan weaponry). The primary style we teach is Hayashi-Ha Kenshin-ryu Kobudo, developed by Teruo Hayashi on the basis of the training he received from several weapons masters in mainland Japan, and Okinawa. The following is a brief history of the origin of this style:
The Birth of Hayashi-Ha Kenshin-Ryu Okinawa Kobudo
Luis E. Gonzalez
21 June 2005
After studying under different karate masters in Japan proper (including Kenwa Mabuni, Kosei Kuniba, and Seiko Higa), Teruo Hayashi decided to travel to Okinawa to get more depth in his knowledge and training. He would go to Okinawa often and trained with several masters (Chojin Nagamine, Hohan Soken, Taira Shinken, Chosin Chibana, and Master Naga). His initial interest was in the area of kumite, which he pursued and then excelled in. Then he wanted to become good in kata. So he pursued his kata training until he was satisfied. He then pursued kobudo. He soon realized that the karate masters he trained with only knew a few weapons and that none of them knew all the Okinawan weapons. So he set out to find a master that knew them all.
In the early '60s, Hayashi learned that a certain master, Kenko Nakaima, knew all the Okinawan weapons, so he proceeded to introduce himself to Nakaima sensei and ask him if he would accept him as his student. Nakaima refused, stating that his was a family system that his great grandfather had learned in Southern China and brought back to Okinawa, and had been kept in the family. This system of Ryu-Ei-Ryu, consisted of both open-hand and kobudo, and was not taught to outsiders. It was only taught to a chosen son from each generation. Hayashi then begged him again, but Nakaima again refused. Hayashi begged Nakaima for months and still the answer was always "No!" Hayashi was not one to give up easily. He had tenacious determination. He decided he had to do everything possible to get accepted. Failure was not an option.
Nakaima, besides being a karate and kobudo master, was an elementary school teacher, and every morning he would leave his house to go teach at school. His wife would leave with him to go to the market and get the day's food as is custom in Okinawa. In the afternoon, Nakaima sensei would return from work. Well, Hayashi started to run low on money and could not afford to stay in an inn any longer after begging Nakaima for months. So one morning, after he was again refused by Nakaima as he was leaving to work with his wife besides him, he bought a one-man tent and some bread to eat. He pitched the tent on Nakaima's front yard! When Nakaima returned from work in the afternoon he was surprised to see Hayashi's tent, but refused him again. That night, Hayashi was practically eaten alive by the Okinawan mosquitos. In the morning, when Nakaima and his wife were leaving the house, Hayashi again begged to be accepted as Nakaima's student. Hayashi had welts all over his face, arms, and body from the mosquito bites, but again he was refused. The master and his wife left him feeling dejected. Hayashi though, would not give up. He went and bought some mosquito coils to repel the mosquitos and some more bread. He was literally down to eating only bread and drinking only water. When Nakaima returned from work again, Hayashi begged him again, and again he was refused.
The coils Hayashi lit all around him helped some, but there were so many mosquitos that it was impossible to repel them all. He still got bitten. In the morning, Hayashi again begged Nakaima to teach him, but again, the answer was still "no". Nakaima sensei and his wife left, but as they were leaving Hayashi overheard Nakaima's wife telling her husband, "You have go to do something about that man. Look at him. He's weak from not eating well, and look at all the mosquito bites on his body!"
Hayashi was left feeling terrible. He went to a high, steep, rocky cliff and sat at the edge. He was feeling so dejected, such a failure, that he contemplated jumping down to the jagged rocks below and committing suicide because he had never before failed at what he had set his mind to do. Fortunately however, he decided he was going to give it one more try.
When Nakaima returned from work that afternoon, Hayashi again begged him to please teach him. This time, after apparently considering Hayashi's strong spirit and his wife's plea, Nakaima seemingly relented. "Okay, I'm going to teach you a bo kata right now. I want you to practice it for one year and then come back so I can take a look at it. We'll see how you do." Hayashi was elated! He had finally succeeded- so he thought. So Nakaima sensei taught Hayashi the bo kata. Hayashi goes back to Japan and practices it fervently and religiously and then returned excitedly to Okinawa. He knocks at Nakaima's front door. Nakaima answers, "Yes, who are you, what do you want?" "I'm Hayashi. You taught me a bo kata and told me to come back in one year to show my progress to you." "Oh yes," Nakaima answered, "Please let me see your kata right now, here." "Now? Here?" Hayashi asked. "Yes, now, here in the front yard" was the response. As he recalls, Hayashi proceeded to demonstrate the bo kata Nakaima had taught him a year before that, with as much focus, speed, power, and spirit that he could muster, even though there were cars passing nearby. When he was finished, Nakaima said, "Very good! But that really wasn't a kata. I just made it up, but you have proven yourself worthy to be taught my system. From now on, I will accept you as my student, even though you are not family, I will teach you Ryu-Ei-Ryu". Hayashi was stunned by the fact that the kata he practiced so diligently for a whole year was not a real kata after all, but elated that he had finally broken into the family system. He was the first to do so! This was circa 1966.
The Ryu-Ei-Ryu system consists of both karatedo (Chinese kata) and kobudo material. Nakaima proceeded to teach Hayashi his system.
I was there in Japan as a black belt student of Hayashi in 1971, when he with the permission of the Japanese government, and the All Japan Karatedo Federation, established his two styles: Hayashi-Ha Shito-Ryu Japanese Karatedo, and Hayashi-Ha Kenshin-Ryu Okinawa Kobudo. He took the first part of Nakaima's first name (Ken, from Kenko) and Shin (meaning "heart") and formed "Kenshin-Ryu" or, "The Style of the Heart of Kenko", his sensei. And thus, Kenshin-Ryu was born.
This rich Kenshin-Ryu kobudo system consists of twelve (12) weapons; 6 basic, and 6 advanced.
Basic weapons are: Bo, Sai, Tonfa, Nunchaku, Kama, and Tembe
Advanced weapons are: Tatami tembe, Furigama, Suruchin, Gekigan, Dajo, and Ren.
It is very important for one to know and understand the history behind Kenshin-Ryu. I believe that because of what Hayashi sensei had to do in order to learn from Nakaima, because of the ordeal and great sacrifice he went through in becoming the first to break into the Ryu-Ei-Ryu family system, that he was extremely conservative and reluctant to teach this style freely. As a result, a complete listing of all the kata from each weapon is not available, at least not outside of Japan. He does have kobudo masters of his in Japan that he imparted much knowledge to, but it is not known yet if any one master has all the material from this style.
Therefore, the following is an incomplete list of the known kata to date for some, but not all weapons: (I personally asked Soke Hayashi one time how many kata there were in Kenshin-Ryu. His reply was," twenty bo kata, and 15 sai kata". He then grinned as if to say, "Are those plenty enough for you?", and with that, he elusively changed the subject to something else.)
Article by Shihan Luis Gonzalez 7th Dan