Obata Toshishiro is the founder and Grand Master of Shinkendo Japanese swordsmanship. “Shin (True) – Ken (Sword) – Do (Way)” is a system of Japanese swordsmanship which incorporates all aspects of sword study: Suburi (swinging methods), Battoho (drawing methods), Tanren Kata (solo forms), Tachiuchi (sparring) and Tameshigiri (test-cutting).
Of Samurai family lineage, Obata Toshishiro was born in Japan in 1948. Mr. Obata is a descendant of Obata Masamori, who served as a general and strategist (one of the famous 24 strategists) for the Takeda family during the cival war, Sengoku Era. Masamori would become the lord of Kaizu Jo (castle) in Shin Shu (Nagano) province.
Obata Masamori’s son, Obata Kagenori (1570-1644), became a page and companion to Japans second Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Hidetada. During this time in Kagenori’s youth, he would study Kenjutsu and general scholarship with Hidetada. Kagenori later completed the famous “Takeda-ryu Koyo Gunkan-sho”. This work was the foundation of the “Heiho Okugi-sho”, a secret book of strategy. During his lifetime, Obata Kagenori became known as the father of “Koshu-ryu Gungaku”, also referred to as “Takeda-ryu”.
Obata Toshishiro had been enamored with swordsmanship from a very young age and in 1966, the 18 year old Obata set out to Tokyo to become a professional martial artist. Upon visiting the Yoshinkan dojo, he witnessed a demonstration by Honbu Shihan and became fascinated with Aikido. Soon after, he was accepted as an uchideshi (literally, “house student,” or live-in apprentice) under the late Master Shioda Gozo, and remained as such, teaching at Yoshinkan Honbu as well as universities, the Metropolitan Riot Police and the Japanese Self Defense Army for 7 years.
Looking to expand on the sword work taught in aikido training, the young Obata cross-trained in several other disciplines, including Yagyu Shinkage Ryu swordsmanship under the twenty-first generation Yagyu Nobuharu-soke, and the study of Zen with the members of the Shiyukai. However, as an uchideshi, he was not able to pursue other arts seriously, and as a result left the Yoshinkan in 1973.
In 1980, Obata came to the USA after being entrusted with the title of Chief Instructor for North America of Toyama Ryu and Nakamura Ryu Battodo by Master Nakamura Taizaburo, as well as Chief Instructor and Founder of the USA Battodo Federation by the All Japan Battodo Federation.
After about ten years of teaching Battodo, Obata-sensei redirected his efforts into developing the fundamentals of his own stylized sword art, Shinkendo, a system based upon his experience, knowledge and historical research. In 1996, he also founded the Aikibujutsu Tanren Kenkyukai, a research and practice organization of bujutsu/ budo ranging from the earliest forms of Aikijutsu to modern Aikido. Taihojutsu (control and arresting techniques) is also part of the curriculum, and is an area tailored for use in the law enforcement and security fields.
Obata Toshishiro-Kaiso is one of the most well-rounded and authentic martial artists in the field today. He is the Founder and Kaicho of the Aikibujutsu Tanren Kenkyukai, Founder and Chief Instructor of the Kokusai Toyama Ryu Renmei, and the Founder and Chief Instructor of the International Shinkendo Federation.
For 7 consecutive years Obata-kaiso was the All Japan Battodo Champion, Ioriken Battojutsu Champion for 5 years and Toyama Ryu All Japan Champion for 2 years. Some of Obata-Kaiso’s ranks include Menkyo Kaiden, Keisho Denju, Shihan, various certifications and a combined total of 75 dan rankings.
Sensei Clint Miller earned his black belt in Shinkendo directly from Grand Master Obata. He has been training under Obata Sensei since 2005.
For more information about Obata-Kaiso or Shinkendo, please visit the website at www.shinkendo.com