Shinto Muso-ryu  descends from a 400+ year lineage of teacher/student relationships, mainly in the Kuroda-han, which was in Fukuoka, Kyushu (southern Japan). This martial art was passed down among a relatively small group of people until the time of Shiraishi Hanjiro (1842 - 1927). Shiraishi was responsible for the preservation and re-integration of the Jigyo and Haruyoshi lines of Shinto Muso-ryu at the end of the Tokugawa period (1603 - 1868), and into the Meiji Restoration.  

The Meiji era (1868 - 1912) created an opportunity to teach Shinto Muso-ryu outside of its traditional domain in Kyushu, and beyond the samurai class. One of Shiraishi's principal students, Shimizu Takaji (1899 - 1978) was primarily responsible for spreading this martial art to the rest of Japan, and ultimately around the world. 

After Judo founder Kano Jigoro saw a demonstration of Shinto Muso-ryu Jo, he asked that it be taught in the Tokyo area. Shimizu Takaji was selected to provide this instruction, both at the Kodokan Judo headquarters, and also eventually to the Tokyo Metropolitan Riot Police.  From this beginning Shimizu Takaji's group of students grew beyond the police, and into the civilian population. With both Japanese and foreign students. 

One of Shimizu Takaji's students was Nishioka Tsuneo (1924 - 2014). He began studying with Shimizu Takaji at age 14, in 1938, and remained a student until Shimizu's passing in 1978.  Nishioka Tsuneo was instrumental in reviving many of the pre-World War II training concepts and practices, especially the importance of competent swordsmanship within Shinto Muso-ryu.

Here in the United States, Phil Relnick, menkyo kaiden, leads our group in the study of Shinto Muso-ryu. Relnick sensei spent over 40 years living and working in Japan after serving in the US Air Force. He is a graduate of Waseda University, and earned his Masters of Asian Studies from the University of Michigan. Relnick sensei worked for several large Japanese companies before starting his own business consulting practice in Tokyo. During this time his primary martial arts studies included Kodokan Judo, Shinto Muso-ryu Jo, and Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto Ryu. 

When Relnick sensei returned to Japan in 1962 he reached out to Donn Draeger sensei for assistance. Draeger sensei was already a student of Shimizu Takaji sensei , introducing Relnick to Shimizu Takaji sensei in 1962. At that time Relnick sensei began Shinto Muso-ryu Jo under Shimizu Takaji sensei at the Tomisaka Police Dojo, and later the Tokyo Rembukan Dojo. And continued this training until Shimizu Takaji sensei's passing in 1978.

After this time Relnick sensei continued to study Shinto Muso-ryu with Nishioka Tsuneo sensei, who was Shimizu Takaji sensei's oldest student at that time.  

Relnick sensei is a also Menkyo in Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto Ryu, and a direct student of Otake Risuke. Today he teaches Shinto Muso-ryu and Katori Shinto-ryu at his Shintokan Dojo in Woodinville, Washington.


Shiraishi Hanjiro Sensei (1842 - 1927)

Kano Jigoro present at a Shinto Muso-ryu demonstration. Young Shimizu Takaji - front row/far left.

Shimizu Takaji Sensei (1896 - 1978)

Nishioka Tsuneo Sensei (1924 - 2014)

Tokyo Rembukan Dojo

back L-R: Phil Relnick, Quintin Chambers, Chic Eather, Kobayashi S.
front L-R: Don Draeger, Shimizu Takaji Sensei, Martyn Gravenstein, Nobuko Relnick

Lineage (abridged) of Shinto Muso-ryu Jo tradition - Founded early 1600s

  (1). Iizasa Choisai Ienao (1387–1488) Founder of Katori Shintō-ryū.

(2). Matsumoto Bizen-no-kami Masanobu (1467–1524) 

1. Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi - Traditional founder of "True Path" 真道 (Shinto) Muso-ryu. 

2. Obito Mogozaemon Yoshishige 

3. Matsuzaki Kin'emon Shigekatsu 

4. Higuchi Han'emon Katsunobu - The last headmaster of a unified Shinto Muso-ryu. 

During this time (roughly from the 4th headmaster to 24th headmaster) the school branched into several but similar lines of Jojutsu, all within the Kuroda domain. These branches included the 'New Just', 'True Path', Jigyo, and Haruyoshi.

"Way of the Gods" 神道 (Shinto) Muso-ryu - formed during the late 19th century and continues to present times. Mainly with the Jigyo and Haruyoshi branches joined into a single ryu under Shiraishi Hanjiro.

24. Shiraishi Hanjiro Shigeaki (1842–1927) - A warrior of lower rank, Shiraishi was an exponent of both the "Haruyoshi" and "Jigyo" traditions. After the fall of the Tokugawa and the Feudal-system, Shiraishi was issued a joint-license of the largest two surviving branches of the Kuroda-jō, the "Haruyoshi" and "Jigyo"-branches. The result of the merge is a new single tradition that was named "Way of the Gods" 神道 (Shinto) Muso-ryu, with Shiraishi becoming its sole leader by the early 1900s.

Shiraishi Hanjiro [1]

25. Shimzu Takaji (1896–1978) - A student of Shiraishi Hanjiro. Shimizu is sometimes referred to as the 25th headmaster of Shintō Musō-ryū. Responsible for bringing Shinto Muso-ryu out of Kyushu and to a wider audience in Japan, and eventually around the world.

Shimizu Takaji [3]

Nishioka Tsuneo (1924-2014) - Began training at the age of 14 in 1938 with Shimizu Takaji sensei and studied with him until his passing in 1978. 


Phil Relnick (b. 1938) - a student of  Shimizu Takaji sensei, and later Nishioka Tsuneo sensei. Relnick began studying jo in 1962 at the Tomisaka Police Dojo and Tokyo Rembukan Dojo under Shimizu Takaji. He continued his Jo training under Nishioka Tsuneo sensei after Shimizu sensei's passing in 1978. Today he teaches Shinto Muso-ryu Jo and Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto-ryu at his Shintokan Dojo in Washtington state.


1. Matsui, Kenji. 1993. The History of Shindo Muso Ryu Jojutsu, translated by Hunter Armstrong (Kamuela, HI: International Hoplological Society)
2. Krieger, Pascal – Jodô – la voie du bâton / The way of the stick (bilingual French/English), Geneva (CH) 1989, ISBN 2-9503214-0-2

3. Asakichi Nakajima & Tsunemori Kaminoda. Jodo Kyohan. Japan Publications Inc. 1976, ISBN4-8170-6415-3 C0075