The Classical Martial Traditions of Japan

The Guide to Classical Japanese Martial Arts

This "Ryu Guide" is the place to start when investigating a classical Japanese martial ryu. Each category includes a list of the schools that we cover (thus far) at Schools are listed in more than one category when appropriate (i.e. Tenshin Buko-ryu will be listed both under naginatajutsu and kusarigamajutsu). Each ryu listing contains basic information on the tradition, including the founder, date founded, and systems taught, as well as references to photographs and articles here at, relevant books, and links to appropriate web sites. We will continue to add new material to this list from our archives and research.

All listed ryu-ha have one thing in common--they are authentic Japanese warrior traditions. Virtually all are members of the Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai (Society for the Promotion of the Japanese Classical Martial Arts) or the Nihon Kobudo Kyokai (Japanese Classical Martial Arts Association), the two most respected and well-established organizations devoted to koryu in Japan. All are included in the standard Japanese reference sources. Please keep in mind, however, that this list is by no means comprehensive. Many of the hundreds of extant classical traditions are not yet listed, so the fact that a school's name does not appear means relatively little. Those that are listed, we can and do "vouch for."

Ryuha list by name
Ryuha list by ryu type
General Resources

Ryuha list by name


Ryuha by Type

Battojutsu & Iaijutsu
techniques of sword-drawing; sword-drawing art
Bojutsu & Jojutsu
techniques of staff & stick; staff or stick art
Jujutsu & Kogusoku
techniques of flexibility; grappling art
techniques of the sword; swordsmanship
techniques of the glaive; glaive art
Other weapons of the bushi
chain-and-sickle, truncheon, etc
techniques of the spear; spear art

General Resources

Web Site  "Donn F. Draeger: The Life and Times of An American Martial Arts Pioneer"
by Paul Nurse
Article  "Frequently Asked Questions"
by Diane Skoss
Article  "Introduction to Field Guide to the Classical Japanese Martial Arts"
by Diane Skoss
Book  Keiko Shokon
edited by Diane Skoss
Book  Koryu Bujutsu
edited by Diane Skoss
Article  "The Koryu Primer"
by Diane Skoss
Web Site  Meiji Jingu Hono Embukai
Photos taken by Daniel Lee at the 2001 event
Book  Old School
by Ellis Amdur
Article  "Real or Fake?"
by Wayne Muromoto
Book  Sword & Spirit
edited by Diane Skoss
Book  Traditions
by Dave Lowry
Article  "What is a Ryu?"
by Wayne Muromoto
Article  "The Whole Legitimacy Thing"
by Karl Friday
Legend [back]
Article  Article at
Book  Book review at
Picture  Photograph at
Video  Link to video
Link  Link to other web site

Classical Japanese Martial Arts
Last modified on May 2, 2022
URL: /guide/ryuguide.html
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Classical Japanese Martial Arts