Originally published in Kendo World magazine vol. 6.4, 2013.
In the previous issue of Kendo World, we introduced the Naginatadō Kihon Dōsa, teaching guidelines featuring a set of five generic kata that were published at the beginning of 1941 by the Dai Nippon Butokukai in order to promote a unified form of naginata in schools. We saw that this initiative somehow failed because of the antagonism between the two major naginata ryūha: the Jikishin Kage-ryū and the Tendō-ryū. Exponents of the Tendō-ryū tradition considered the Naginatadō Kihon Dōsa to be a simplification of the Jikishin Kage-ryū style rather than a unification of different traditions, and thus refused to follow the new guidelines. As a result, the intended unification of naginata did not occur, and the situation in schools remained unchanged: children instructed by a Jikishin Kage-ryū instructor learned the Butokukai’s Naginatadō Kihon Dōsa, while classes with a Tendō-ryū instructor endeavored to practise the kata of that tradition. Schools where naginata classes were instructed by teachers from neither the Jikishin Kage-ryū nor the Tendō-ryū, sometimes the Butokukai’s guidelines were adopted, and sometimes rejected in favour of such as teaching materials as kata or techniques from other traditions, such as the Katori Shintō-ryū.
In this rather confused state of affairs, an almost unknown but noteworthy initiative was that of Niino Kyūhei. He decided to ignore the Butokukai’s new guidelines and did not affiliate with an existing naginata ryūha, but rather devised his own methodology.
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