On August 7th, 2002 the Hakuho-kai branch of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu became an independent style called Hakuho-ryu. This style is dedicated to all open-minded, kind-hearted people who wish to break free from the past and seek peace in the new millennium.
Japanese Budo gained acceptance throughout the world during the 20th century. People first developed an interest in the modern Japanese martial arts through the spread of Karate, Judo, and then later Aikido. Eventually the origins of these wonderful arts; the kobudo, or classical martial arts of Japan, also experienced a boom in popularity.
Today there are many reasons why people train in Budo. Some wish to understand how fighting arts, or Bujutsu, came to flourish in Budo, a philosophy based in eliminating fighting and conflict. Others desire to capitalize on the image of Budo created in the popular media and competitive sports. Hakuho-ryu, however, seeks to promote the technical and mental aspects of this art as a true "Budo;" without any ties to the competitive aspects found in many modern martial arts.
Hakuho-ryu Aiki Budo comes from the kobudo of Daito-ryu Aikijujitsu. While preserving its Japanese cultural origins, Hakuho-ryu focuses on dispelling the mysticism which is usually associated with martial arts that trace their roots back to the kobudo. To accomplish this goal, Hakuho-ryu emphasizes a scientific approach to learning Budo. This approach focuses on five major areas of training: Hito e mi body movement, studying the composition of the human body, mental and physical development through breath training, understanding of the self, and development of the five senses. Each of these areas fulfills an important role in the development of the individual both in Hakuho-ryu and as a person.
The most fundamental aspect of training emphasized in Hakuho-ryu is hito e mi body movement. This movement is different from the hito e mi body movement found in other martial arts. In Hakuho-ryu the purpose of hito e mi is to eliminate any twist in the body during the execution of a technique. Therefore training focuses on being conscious of using both hip joints in unison to eliminate any such twisting movements. In addition to eliminating twists in the body, the hito e mi movement in Hakuho-ryu emphasizes the use of gravity as the driving force behind most all movement.
Understanding of the composition of the human body fulfills two purposes in Hakuho-ryu. First, it provides an understanding of the most natural, efficient way to move, which assists in the development of the techniques. Second, it accelerates the understanding and acquisition of "aiki" and its application in the techniques. By providing a scientific explanation of "aiki" based on the composition of the human body, Hakuho-ryu seeks to dispel the mysticism surrounding aiki as well as develop a rational method for people to learn this often misunderstood concept.
Breathing exercises, or kokyu-ho, are used in Hakuho-ryu to develop the mind and nervous system. Hakuho-ryu utilizes nine different breathing exercises. Some, such as "A-un" kokyu ho, focus on bringing the mind and body into better alignment. With the mind and body properly aligned it becomes easier to execute the techniques. Other exercises focus on improving the functions of the sympathetic nervous system; generating a better state of health. Still others focus on increasing the speed that the parasympathetic nervous system transmits signals to various parts of the body. Again this improves a practitioner's control of his movements and techniques. In total, these nine breathing methods play a vital role in the developing of the physical foundations required for performing the advanced techniques as well as the sensitivity necessary for the higher level "aiki" techniques.
In a similar fashion Hakuho-ryu focuses on developing the mind by improving the control of one's self and one's emotions. The goal of training these areas is to free oneself from fear and the competitive spirit that often accompanies the study of Budo. The methods used in Hakuhoryu to develop these areas are reserved for advanced practitioners, but the end result of this training is to allow one to achieve a sense of enjoyment even when confronted with a grave situation. Controlling oneself and one's emotions becomes is essential to achieving higher levels of mastery in the art, where one controls an opponent without resorting to violent use of force.
The final training area emphasized in Hakuho-ryu is the development of the five senses. While touch is probably considered the most important of the five senses used in Budo, development of all five senses is necessary for gaining an intuitive understanding of the concept of "maai" (roughly translated as "distancing"). Through the development of the five senses it is possible to improve the individual's understanding of maai; and along with it develop an instinctive, six-sense like ability to read the movements of an opponent. This ability is of course essential to being able to respond quickly and appropriately to an attack.
The technical curriculum of Hakuho-ryu Aiki Budo consists of the techniques of Daito-ryu Aikijujitsu and Onno-ha Itto-ryu Kenjutsu as transmitted to Okabayashi Sensei from Takeda Tokimune Sensei and Hisa Takuma Sensei. The difference between Hakuho-ryu and its parent styles is therefore not so much its technical curriculum, but rather the methodological and philosophical foundations of the style. Focusing on the five areas outlined above as well as the development of a scientific, non-mystical, method for transmitting the art are what truly differentiates Hakuho-ryu from its kobudo roots. They are also what make Hakuho-ryu a distinct and valuable style for the 21st century.