Tokumeikan is one of the premier organizations in North America dedicated to the study and promotion of kenjutsu (classical Japanese swordsmanship). We specialize in the ancient art of Japanese swordfighting.
Created in 1994 from very humble beginnings, Tokumeikan has grown to now encompass branch dojos in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as affiliated dojos throughout Canada, the US, and Mexico.
We are an authorized group of practitioners that trains in Yagyu Shinkage Ryu kenjutsu (the Yagyu school of swordsmanship), one of Japan’s greatest schools of swordsmanship. The Yagyu were a family of daimyo (feudal lords) and were the swordsmanship teachers to the Tokugawa shoguns.
We are proud to be the first and only official study group (keiko-kai) for Yagyu Shinkage Ryu (Ohtsubo branch) in Canada, and one of the only two official keiko-kai in North America. We are authorized by and follow the direction of Kajitsuka Yasushi Sensei, soke of the Ohtsubo branch of the Owari Line of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu.
Kajitsuka Sensei and members of his organization demonstrating at the 2016 Asakusa Embutaikai in Tokyo. Video courtesy of Cliff Judge.
Master Kajitsuka’s group Arakido is famous in Japan. They appear annually at all the major demonstrations of classical martial arts throughout Japan, such as the Nippon Budokan Embutaikai, the Asakusa Embutaikai, the Meiji Jingu Embutaikai, and the Kashima Jingu Embutaikai among many others.
Members of Arakido demonstrate Yagyu Shinkage Ryu at the Meiji Jingu Embutaikai in Tokyo.
Master Kajitsuka visits our group on an annual basis. Members of our group have the unique opportunity to apply for official membership with Kajitsuka Sensei’s organization once they demonstrate commitment to the art.
Members of Arakido demonstrate Yagyu Shinkage Ryu at the 2017 Asakusa Embutaikai in Tokyo. Photo courtesy of S. Radzikowski.
For more information about Master Kajitsuka and his organization, please visit their official website: Arakido.
We are a non-profit organization tasked to achieving the following goals:
1) developing and growing a strong, solid group of dedicated practitioners of our art
2) promoting awareness and understanding of the art of classical Japanese swordsmanship, specifically the art of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu kenjutsu
Kajitsuka Sensei visiting his Canadian keikokai in Toronto in 2016.
We teach classes and conduct seminars in kenjutsu at various dojos in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). We also run workshops for theatrical and film organizations such as Rapier Wit Stage Combat School, at martial arts expos like MMA Expo, and at fan conventions such as Anime North.
Tong Sensei conducting a workshop in Japanese swordfighting for actors and fight directors of screen and theatre productions at Rapier Wit School For Stage and Screen Combat in Toronto.
We perform public demonstrations twice a year at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre for their Spring and Fall Festivals. Honoured to be a part of the largest annual gathering of the Japanese community from Ontario and upstate New York, we have been performing there each year since 2005.
Haru Matsuri 2017 at the JCCC in Toronto: the first Koryu Friendship Demo in Toronto! 😉 The participating groups from left to right: Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū (Sugino-ha) (Jigan Dojo), Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryū (Toronto Niten Kai Kenjutsu Dojo), Yagyū Shinkage-ryū (Ohtsubo Branch) and Yagyu Shingan-ryu Taijutsu (Tokumeikan), and Takamura-ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu (Kangetsu Dojo).
We also participate at various local charitable events such as McMaster University Fencing Club’s annual fencing tournament (a fundraiser for McMaster University Children’s Hospital) and Anime North (fund-raising for SickKids Hospital). And we demonstrate at important cultural events such as the Museums of Burlington’s Japanese Culture Day in 2014, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the twinning of the two cities of Burlington and Itabashi, Japan. Tokumeikan is proud to be a part of these major cultural festivals and exhibitions of martial arts in the Greater Toronto Area. For more information about our community involvements, go here: Partnerships
The Meaning of “Tokumeikan”
In Japanese, Tokumeikan means “The Hall of Bright Virtue”. It is an excellent name as it reflects our mission: to produce swordsmen who are both technically skilled and morally cultivated.
This is in accord with the old Samurai maxim of “bunbu ichi” – which literally translated means “military (matters), education (matters) are one” but has the approximate, general meaning of “the pen and the sword together”. What was important in the growth of the character of a warrior was not only martial skill but also an appreciation of literature, poetry and philosophy, notably ethics. They believed that such an appreciation would complete and balance the man, transforming him from a simple-minded, uncultured soldier into the ideal warrior: possessed of martial skill coupled with a refined aesthetic sense. It is this notion of the ideal warrior which we endeavor to create.
The Story Behind the Words “Tokumei”
As a matter of fact, “Toku-mei” is actually the Japanese reading of the two kanji that make up our founder’s original Chinese first and middle names, given to him at birth. The kanji are interpreted as “bright virtue”, both in Chinese and Japanese. The meaning of the kanji is the same in both languages, since kanji are essentially pictograms and represent concepts and ideas.
Our founder thought the word “Tokumeikan” was a fitting name for his dojo: a place to learn and practice virtue. A “dojo” is, by its very definition in Japanese, a place to learn the Way. What “Way” is this? Naturally, in Japanese budo, the traditional Way of the samurai is Bushido, the Way of the Warrior. Yagyu Munetoshi (1529-1606), the second headmaster of the Yagyu style of swordsmanship, expressed it well:
“The ultimate in swordsmanship lies in the Five Virtues*. Always keep this in mind.”
The Five Virtues* ( 五常Gojyo ) that he is referring to are:
仁 Jin (benevolence, humanity): respect/love towards parents, brothers/sisters, and others
義 Gi (morality, loyalty): do the right thing
礼 Rei (courtesy, manners): show your richness inside
智 Chi (knowledge, intelligence, wisdom): make the right decision
信 Shin (trust, sincerity): be trusted by others
They are the Five Key Confucian Virtues. Confucian principles formed the philosophical basis of Bushido, as is evidenced by the strong focus on ethics that characterizes this culture of duty and service. Virtue is something our founder strongly believes in. And it is something that the samurai of the Edo Period strongly believed in as well, seeing that Bushido was a cultural construct of the Edo Period, an era of peace and stability that allowed the samurai to study The Way of the Sword in depth, to evolve the art and perfect it. Whereas training in swordsmanship in the Warring States Period was purely a functional and practical necessity, in the Edo Period it became refined and evolved into a truly spiritual endeavour. In the Edo Period, through The Way of the Sword, the samurai learned “to grow a soul”. Tokumeikan, the place of virtue, is an apt name that reflects this goal of spiritual cultivation.
The “Mon” (Family Crest)
The “Mon” used by Tokumeikan is a valued family heirloom. It is the family crest (like a coat-of-arms) of Mr. Tong’s wife’s family. It has been passed down through the generations since the Middle Ages. Their line is of samurai ancestry, one of their ancestors having actually been a retainer (samurai) of the famous warlord, Oda Nobunaga, one of the “Three Unifiers of Japan”. The “mon” features a pair of eagle feathers.