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History of Grandmaster Shoto Tanemura

Grandmaster Shoto Tanemura was born on the 28th of August 1947, in the small town of Matsubushi, which is located in Saitama prefecture some 25 miles Northeast of Tokyo.

Tsunehisa was his given name but later in life he took the name of Shoto, meaning the Law of the sword. Coming from a warrior heritage his father, Sadatsune Tanemura, was the 17th head of Samurai tradition, whose roots extended to those of royalty as well as having bloodlines from the famous Daimyo, (ancient Warlords of Japan), of the Sasaki family (59th Emperor Uda line) and Takeda Family (56th Emperor Seiwa line).  Being a very traditional father Sadatsune introduced his son to the martial arts at a very young age. Sadatsune was a Kendo expert, having a 5th Dan in Onoha Itto Ryu (an esteemed swordsmanship school). He also held the rank of 6th Dan in Juken-Jutsu (bayonet techniques) and also was ranked in schools of Ju-Jutsu.

The young Tanemura Tsunehisa was taught from the age of nine by his father and fathers' uncle Yamazaki Kakunosuke, (a master of the Onoha Itto Ryu, possessing an 8th Dan).  He was taught almost every day in Ken-Jutsu and Ju-Jutsu, the training was of a traditional nature and always conducted outside barefoot, regardless of the weather. Tsunehisa's regular training partner was a gentleman thirty-two years his senior, for the first five years of training. He was regularly beaten up and knocked out. When he was knocked out a bucket was soon filled with icy cold water and thrown on him and once awoken he was expected to continue his training immediately.

At fifteen he entered high school and began to study Shindo Muso Ryu Kenpo (sword) from a renowned master called Seishiro Saito. It was during these high school days that his quest for true martial arts was able to take form and begin to blossom. At the age of fifteen he also saw himself studying the famous Asayama Ichiden Ryu Tai-Jutsu (a classical school of Ju-Jutsu) and Takagi Yoshin Ryu Ju-Jutsu, Gikan Ryu Koppo-Jutsu, and many schools of Ju-Jutsu, Koppo-Jutsu, Kosshi-Jutsu, Daken-Tai-Jutsu and JuTai-Jutsu, etc. His training was so concentrated that he received hi first Menkyo Kaiden (next grandmaster) at the age of twenty in Shinden Fudo Ryu and Kukishin Ryu. Soon to be followed by Menkyo Kaiden in another 9 schools. Adding to this he also received Menkyo Kaiden in Chinese martial arts.

During his University days he was introduced to Kimbei Sato and started studying under him. In the winter of 1989 he was named by Kimbei Sato as the Grandmaster (Soke) of Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Bokkuden Ryu and others.

Besides his training at the dojo he would train at any time he was free to perfect his skill and techniques. His teachers were all of the old school type, being very strict, and closely guarding the secret techniques. They would teach each pattern only a few times, then expect the students to find out for themselves the points, which make the techniques work. So to master these techniques Shoto Tanemura Sensei practiced each technique many thousands of times until he discovered the points, making the technique a natural movement. He would use everything as his training partner, the nearby woods, rice fields, riverbanks, and natural objects such as trees, rocks, stones, animals, and even the moon.

On moonlit nights he would practice Yari (spear) and Rokushaku Bo (six foot staff) outside in a field, thrusting for the center of the moon to improve his accuracy, also his aim by thrusting at the barely visible leaves when they swayed in the wind. With animals he would encourage them to attack him. As the animal leaped at him to attack, he would use sabaki (natural body movement) to escape until the animal (usually a dog) would give up.

Trees, rocks, and stones were used to develop punching and kicking power and to strengthen the hands and feet. He would punch and strike a tree until his hands were bleeding. One of his teachers taught him a much better way to develop a strong strike (special press ups and Ki use). His teacher said that a true martial artist passes by unseen in a crowd, so if his hands were callused (due to punching hard objects) people could tell that he was a martial artist of some sort, or if in a fight the opponent would be able to tell straight away what type of training he did so would use strategy to counter this.

When he graduated from the University he was lead to believe that a career in law would be a good future, but was purely academic in nature so there was little use for the martial arts. He wanted to use his knowledge to protect and help others. At twenty-two he joined the Tokyo Metropolitan Police in order to use and test all he had learned. His skill was called up on many occasions and not once did it fail him. Knowing of his talent he was asked to teach self-defense to policemen at a special martial arts club. He was also a teacher of the police academy.

Somehow though he felt that it was his mission to introduce true martial arts to the world, so after fifteen years of service he resigned to carry out his mission. Soon after leaving the police department he founded his Dojo in 1985 on the 28th of November and has been teaching there since, as well as being invited to teach at seminars worldwide. Tanemura Sensei has dedicated his life to teaching true martial arts to the public world. He holds the position of Soke (Grandmaster) and Shike (Master) of many ancient martial traditions from Japan's warrior past. He is a true warrior in every sense of the word.

Tanemura sensei is the author of two books concerning Ninpo and made a video series, both in America and Japan, about the martial arts.  In the late 1970s Tanemura Sensei was the first Japanese martial arts master to travel overseas to teach openly. During the 19 80s and 1990s he traveled extensively to teach Ninpo.