Toda-ha Buko-ryu is a martial tradition which specializes in the use of the naginata, a Japanese medieval halberd. Its most advanced techniques center around the kagitsuki naginata, a weapon with a small cross-bar, for use against both the sword and spear.
The Toda-ha Buko-ryu is derived from another tradition, the Toda-ryu, which was developed by the legendary individual Toda Seigen during the Sengoku Jidai (Age of Warring States, a period of intense military and political conflict which lasted from about 1490 to 1600).
Toda Seigen was a famous disciple of the Chujo-ryu, and was noted for his short sword technique. Toda-ryu was originally a sogo bujutsu ryu, or comprehensive martial arts system, and its training curriculum thus included a variety of weapons and methods of warfare, a common practice of martial traditions of this period.
Over the years, however, a number of schools split off from the parent tradition each retaining various components of the Toda-ryu within them (such as Kiraku-ryu jujutsu, Itto-ryu kenjutsu and Saburi-ryu sojutsu). Today, the Toda-ha Buko-ryu is essentially a school that concentrates on the use of the naginata, although it also contains a number of other weapons (i.e. kusarigama, sword, bo, and nagamaki) in its repertory.
Training in Buko-ryu is conducted solely through the formal training exercises and pre-arranged drills called kata. They are designed to prepare men wearing gusoku (heavy armour of the sort used by warriors who fought on foot during the latter part of the Sengoku Jidai) for battlefield combat, using or facing a variety of weapons. All of the kata are comprised of a series of movements performed at high speed.
This develops the trainee’s strength, endurance and agility, as well as the ability to exploit physical or psychological weaknesses in the enemy’s defence. In addition, some techniques teach trainees how to fight under special conditions, e.g., against a mounted opponent when one is afoot, or while aboard a ship, indoors or in close, confined quarters.
Toda-ha Buko-ryu kata thus help trainees study and practice the roles and techniques of both attack and defence in a vigorous and controlled learning situation with little fear of injury.
More information about training in Toda-ha Buko-ryu kata can be found at Toda Ha Buko Ryu.