History of Dai Nippon Butoku Kai
Under Emperor Kanmu’s supreme authority to promote martial chivalry, the Butokuden (Hall of Martial Virtues) was established 794 A.D. to encourage the Bushi warriors to develop their military prowess. They say that May 5th of 818 AD by the imperial order of Emperor Saga, the Yabusame ceremony (Archery on Horseback) was conducted in honor of the warriors’ tradition to promote aristocratic authority of the imperial majesty in the Butokuden (Hall of Martial Virtues) located near Heian Shrine(circa 781A.D.) in Kyoto, Japan. Since then, Butokuden became the center of all martial arts training throughout the history of Japan. From the late 9th century, the rise of fighting men with military and martial skills began to dominate the fate of Japanese history.
They are called Bushi, (Warrior Class) and the Samurai was one such class of military aristocratic men serving for the nobility. In feudal Japan from late 14th century to early 19th century, they developed complex combative forms along with weapons, armors, and various instruments of warfare. Diverse Ryuha Bujutsu (Martial Arts Schools based on Particular Systems) has extensively evolved emphasizing their unique combative strategy, methods, theory, and application.
The Samurai warriors, as ruling nobles by virtue of their professional and lifelong commitment, dedicated their lives on developing such superior martial skills and the cult of military excellence. The manifold Heiho (Martial Strategy) systems were developed during the proliferation of warfare, Sengoku Jidai (Period of Nations at War) from 15th century to early 17th century Japan. In the decisive battle of Sekigahara in 1600 AD, the Tokugawa military clans destroyed the Toyotomi allied troops and the powerful Shogunate military feudal government called Tokugawa Bakufu was established in Edo, present day Tokyo.
Under the ruling Bakufu regime, Japanese warrior class by and large faithfully maintained the traditional order of martial disciplines for critical readiness for the next two hundred fifty years. We knew the Bushi (warrior class, often called Samurai) was not only the champion of societal elite for their military skills but also they epitomized the exemplary moral leadership by living and dying under the code of Bushido ethics they relentlessly adhered. The precepts of Bushido (the Way of the Warrior ) stressed absolute obedience to the code of conduct and the way of life based on virtues of honor, loyalty, courage, duty, filial piety, sacrifice, integrity, discipline, compassion, moral rectitude and incomparable fighting spirit.
With this powerfully instituted frame of mind, Bushi sharpened the way of the sword and other cognate military disciplines. During the Tokugawa period until mid 1800 AD, the diversified martial arts schools were evolved to claim their supremacy in the military prowess. When Tokugawa Keiki, the last Shogun had abdicated his political power to the imperial throne in the Meiji Restoration of 1867, Japan embarked on a new nation building to catch up with the west and to develop a position of military and political power in the international community. In that tumultuous process, the traditional martial culture and its philosophical tenets became important instruments of national ideology.
In 1895, the leading military and martial elites backed by Governor Watanabe of Kyoto Prefecture established The Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (Greater Japan Martial Virtue Society) in Kyoto Japan under the authority of the Ministry of Education and the endorsement of Meiji Emperor to solidify, promote, and standardize all martial disciplines and systems. It was the first official martial arts institution of Japan sanctioned by the authority of the national government.
The Prince Komatsu no Miya Akihito had served as the first Sosai, supreme commander of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai while Governor Watanabe served as Fuku Sosai, vice-commander. Consequently, DNBK became the prestigious headquarters empowered by the nation’s leading experts, and established as the center for training, research, licensing, and publication of martial arts. In 1899, the Butokuden was rebuilt again to become the place for the ancient glory and highest status for every martial art practitioner.
In 1911, Bujutsu Senmon Gakko ( Busen ) (Martial Arts Professional School) was established within a framework of Dai Nippon Butoku Kai to administer national accreditation, certification and professional training of all martial arts disciplines throughout Japan By 1930, National Government Record on Martial Arts Profile showed more than two and half million Black Belt holders, and more than two hundred fifteen thousand high-ranking experts registered in the eight major martial disciplines.
In 1946, after the end of pacific war the GHQ of SCAP (the supreme commander of allied powers) issued the peremptory directive to dissolve all military related organizations, and subsequently DNBK dissolved its organizational charter voluntarily. After San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952, Japan regained her sovereignty.
In 1953, present day Dai Nippon Butoku Kai was re-established with a new charter and the new philosophical vision. The Late Kumao Ohno, Hanshi was instrumental in this process as the vice chairman of DNBK Honbu. Honorable Jigo Higashi Fushimi, former Duke, the chief abbot of Shorenin Temple in Kyoto, a brother to Empress of Emperor Hirohito became the Sosai of the new society. The new axiom of DNBK stresses preservation of classical martial arts tradition and emphasizes upon restoring the heritage, legacy, and virtues of martial culture and the promotion of education and service through martial arts training.
Butoku Sai (Martial Arts Festival) is held every year in Kyoto Butokuden on April 29, on Showa Emperor’s birthday, where hundreds of official members of DNBK participate in the annual celebration event. In 1965, Tesshin Hamada brought the traditions of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai to the east coast USA In 1972, with the endorsement of the late Kumao Ono, Hanshi, then vice president of the board of directors and the Honbu, the first official division outside of Japan was established in Virginia and the east coast USA, and in 1985 they subsequently established the USA division of DNBK under Tesshin Hamada after the historic Butoku Sai event in Kyoto.
In 1992 the Honbu officially established the International Division under the leadership of Tesshin Hamada overseeing all international members. In 1994, the first official international martial arts training seminar was held in London,United Kingdom. In 1992, the First All America Butoku Sai was held in Old Dominion University, Norfolk Virginia, and twenty Hanshi and the prominent martial arts leaders from Honbu participated in the finest demonstration exposition.
In 1998, the unprecedented First World Butoku Sai was held in Old Dominion University with over two hundred fifty Black Belts practitioners from twelve nations participating in the historic event. The Fuku Sosai, Jiko Higashi Fushimi, a cousin to Emperor Akihito led the Honbu delegations comprised of twenty- two top elite members of DNBK. The official participants demonstrated the respective disciplines of Kendo, Jiujutsu, Naginata, Jojutsu, Iaido, Sojutsu, Aikido, Karatedo, and various Kobudojutsu. The entire procession was conducted in the dignified traditional format as befitting to the integrity and honor of the premier Budo society.
In 2002 April 27-30, the Second World Butoku Sai in conjunction with 40th National Japan Butoku Sai were held in historic Butokuden with 650 Black Belts consisting of 217 elite members from fifteen nations. The auspicious events were presided by Sosai, Fuku Sosai, and Adachi Hanshi and his fellow board members along with hundreds of organizing committee members. The events were endorsed and supported by Kyoto Prefecture Governor, Kyoto Mayor, and Kyoto Newspaper. This was considered the best traditional martial art exposition event ever held in Japan and the world.
In 2004 November, the Second All America Butoku Sai was held in Old Dominion University with 500 Black Belts from 20 nations and top Honbu delegation led by Hanshi Nakada and Hanshi Kuwahara. DNBK International Division celebrated this auspicious event with tremendous positive impact in the Budo history. In 2005 June, the First Portugal DNBK Budo Rensei Taikai with 200 international delegates from fifteen nations is to be slated in Sintra Portugal as well as the first DNBK Budo Seminar in Spain is to be scheduled.
At present, Hanshi Tsujino, serving as the president of Hanshi Board of DNBK Honbu in Kyoto, leads the administrative operation of the organization, and the active Hanshi Board under the leadership of Hanshi Nakada and Hanshi Kuwahara, vice presidents are serving to meet the challenges of the DNBK missions in Japan In the International Division, we have official representatives in the various regions of the USA,Canada,United Kingdom,Italy,Belgium,Portugal,Israel,Malta,Russia,Spain,Germany,France,Hungary,Romania, and Armania and we intend to develop broader representations worldwide in the future. The society aims to foster greater international understanding and world peace through martial arts training and education.