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Greetings from Japan 

David Barber

Director of Negishi Ryu International

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International Membership Guidance at a Glance.

  • Negishi Ryu does not actively recruit students, however we are open to the prospect of working with sincere, like-minded students in overseas group formation (not individuals, at this time).

  • Groups will be chartered as keikokai, and receive direct instruction from the Japan headquarters.

  • We seek student quality over quantity. Due to current resource limitations, we can only admit a small number of groups at any given time.

  • We are often approached by throwing enthusiasts and people eager to learn the technical aspects of our school, but do keep in mind, we seek members that are also passionate about history, philosophy, culture & preservation. 

  • All keikokai members are carefully vetted by the international director in Japan. 

  • As a koryu tradition, in-person, direct transmission is an important part of the training process. Overseas groups are required to host annual, face-to-face seminars. A Shihan (master instructor) will be dispatched by the Japan headquarters.

  • Online guidance via video uploads and group discussion will be conducted on a regular basis.

  • Students visiting Japan are welcome to attend scheduled classes at any of our dojo for a minimal fee. 

  • All students will require uniforms and their own weapon sets.

  • A suitable practice space (indoor or outdoor keiko-ba/dojo) is required to carryout the required training & rituals. A ceiling height of at least 3 meters is recommended.

  • Keikokai will need to acquire the necessary equipment, such as stands, targets, tools etc.

  • Grading and licensing opportunities will be made available at the appropriate time.

  • Keikokai charters are valid for 12 months, and are subject to annual review and renewal.

  • At the discretion of the Japan headquarters, Keikokai may be elevated to the status of Overseas Branch Dojo or Overseas Regional Branch. 

Authorized Groups 

Negishi Ryu International

David Barber - Shihan

Head of International Division (国際部長)

Honbu Dojo(本部道場)

Hayasaka Yoshifumi - Shihan

7th Generation Soke (第七代宗家)

Ryugasaki City, Ibaraki, Japan

Kyushu Shibu

Ikenaga Yasuo - Shihan

Director of Kyushu Branch

Kumamoto, Japan

Kamakura Branch

David Barber - Shihan

Director of Kamakura Branch

Kamakura City, Kanagawa, Japan

Naha Shibu

Fukuhara Tomoaki

Director of Naha Branch

Naha City, Okinawa, Japan

To submit a group membership petition, contact the Director of the International Division.

Spotlight on the Koryu
(further reading for applicants)


​The Negishi Ryu has always been a somewhat exclusive and guarded tradition. Former Soke, Saito Satoshi only accepted a small number of disciples during his life of 92 years. As the head of Japan’s illustrious Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai, he was known by all, and approached by many. Yet, he chose to be extremely selective in adopting his students. According to Saito-sensei, koryu budo (kobudo) represents the true heart and spirit of Japan. Ideally, candidates would have prior experience in classical martial arts and an appreciation for Japanese culture and tradition. A willingness to explore the Japanese language is also a necessity, as important teachings can often get lost in translation. Most important of all is the person’s inner character and mind-set. What is motivating them to enter our gates? Every student that Saito Satoshi accepted, came via recommendation. In my case, it was Kajitsuka Yasushi, headmaster of Yagyu Shingan Ryu.


2024 will mark the tenth anniversary of Saito Satoshi’s passing. As international interest in koryu traditions continues to grow, we too are opening our doors to expressions of interest. Internationally, we are seeking a limited number of carefully selected groups, that are earnestly willing to study the ways of our tradition and extend the legacy to a global audience.  


The Koryu are deeply rooted in traditional Japanese culture. For some, the ways of thinking and doing things in a koryu may appear outdated or at conflict with one’s own culture or belief system. For this reason, there are many in Japan who have said that the koryu can never be taught outside Japan. To some extent this is true. Unlike modern-day martial arts, the koryu tend to operate conservatively, following age-old customs and traditions. It therefore takes a certain type of student to appreciate these hurdles and complexities. Non-Japanese struggle with issues concerning hierarchy, transparency, rank recognition, time efficiency, and the language and cultural barriers. In modern martial arts, student progression is mapped out, with an emphasis on obtaining skills and meeting benchmarks. Constant recognition, in the form of colored belts, ranks, certificates and titles, all go toward motivating the student. But, in the koryu, for the most part, this motivation must be harnessed from within. There isn't as much carrot dangling and ego massaging. For this reason alone, many people walk away in the initial years. I liken the koryu to that of being adopted into a family. But not just any family, a conservative Japanese family. Or better still, a conservative Japanese samurai family. This suggests that everything we think, say or do, reflects on our relationship with the family. There is no me, there is only us, as a community. You are not learning the martial arts for yourself exclusively, but for the betterment of the koryu tradition as a whole. Essentially, by learning, you are also working to preserve and protect the teachings, the legacy and the reputation of the koryu family. One bad apple (or Lone Ranger) can spoil the bunch, so to speak. At the head of a koryu family there is a Soke, which literally means Head of Family. In any family, there are elders and there are youngsters. I'm referring of course to the Japanese seniority system of senpai and kouhai. The term Budo (武道) or Kobudo (古武道), contains the characters for Martial Path (michi). This is the path we all walk as martial artists. Regardless of rank or belt color, we turn to family elders who have walked the path before us for guidance. Unlike sports clubs, there is no rivalry or competition, but rather a sense of cooperation and mutual respect. This is a path of self refinement, much like the forging process of the katana blade itself. Raw iron becoming precious steel.


Today, we are living in an information age, where everything is openly available to us at the click of a button. We can communicate instantly, engage in group discussions, debate things, call people out, and simply click LIKE (or dislike) on everything we see in our social media feeds. In Japan, cultural traits such as discretion and humility are ingrained in the psyche from an early age. As a result, Japanese people are often misread as being shy or passive. Unable to speak their minds. But, as already discussed, everything we say or do as individuals, has the potential to impact our social circles. So in this regard, belonging to a koryu family requires a certain level of maturity and responsibility.


The samurai caste were professional warriors, serving regional warlords (daimyo) across the nation. In those days, martial arts instruction was a respectable, full-time, paid profession. In modern day Japan however, few instructors teach martial arts as a primary source of income. Most work demanding, full-time jobs, in an effort to make ends meet. In contrast, the vast majority of instructors teaching Japanese martial arts abroad, do so commercially. Like any business, the need to constantly recruit new students, compete in the marketplace, differentiate and innovate can all lead to a deterioration in traditional budo values and culture. On the other hand, training and teaching on a daily basis can also elevate the overall quality of instruction. It is important to understand what motivates students. In Japan, crime is few and far between. Many practitioners and instructors have never encountered violence first hand. Physical fitness and character development are the two primary motivators. In contrast, students outside Japan face different realities. Crime is rampant, war is prevalent, and real self-defense concerns may be a significant motivator. The question is, how can we continue to uphold age old traditions, while also adapting to the conditions of the present day?


In principal, Negishi Ryu does not restrict its members from studying other martial traditions, provided they do not impose a hindrance or a conflict of interest. This conflict may appear in various forms, such as a difference in core organizational values, ideology, methodology etc.


In accordance with tradition, admission to the school is by invitation only. This being said, interested parties are invited to contact us via email to express their interest. As we look into the future, we do foresee the internationalization of our koryu family. At this stage, we are open to working with like-minded overseas groups, as opposed to individual students. 

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