In 1985, while living in Japan, I was accepted for training by Kato Isao Sensei, Kanchō of the Shunpūkan Dojo (春風館道場) in Nagoya, Japan. The two main martial traditions being taught at the Shunpūkan were Shinkage Ryū heihō (新陰流兵法) and Owari Kan Ryū sōjutsu (尾張貫流槍術), but other adjunct traditions (ryūgi) and systems were taught as well. I have had the great honor and privilege of being a student of Kancho Sensei and the Shunpukan since that time, and was further honored by being given permission to form the “Higashi Shunpukan Dojo” here in Arizona.
Sadly, on the morning of 15 June of this past year, I received notification that Kancho Sensei had passed away earlier that morning. After 35 plus years of his instruction and guidance, this was a sad loss for myself and for all the members of the Shunpukan and the Higashi Shunpukan dojo.
Kato Isao Sensei has passed on a huge legacy of koryū teaching, not only as 14th inheritor of Owari Kan Ryu sōjutsu (spear arts) as well as full Inka in the Genshū-Kanbe line of Yagyū Shinkage Ryū heihō, but he also carried on the teachings of several adjunct traditions including, Shizuka Ryū nagamaki (静流長巻), Kakukū Ryū jumonji-yari (覚空流十文字槍), and Enmei Ryū (円明流).
While Kato Isao Sensei’s passing is a great loss, the Shunpūkan and its legacy will continue to be carried on under the strong leadership capabilities of Shimomura Yukihiro Sensei, one of Kato Sensei’s most senior students and designated inheritor. Shimomura Sensei will continue in Kato Isao Sensei’s footsteps as the next generational leader in the lineage that goes back through Kato Isao Sensei and his teacher, Kan’be Kinshichi Sensei and to Kanbe Sensei’s teacher, Yagyū Genshū Sensei–the last of his family line to receive full transmission–and on back to the 16th century founder of the Shinkage tradition, Kamiizumi Isenokami (上泉 伊勢守 1508-1577).
Shimomura Sensei has been the primary individual to represent the Shunpūkan Dojo at virtually all major enbu taikai for the last 20 plus years. Particularly over the last several years he has stood in for Kato Isao Sensei on the occasions that Kato Isao Sensei was too ill to attend.
I have known and trained with Shimomura Sensei since I began at the Shunpūkan Dojo. He is one of the most dedicated and selfless people I know. He began training under both Kanbe Kinshichi Sensei and Kato Isao Sensei when he was a nine year old boy in grade school, and indeed, over the past fifty year he has received the full transmission of Kato Isao Sensei’s teaching.
In January of this year, I had the honor to be invited to attend the inheritance ceremony in which Shimomura Sensei officially assumed his position as 3rd headmaster—kanchō—of the Shunpūkan, as well as assuming the rank and responsibilities of carrying on the transmission of Owari Kan Ryū sōjutsu, Yagyū Shinkage Ryū heihō, as well as the adjunct koryū traditions of the Shunpūkan Dojo.
Higashi Shunpukan Dojo
Hunter B. Armstrong
藤原保道 (Fujiwara Yasumichi)
March 20, 2023