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Thread: Sanada-han history/ Sanada-ryu

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    Default Sanada-han history/ Sanada-ryu

    Every now and then the subject of "Sanada-ryu" ninjutsu comes up on the internet and in these forums. For some reason, the Sanada clan is virtually unknown in the Western world, and nobody seems interested in cracking open a book to find out more about them.

    As such, I thought I would start a thread here to introduce a little of what is typically written about the Sanada clan in both English and Japanese.

    The most well known players in the clan were:

    Sanada (danjo-no-jo) Yukitaka (Aka: Sanada Ittokusai) - b. 1512 - d. 1574. One of Takeda Shingen's 24 Generals. Known for his skills in Senpo (guerilla tactics).

    Sanada (gentazaemon-no-jo) Nobutsuna - b. 1537- d. 1575. First son of Yukitaka, and leader of the clan after his death. Died at the battle of Nagashino. One of Takeda Shingen?s 24 Generals.

    Sanada Masateru - b. 1541 - d. 1575. Second son. Died at the battle of Nagashino. A General under Takeda.

    Sanada Masayuki (Aka: Moto Kihei). b. 1544 - d. 1608. Third son of Yukitaka, and leader of the clan after
    Nobutsuna's death. Builds Ueda-jo in 1583. A General under Takeda. Known for his skills in Senpo, and espionage (ninpo).

    Sanada Yukimura (Aka: Sanada saemon-no-suke Nobushige)- b. 1567 - d. 1615. Second son of Masayuki. Sent as a hostage to Uesugi in Echigo. Very famous samurai, having fought for Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the winter and summer campaigns at Osaka Castle.

    Sanada (izu-no-kami) Nobuyuki - b. 1566 - d.1658. Sent as a hostage to Tokugawa in Shizuoka. Succeeded as the han elder, living until 92. Fought against his brother Yukimura at Osaka under the army of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

    **

    Following is some general information:

    Sanada Yukimura was the leader of a minor house (clan), called the Sanada-han. He and his father Sanada Masayuki were famous for being brilliant tacticians. Though their army was very small, they won many battles in which they were outnumbered.

    At first Yukimura followed Ieyasu. However, Ieyasu later tried to seize his territory, so Yukimura betrayed Ieyasu. In the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, he followed Ishida Mitsunari to fight against Ieyasu. He also defended the castle of Ueda (built by his father Masayuki) in Shinshu from the vast army of Tokuyawa Hidetada, the son of Ieyasu. After the battle, his territory was seized by Ieyasu. But Yukimura gathered his army secretly, and raised it when the Winter Campaign of Osaka castle broke out in 1615.

    Yukimura built a small fortress called Sanada-maru ("Sanada circle") in the southwest area of Osaka castle. This fortress was impregnable, and Ieyasu's army suffered many losses trying to over-run it. So Ieyasu gave up attacking the castle in this battle, and proposed a reconcilation to Toyotomi Hideyori.

    Of course, this was Ieyasu's insidious strategy. He proposed a condition for the reconcilation, to destroy the outer moat of the castle. But when his envoy came in the castle, they destroyed not only the outer moat but also the inner moat. Osaka Castle was made defenseless.

    Next year, Ieyasu gathered vast armies, and attack the castle again. This battle is known as the Summer Campaign of Osaka castle. Yukimura fought the army of Date Masamune on May 6. Though Yukimura's army was outnumbered, he succeeded to stop Masamune's army. And the next day, he and a few his soldiers assaulted to the camp of Ieyasu directly. He closed in upon Ieyasu, but killed at the last step.

    A legend says Yukimura had ten heroic warriors, which were known as the Sanada Ju-Yushi ( Aka: Sanada Gundan). Its members were:

    1. Sarutobi Sasuke
    2. Kirigakure Saizo
    3. Miyoshi Seikai Nyudo
    4. Miyoshi Isa Nyudo
    5. Anayama Kosuke
    6. Unno Rokuro
    7. Kakei Juzo
    8. Nezu Jinpachi
    9. Mochizuki Rokuro
    10. Yuri Kama-no-suke

    Sarutobi Sasuke and Kirigakure Saizo (and possibly Mochizuki Rokuro) are also known from ninja lore, and are said to have been famous ninja. It is said that these ten brave warriors played active parts in the battles at Osaka Castle, defending against Tokugawa Ieyasu's army.

    Adapted from:

    http://www2.kanawa.com/japan/figure7.html#yukimura
    Sanada-machi (Sanada town) is located in Nagano. They still sell "Sanada-himo" (Sanada cordage) of which the area was famous for, and still have a Sanada gunnery troop. Sanadayama park in Osaka sits on top of the area where the Sanada-maru was built at Osaka-jo during the Sengoku period.

    Sarutobi Sasuke is one of a handful of names passed down through ninja lore. He was supposedly taught Koga-ryu ninjutsu by Tozawa Hakuunsai (supposed founder of "Gyokko ryu"). Because his foster father was a old subordinate of Sanada family, he also served Sanada Yukimura. It is said he died on action in during the Summer Campaign at Osaka-jo.

    **

    The Bugei ryu-ha Dai-jiten shows the following entries (pages 315-316):

    1) Sanada ryu Gunpo [war tactics] - main listing w/ lineage. Takeda Shingen is listed as the founder, w/ Sanada Masayuki as the third inheritor (w/ three successive generations of Sanada to follow)
    2) Sanada ryu Gunpo - less major art.
    3) Sanada-ke ryu (hojutsu) - minor listing.
    4) Sanada Yukimura ryu (dai-hojutsu) - minor listing.
    5) Sanada ryu (gunba [cavalry horsemanship]) - minor listing.
    6) Sanada ryu (gun'yo [military arts/use]) - minor listing.
    7) Sanada ryu (ka [fire]) - minor listing.
    8) Sanada ryu (jujutsu) - minor listing.
    9) Sanada ryu (bojutsu) - minor listing.
    10) Sanada ryu (shurikenjutsu) - minor listing.

    Though there is not any mention of "ninpo/jutsu" in the BRDJ in regards to these ryu-ha, there WERE at least 10 known "Sanada ryu" listed.

    The Sanada clan was a samurai clan that was famous for employing guerilla tactics and "beating the odds" through unconventional thinking (senpo, ninpo, etc.). Ninja were known to have been employed at Osaka castle, and fought in the Winter and Summer Campaigns. 2-3 of the 10 famous warriors under Sanada Yukimura are recorded in legend as famous ninja.

    There may or may not have ever been a specific "Sanada ryu" of ninjutsu, but the fact is, ninja lore is associated to some degree with the Sanada clan in Japanese history texts, and the clan did exist, and did spawn a number of martial ryu-ha. I suspect that the "real" history of the Sanada clan and ninjutsu is about as sketchy as most clans believed to have ninja ties. So take it for what it's worth.

    Regardless, the Sanada clan was a very famous, and very important clan in Sengoku period military history.

    Hope ya'll find some of this interesting. The above is open to additions or corrections should anyone have any to offer.

    Regards,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Excellent post - thanks for the very complete historical perspective. What this would also say is that you have the next-to-last inheritor of the ryu passing on in 1658; if the Bugei ryu-ha Dai-jiten speaks of only one more heir after that point, the ryu would have completely died out sometime in the 17th century, or 18th century at the absolute latest, if I am reading it correctly. If the lineage died out at that time, anybody who claims to be a practitioner of it today, or heir to its tradition, should be regarded with suspicion.
    Pete Knox

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    My guess is that some people bring it up here because of the book Ninja Training Manual, written by Toshishiro Obata under the pen-name Yukishiro Sanada, and because some Fuma-ryu people in the UK started a Sanada-ryu project too.
    J.T.

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    Hello Mr. Knox,

    Sorry, I was not very clear about the lineage part the BRDJ entry for Sanada ryu Gunpo. The lineage is roughly (I didn't translate some of the names completely):

    1. Takeda Shingen (1521-1573). Founder.
    2. Kosaka danjo Masanobu (1527-1578). Shingen's Chief Military Advisor, General, and lover. Fought at the Battle of Kawanakajima under Shingen).
    3. Sanada Masayuki (1544-1608) and Kasuga sojiro Nobumasa share transmission of the art
    4. Sanada
    5. Sanada
    6. Sanada
    7. Ishihara
    8. Kihara
    9. Shiokawa
    10. Sugiura Emon

    Sugiura Emon is the last of ten generations listed. I'm not sure when he would have lived/died, but could look into it more if anyone is interested. Though it is possible that an art involving the Sanada clan, that specializes in gunpo, might include elements of ninjutsu, there I haven't come across any specific references to this (outside of Japanese manga comics). If there is/was a group in Europe claiming to be studying Sanada ryu Gunpo, I would be more likely to pursue the issue further. But if it is ninjutsu, it is probably based on manga. I'd be very surprised if any of these Sanada clan traditions have survived past the Meiji period.

    Mr. Tuomivirta,

    Thanks for contributing something of real value to this thread. A little knowledge is fun, huh? The point I was trying to make in my first post is that everyone is quick to discount the entire subject as "fake" without doing any research themselves. The subject keeps coming up, and is discounted off-handed by most without making any effort to verify the history.

    The Sanada clan did exist, and was in fact quite famous, and ninja lore is associated with the clan. That is basically the same thing that the book you are referring to says. If your pissed off at modern "Sanada ryu ninjutsu" rip-off groups, then go attack them.

    Regards,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Originally posted by Nathan Scott
    Mr. Tuomivirta,

    Thanks for contributing something of real value to this thread.
    Well, I replied to this one before I even noticed the nearly identical one in the other forum, so at the time of writing my reply I actually thought I was bringing something into this, then I saw that the issue had been beaten to death on the other forum. Maybe I should have returned here to delete my post to make less waste.
    J.T.

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