Traditions of Japan in Tobacco City

Edgerton, WI -- June 19, 2003 -- A light rain fell, as swordsmen from across the nation descended upon Edgerton, locally known as “Tobacco City”, in the morning hours of June 8, 2003. Senior instructors and students from as far as Dallas and Atlanta arrived for the opening ceremony of Koshibu Dojo, on the city’s west side. The ceremony commenced as the noon whistle sounded, with a demonstration given by students of the new dojo and the traditional offering to the dojo kami. Afterwards, spectators and family members would filter out and training with Guest Instructor Rick Ritacco, Kaicho of the Chicago Budokai, would continue until late afternoon.

Koshibu Dojo is a branch of the Chicago Budokai and offers instruction in the Kenjutsu of the Tenshin-ryu and the Aikijutsu of the Yamate-ryu, two traditional martial arts of Japan. Kenjutsu is the study of the sword and ultimately strategy, while Aikijutsu is the study of unarmed arrest techniques. Koshibu Dojo founder, Amos Smith, holds Shodan in Yamate-ryu and Kyosei in Tenshin-ryu and has studied various arts including Karate, Aikido and Jujutsu. A student of the Chicago Budokai under Rick Ritacco, he moved to Edgerton, WI in mid February of 2003 and began a kyokai here to help continue his training.

The Aikijutsu of the Yamate-ryu places little or no emphasis on speed, strength or striking, while typically using pins and throws to control an attacker. Students focus on unarmed combat techniques with responses to armed and unarmed attacks, often using the energy of the attack against the attacker. Yamate-ryu is a Taisho era style of aikijutsu, which descended from the Daito-ryu and was founded by Yamada Taro. Many of techniques of the Daito-ryu have influenced other modern arts such as Judo and Aikido.

Swordsmanship in Japan was once called Heiho or Strategy. Kenjutsu students will focus on the strategy of the Itto Tenshin-ryu, a school of kenjutsu from the late Edo period, founded by Kurosawa Kojiro. Iaido and Kumitachi sword forms covering single and multiple opponents make up the core of study. Other aspects include disarming and arrest techniques, shodo (calligraphy) as well as an introduction to other military weapons of Feudal Japan. Use of a live blade and fude are required for training in this art.

Classes are held 3 times weekly for students of each art, with additional time available during scheduled open mat sessions. Prior experience is not necessary. Law Enforcement and Emergency Services personnel train at no charge. Perspective students may make an appointment for an interview. Recommended for anyone who never wants to say “I’m bored” again.

For more information, call Amos Smith at 608-345-8807 or email:

Rick Ritacco
Chicago Budokai
(708) 774-1246