The Natori-Ryu Grandmasters
When the history of the Kishu-Tokugawa clan was recorded, the compliers were working in the early stages of the Meji restoration and had the opportunity to talk with and record from the last grandmaster of the Natori-ryu. That man was Yabutani Yoichiro, the apparent tenth grandmaster who was the step son of Yabutani Yoichi, (the eighth grandmaster) and over eighty years old at the time of his interview. Upon seeing defeat of the Shogun’s forces by a modern miltary, the grandmaster Yabutani Yoichiro reported to the compilers that he considered the old military ways to be outdated and of little use, thus ending the Natori-ryu and stated that, no one has since inherited the arts, effectively killing the Natori-ryu after more than two hundred and fifty years of existence.
The Problems with The Grandmaster List
The following list of grandmasters has two major issues, the first is the problem of Natori Sanjiro Masazumi being employed by the Tokugawa clan when he was just a boy and six years old after his father had died, therefore there must be a missing grandmaster between the author of the Shoninki and his father, a grandmaster that is either missing, or that the position was held by Natori’s older brother until Masazumi came of age? Secondly, the record state that the seventh grandmaster was the uncle of the fourth grandmaster, which would make him the brother of Natori Sanjuro Masazumi and over one hundred years old if not more, which leads to the probability that he was in fact the nephew and that it was a mistake in the recording. The current list of Natori-Ryu grandmasters is not absolute and possibly fractional and will change with more research, however it is given as follows:
1. Natori Yoichinojo Masatoshi
2. Natori Yajiemo Masatomi
3. Natori Sanjuro Masazumi (also Masatake)
4. Natori Hyozaemon Kuninori
5. Natori (Unobe) Matasaburo (adopted and given twenty Koku)
6. Ohata Kihachiro (passed it back to the Natori family)
7. Natori Nanjuro
8. Yabutani Yoichi
9. Tomiyama Umon
10. Yabutani Yoichiro
Securing a blessing to re-open the School
In May of 2013 Antony Cummins secured the blessings of the Natori family to reopen the school. Here you can see the family signing a document to give their blessing and approval for the re-opening of Natori-Ryu.