It is believed that Koto Ryu came to Japan from
China via Korea by a Chinese warrior named Chan Busho. Koto Ryu was originally a form of koshijutsu. The
exact origin of Koto Ryu is unknown but it was formalized by Sakagami Taro Kunishige, who was also a soke of Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu, in
1542. The two ryu share many similarities.
Many ninja and some samurai were trained in
Koto Ryu. The second most famous ninja of all time, Momochi Sandayu (the most famous is Hattori Hanzo), taught it to
Ishikawa Goemon. Ishikawa Goemon is infamous because he spent most of his life as a criminal. Dubbed "the ninja
Robin Hood", is documented by the ruling courts of Japan at the time to have been caught and boiled alive in a vat
of boiling oil. Some historians (along with Toshitsugu Takamatsu-sensei) believe that he was never caught and that his
capture was a lie set up by a shamed government.
The Koto Ryu Densho contain one of two
complete lists of the kyusho points. The other ryu is the Takagi Yoshin Ryu.
There are many unique aspects to Koto Ryu.
For example, the kenjutsu is unique in that the kamae used makes the swordsman appear unskilled, thereby luring the opponent
into over-confidence. Another kenjutsu kamae unique to Koto Ryu is "Mangetsu no Kamae" in which the blade is used
to reflect sunlight into the eyes of the attacker. If it was raining, however, the blood groove on the blade was used
to collect water and fling it into the eyes of the adversary.