HOME > Feature Articles > Shogun and Samurai Etiquette: Ogasawara ryu Reiho

Author: Jessica Gerrity(Instagram/Twitter @jessintokyo)


Hello this is Budo Ambassador Jessica. Do you know about reiho礼法?

If you train in martial arts like kendo, judo, karate, kyudo etc you may have heard of it before.

Etiquette and manners play a crucial role in Japanese martial arts, reflecting the practitioner’s respect for tradition, authority, and fellow practitioners. 

The other day I had the wonderful opportunity to train in Ogasawara-ryu reiho, kyujutsu and kyubajutsu for the day. In Nikko, Tochigi. With an over 830 year tradition I was very honoured to be invited to train.


Ogasawara Nagakiyo founded Ogasawara-ryū over 830 years ago as a school of archery, mounted archery, and Reihō (etiquette). The Ogasawara family served as instructors to generations of Shoguns in these disciplines. Ogasawara-ryū etiquette was taught to warriors across Japan as appropriate behaviour for samurai, and became the foundation for martial arts etiquette. Yabusame is a traditional martial art featuring an archer firing at targets from a galloping horse, and has been performed as a religious ritual at Shinto shrines since ancient times.

Ogasawara-ryu Reiho encompasses various ceremonial rituals, gestures, and serves as the base training for practitioners of the Ogasawara Ryu.

Strong legs and excellent posture needed to skilfully fire a bow from a galloping horse, are created by incorporating proper etiquette into daily life. The secrets of Ogasawara-ryū have been passed down from father to son throughout the centuries, and are preserved by the current and 31st generation head of the school, Ogasawara Kiyotada.(1)


The kanji for reiho is 礼法 

礼 rei: gratitude, manners, etiquette, bow, ceremony; ritual

法 hou: method, principle

Outside the Butokuden in the grounds of Nikko Toshogu Shrine.

Butokuden Hall was built in 1915 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the construction of Nikko Toshogu Shrine.

The interior of the Butokuden Hall showing specially prepared Ogasawara ryu ornaments for the reiho course.

I arrived at Nikko and traveled to the amazing Toshogu Shrine. After changing into hakama and dougi I entered the Butokuden an historical building and dojo and was amazed by the beautiful equipment.



Ogasawara Kiyomoto sensei explained about reiho. When samurai fought in heavy armour the bodies agility and balance was very important and the basic movements or kihontai:

I was honoured to be able to take a photo with Waka Sensei: Kiyomoto Ogasawara.

(standing, sitting, walking, bowing, holding, turning)


these are foundations for Ogasawara ryu kyujutsu (archery) and kyubajutsu(mounted archery) and the practitioners’ everyday lives. 

Practicing kiza and keeping the ears inline with shoulders and hips was useful for my kyudo practice.

Rising up from kiza to standing without breaking this posture was very difficult for me.

The amount of core, back, leg strength and overall body control sensei has is phenomenal. The movements are so fluid and natural. Something seemingly  as simple as standing up from seiza when done correctly was still very difficult for me.

As a kyudo practitioner reiho is something I have been wanting to pursue properly as I know it will have a positive affect on my taihai(group shooting) as well as over all technique.

I found shikkou in reverse the hardest. The short video of sensei performing it is together with the photos (shikkou going forward). Walking on the knees and feet, especially backwards, I felt very uncoordinated. I finished the training totally exhausted!

From Ogasawara ryu Official Youtube Channel: The basic movements and postures in reiho

From Ogasawara ryu Official Youtube Channel: Introduction to reiho in English.

This reiho/kyujutsu/kyubajutsu experience is called [My Shogun Story] and available for everyone details are below. Ogasawara ryu reiho training is also available online in English for everyone.


My Shogun Story

Samurai experience with Ogasawara ryu 




Online training in English



Big thank you to 

Japan National Tourism 

IG @visitjapanjp


Tobu Top Tours: My Shogun Story IG @my_shogun_story

Ogasawara ryu IG  @ogasawararyu

Photos IG @hirokyudoworld



🔹1)About Ogasawara-ryu



🔹Ogasawara-ryu YT Channel videos





🔹Other references







Jessica Gerrity IG @jessintokyo is a New Zealand born martial artist who has lived in Japan for 22 years. She writes in English for budojapan.com as their Budo Ambassador.

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