7th Soke

Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke Taira no Masatomo (大塚龍之介平政智) is the 7th sōke of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū Hyōhō and leads the school in this generation.

Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke was born as Lösch Markus in Munich, Germany. Since his early childhood he was fascinated by martial arts and Japanese culture. In order to completely commit to learning the use of the Japanese sword, he even quit his longstanding training with the English longbow, where he used to shoot bows with a draw weight of up to 130 lbs. At that time no traditional Japanese sword-fighting school (koryū) was present in Munich or its vicinity, so he first started Musō Shinden-ryū, a modern style of sword-drawing (iaidō). Since he was not satisfied with the teachings of this modern martial art, due to the lack in practical application, he decided to move to Japan and study a real koryū.

When he moved to Japan in 2010, he soon became a student of Ōtsuka Yōichirō Taira no Masanori, a menkyo-kaiden ranked shihan (master) of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū at his Shinmeikai-Dōjō in Tōkyō. Due to his quick grasp of techniques and exceptional devotion he was accepted as an uchi-deshi (private pupil) by Ōtsuka Yōichirō. From that moment on he spent his time training in the Hokushin Ittō-ryū for several hours per day, which enabled him to quickly improve his techniques and become fluent in the Japanese language.

In July of 2013, Ōtsuka Yōichirō was appointed the 6th generation sōke (headmaster) of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū Hyōhō by Chiba Hiroshi Masatane, the 5th sōke. The enbu, which preceded the appointment of Ōtsuka Yōichirō to the 6th sōke, was performed together with Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke, who was ranked chū-mokuroku (menkyo) of the school at that time.
Having fought several successful duels against kenshi (swordsmen) of other ryūha (schools) and fellow masters and students, Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke was appointed saikō-shihan (highest master) of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū in October 2013 by the 6th sōke.

On the 12th of July 2014 by mastering all teachings of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū, he received menkyo-kaiden (dai-mokuroku), the highest master license, from the 6th sōke. At that time, he was taken on as a dōjō-yōshi (foster son) by Ōtsuka Yōichirō as he thought of him as the most suitable candidate as his heir and successor. He thus officially changed his name from Lösch Markus to Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke Taira no Masatomo.

On 26th of March 2016 Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke was officially appointed the 7th sōke of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū Hyōhō by the 6th sōke Ōtsuka Yōichirō, together with the 5th sōke Chiba Hiroshi. The ceremony took place in the Nakano Sunplaza-Hotel in Tōkyō. Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke then became the first non-Japanese sōke of a koryū in the history of Japan. Ōtsuka Yōichirō officially retired after the appointment of his successor and became sendai-sōke (previous/retired headmaster), fully entrusting the leadership of the school in Japan and abroad to Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke.

After becoming the 7th sōke, Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke officially moved the Chiba-Dōjō from Tōkyō to Munich, where it now serves as honbu (headquarter) of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū worldwide. He lives in Munich and leads the Chiba-Dōjō there as kanchō (head of the dōjō) himself. The former Chiba-Dōjō in Tōkyō was reorganized into two keikojō (training places), the Hokushinkai and Seiōkai which are currently led by two shihandai (beginning masters) of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū, who study the school directly under Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke.

As the official successor of the school’s kaiso (founder) Chiba Shūsaku, Ōtsuka Ryūnosuke spends several months a year in Japan and abroad, in order to spread the teachings of the Hokushin Ittō-ryū Hyōhō worldwide.