Kondo Shusuke (近藤周助)

Shusuke KONDO (1792 - November 23, 1867) was the third head of the Tennen Rishin school of swordplay. He was the adoptive father of Isami KONDO, the head of Shinsengumi. His original family name was Shimazaki. His childhood names were Sekigoro and Shuhei. Later he was called Shusai. His real name was Kunitake. His wife was Fude KONDO.

Personal profile

Shusuke was born as the fifth son of Nanushi (village headman) Kyuuemon SHIMAZAKI in Koyama Village, Tama County, Bushu (Musashi Province). In 1811, he became a disciple of Sansuke KONDO (the second head of the Tennen Rishin school of swordplay) at the age of 20. He took over the school and assumed the name Kondo in 1830. Shusuke KONDO, however, was only awarded the license for swordplay by Sansuke, who had in fact been dead for 11 years when Sansuke assumed the name Kondo in 1830. Sansuke had a number of gifted disciples, and some of them were even awarded licenses for the 3 techniques of the Tennen Rishin school: swordplay, jujutsu (traditional Japanese martial art which uses strikes, joint locks, strangulations and throws), and bojutsu (art of using a long stick as a weapon). Therefore, it has remained unexplained why Shusuke assumed the name Kondo.

In 1839, Shusuke moved to the residence in Ichigayakora, Edo (present-day 25, Ichigayayanagi-cho, Shinjuku Ward), and opened the Shieikan, a training hall for the Tennen Rishin school of swordplay. He adopted Katsugoro MIYAGAWA (later Isami KONDO) in 1849 and gave him the clan name of Shimazaki (later Kondo). In 1861, Shusuke yielded the head position to Isami, retired and changed his name to Shusai.

After the roshi-gumi (an organization of masterless samurai) including Isami KONDO left for Kyoto in 1863, Shusuke attempted to return from retirement, but suffered from paralysis and was confined to bed in the year. Consequently, Shusuke urged Kondo to return to the capital through Hikogoro SATO.

In 1867, all Shinsengumi members including Kondo were recruited as shogunate retainers, but in October of the same year, Shusuke died of disease at the temporary residence in Nijukki-cho, Ushigome. His grave lies in the Konchi-in Temple in Minato Ward.