Bokuden Tsukahara (NAIT)

Nobunaga's Ambition: Iron Triangle portrait

Bokuden Tsukahara (塚原 卜伝) is one of the most famous swordsmen of the Sengoku era, famed for his unbeaten record, training many of the era's other famous swordsmen, and creating his own sword fighting style called Kashima Shintō-ryū.

The Nobunaga no Yabou 201X poll for 4-star officers puts him in twelfth place.

Role in GameEdit

Bokuden Tsukahara is an optional officer in Kessen III. He is first met as one of the few officers in the Shogunate army to actually be prepared for battle at the end of chapter 6. He hides in ambush near the main castle, attacking any forces that move across the outer wall. To convince him to change sides, Bokuden must be defeated in single combat during a rampage. Upon this defeat, he will be impressed by Nobunaga and seek to join him after the battle.


  • "Shall I teach you the art of war?"
  • "Consider this part of your training."
  • "Lets see how you like the taste of defeat!"
  • "Now is our chance to seize the day!"

Fighting StyleEdit

Bokuden's abilities are squarely focused on leading katana units, although he is proficient in leading mounted and foot spearmen as well. Both his bonus in rampage as a warrior and his pre-equipped skills are focused on swiftly dishing out massive amounts of damage against enemy officers.

Historical InformationEdit

Tsukahara Bokuden was born to the Yoshikawa family in Hitachi province. His father was a priest for the shrine of Takemikazuchi. His childhood name was Asako and around age fourteen was adopted by Tsukahara Yasumoto as a new son to continue his clan after his own son died. Both his original family and his adopted family could trace their ancestry back to the imperial family and had close ties to the imperial house.

Both his birth father and adoptive father taught him the local sword fighting style of Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-Ryū, which Bakuden mastered by the age of seventeen. Wishing to improve his skills further, Bokuden decided to take up the swordsmen's journey of musha shugyo, a type of traveling training noblemen engaged in comparable to western idea of knight-errant.

These travels are hard to discern which contain truth and which ones have been exaggerated. Bokuden himself engaged in at least nineteen separate duels and fought in up to 37 separate battles, where he claimed 21 separate heads of important warriors. Such impressive skills in battle were only augmented by the numerous famous samurai he was reported to have trained, including Chōsokabe Nobuchika, Ashikaga Yoshiteru, Hosokawa Fujitaka, Kitabatake Tomonori, and Arakida Yoshishige.

His first impressive feat during his time wondering was his duel with Ochiai Torazaemon, in Kyoto 1510. Torazaemon was twice Bokuden's age and little respect for Bokuden's challenge, spending his time before the duel ensuring their duel had an audience. Torazaemon's overconfidence turned to shock during their duel, however, as Bokuden easily defeated him, opting to leave him alive after their short duel. Having suffered such humiliation, Torazaemon laid in ambush for Bokuden, who managed to use the single moment of reaction he had to seeing his assailant to draw his short sword and mortally wound him. When questioned on why he chose his shorter blade over the standard sword samurai used, Bokuden was said to have claimed he recognized the distance would be too cramped for normal sword use.

During one of his trips home, Bokuden's adoptive father decided to honor him by having him marry his daughter, solidifying his place as future clan leader. Bokuden thus had a permanent place he could return between his battles, wanderings, and time spent in meditation.

Bokuden's travels did not end there either. He would spend time training with Kamiizumi Nobutsuna as the latter was establishing his own martial arts school. It is uncertain if one taught the other, stories do claim that during his stay there, Shinamaru Enkai challenged the school and humiliated it while Bokuden was away and Nobutsuna was sick. Bokuden decided to win their honor back by fighting supposedly eighteen Enkai's pupils before slaying Enkai himself in their duel.

Another famous man he dueled was Kajiwara Natago, who favored the Naginata as his weapon of choice. A man known for killing his opponents in harsh ways, Bokuden recognized a weakness to his weapon and merely cut the bladed head off of the naginata and proceeded to kill his now disarmed foe.

As Bokuden continued to wander and train, he began to develop his own fighting style, which he called Kashima Shintō-Ryū, which he claimed Takemikazuchi (the deity his birth father served as priest to) gave to him directly during a one thousand day stent spent meditating at the Kashima shrine. The exact nature of his technique is lost to time, but it is thought to have incorporated how Bokuden would win his duels, by waiting with his chest exposed to strike his foe when their blade was less than an inch from contact.

Bokuden Woodblock Painting

Woodblock depicting Bokuden and Musashi's legendary duel

As Bokuden reached the latter days of his life, he began to turn his teaching from how to kill a foe quickly to how to avoid killing them at all. A possibly legendary duel exemplifies this change in philosophy, where Bokuden was challenged to a duel by an unruly swordsmen near Kyoto. Bokuden promised to defeat him with the No-Sword style, which the ruffian mocked. They agreed to duel on an island on lake Baiwa and crossed over to the island on the same boat. Boken let the man junk from the boat first and as he turned around to prepare to fight, Bokuden simply rowed the boat back into open water and explained that this was how the no-sword style worked.

Bokuden died at the age of 83 in 1571, having retired to his home in Kashina, where he passed on his school to his oldest son. Although passing away over twelve years before his birth, a final, famous duel was often depicted in legend between Miyamoto Musashi and Bokuden. Mushashi was said to approach Bokuden while he was boiling his tea, demanding a duel. Bokuden refused, which provoked Mushashi to attack. With no sword near by, Bokuden defended himself with his tea kettle lid, turning Mushashi's blade and pinning him to the ground.