Toshitsugu Takamatsu was born in the 23rd year of Meiji
(March 10, 1887) in Akashi, Hyogo province. His given name was Hisatsugu but he later changed it to Toshitsugu. During his life, Toshitsugu Takamatsu also came to be known as "Moko No Tora" or Mongolian Tiger.
The Takamatsu family originated from Matsugashima in Ise. It is believed that at some point in their family history the Takamatsu's had been Daimyo of this area and owned the Hosokiubi Castle.
Toshitsugu's grandfather was Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda. He had a bone clinic and a Budo Dojo in Kobe. He was of Samurai rank and Soke of Shinden Fudo Ryu and a direct descendent of Tozawa Hakuunsai, the original founder of Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu. Toshitsugu's father sent him to train with Toda because Toshitsugu was weak as a child. His classmates would often pick on him until he cried. They would call him "cry baby."
Toda taught Toshitsugu Shinden Fudo Ryu. Later he learned Koto Ryu and
Togakure Ryu. He was fond of Koto Ryu but had little interest in Togakure Ryu.
During his first year of training he was taught nothing, instead he was thrown around by the other students continuously. He would bleed from the elbows and knees. Nobody would comfort him, they would just continue to throw him around the dojo. But every night he came back for more. After a year of this he was taught his first techniques. By the age of thirteen he had mastered the techniques of the school.
When he was thirteen he left high school to go to the George Bundow English School in Kobe. While there he learned Takagi Yoshin Ryu from
Mizuta Yoshitaro Tadafusa. When he was seventeen he was given the Menkyo Kaiden to the Ryu.
While seventeen he was also taught Kukishin Ryu Happo Biken no Jutsu
from Matsutaro Takekage Ishitani. It was from Ishitani that Toshitsugu also learned Hon Tai Takagi Yoshin Ryu and Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu. Before Ishitani's death he passed the scrolls of these ryu on to Toshitsugu.
Toshitsugu received his Menkyo Kaiden from Toda in 1909 when he was 22 years old. Toda died that same year. He once told Takamatsu, "Even when you are faced with death, die laughing."
Toshitsugu made several trips to China and abroad when he was young. There are countless stories of his adventures and martial prowess. Takamatsu once said he fought 12 fights to the death (the result of challenges) and 7 competitive matches. Once while in the mountains of China, he was attacked by several bandits. One of the bandits grabbed Takamatsu around the waist. The bandit suddenly screamed and, letting go of Takamatsu, fell to the ground holding his face. Takamatsu later said he did not know what he had done to the man, but feeling something wet and warm in his hand, realized he had plucked the man's eye out. He gave the bandit first aid and then charged him for his services.
In the 1950's Takamatsu took a new student named Masaaki Hatsumi, then in his 20's. Hatsumi had been studying Kobudo under a teacher named Ueno, who had told him that there was nothing more he could teach him. Hatsumi trained with Takamatsu every weekend for 15 years. Hatsumi said that when he first met Takamatsu he was frightened of him.
It is said that when training with Takamatsu there was never any warm up. Even when using real weapons the same was true. Takamatsu said that in a real fight there would be no time to warm up before hand.
One day Takamatsu and Hatsumi were sitting in a room in Takamatsu's house. Takamatsu told Hatsumi to close his eyes while he left the room, and to keep them closed. Hatsumi heard him leave the room and go downstairs. He did not hear Takamatsu re-enter the room. Takamatsu attacked Hatsumi from behind with a live Katana using Jumonji Kiri, one vertical and one horizontal cut. Hatsumi later said that as he sat in the room with his eyes closed, he felt something was wrong and moved to the side. Then, for no reason, he somersaulted forward. Takamatsu told Hatsumi that he had the "feeling" (sakki) and presented the sword to Hatsumi. After this Takamatsu gave Hatsumi the Menkyo Kaiden.
Takamatsu died on April 2, 1972 at the age of 85.
He is buried in the Kumedra cemetery near Nara.