Iaijutsu is very commonly referred to as the “Art of the Sword” because one studies how to smoothly and gracefully draw and cut with the katana, or Japanese long sword. However, the more literal breakdown of Iaijutsu illuminates its deeper purpose. “I” means “to be” or “to sit” and “ai” means “harmony” while “jutsu” means “art.” So together Iaijutsu can be viewed as the Art of the Harmony of Being. The Iaijutsu student practices not to defeat others, but rather to defeat the things within them that prevent their self-development.
Iaijutsu is practiced as a series of kata. Each kata begins with the individual calmly sitting or standing with their sword sheathed. Then, one or more perceived assailants suddenly attack the individual. The individual must draw his sword and perform a cut or series of cuts to defend themselves. Once the perceived assailants have been deterred, the sword is cleaned and re-sheathed. In the midst of all this action and perceived conflict, the iaijutsu practitioner must retain the calm state of mind they had while sitting or standing.
In addition to its meditative focus on calmness, Iaijutsu also emphasizes awareness, precision, efficiency and centering related to handling the sword and the self. Other aspects include manners and respect. Iaijutsu can be studied alone but it is very complimentary to other arts, such as Chado (tea ceremony), Shodo (calligraphy), and Kado (flower arranging), and is often taught alongside other forms of budo and or bujutsu.
Today, the most widely practiced style of iaido in central Japan is “Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu,” meaning “Peerless, Direct Transmission, True-Faith Style.” Eishin-Ryu claims a unbroken history of about 450 years, making it the second oldest extant martial art form in Japan (the only budo form with a longer history is “Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-Ryu,” an eclectic system of fighting arts that includes some “Iaijutsu,” the art of drawing the sword and reacting to surprise attacks).
The founder of Eishin-Ryu was Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto Shigenobu, who lived between 1546 and 1621 in present day Kanagawa prefecture, Japan.
Hayashizaki's iaijutsu has been given many names since then and it has been handed down from master to student to the present day. It is considered the foundation for the two major styles of iaido that are practiced today: Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu and Muso Shinden-Ryu. In each generation a headmaster, or soke, has been appointed to guide the practice of the art and each soke has had its own influence on its development. Eishin-Ryu claims an unbroken line from Hayashizaki through twenty-one generations to the present day soke, Sekiguchi Komei.
Most iaijutsu historians agree that the inspiration for the name Eishin-Ryu came from the name of the 7th generation headmaster, Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin. Certainly the characters used in his name are the same as those employed in the name of the style. After the 11th generation, iaido branched off into Muso Shinden-Ryu by Nakayama Hakudo. The original branch become known as Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu after Oe Masamichi. Currently these two are the most widely practiced iai styles in Japan. There are also a number of other, less-widely practiced, forms of iai that grew out of Hayashizaki's art.
Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaijutsu as practiced by our dojo is the descendant of an unbroken line of tradition that stretches back some 450 years to its origins in ancient Japan. Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu originated this technique that was to become Iai out of necessity after his father was slain. And if, after vanquishing his powerful foe Hayashizaki had lost the need for Iai, we might not know his name today. But instead of a one-use tool, Hayashizaki sama found an immortal use for this technique. He found a powerful way to preserve life, and refine the human spirit all at once. Working on this solid foundation he began to build a sword style that would survive until these modern times.
The seventh grand master Hasegawa Eishin shaped the school around the changing times, keeping true to its enduring spirit, and mastering a new type of sword. Hasegawa’s time saw the evolution of the sword from the Tachi design to the Katana. A different style of sword, with a different style of being worn. These stylistic changes demanded fundamental changes in the arts techniques. A challenge that was well met by the man whose name would come to label this style. In fact it was a demonstration before Toyotomi Hideoshi around 1590 that earned the ryu the title “Muso Ken” (“Sword Without Equal” ).
Iaijutsu is the art of a face-to-face, and perhaps spirit-to-spirit confrontation. In its simplest form, it involves the technique of quickly utilizing a sword to deal with a potentially deadly situation and then returning the sword to its sheath in a stylized manner. To call it “Samurai sword quick draw” would at first seem aptly descriptive, but then would fall so completely short of the mark as to make you sigh in exasperation.
Indeed the masters of this art are able to act with blinding speed. Hit with unerring accuracy and replace the sword in the sheath before you know they are moving. But this, I do not believe to be the very heart of Iai. Because anyone... anyone can move quickly. But, to know when to act, to feel compassion even in the heart of conflict, and to be able to see beyond the surface of the situation, and know what to do. This is Iai.
I have told people who attend my class for the first time, that I expect them to screw up everything I teach them. I say this because I see this uncompromisingly high self expectation that they have set upon themselves. At some point we all have to lower that expectation and accept our natural ability to succeed, and to fail. Learn from that failure, and succeed. We must set ourselves up to do and do again the things that teach us and help us grow.
I believe that there is always something more to discover in this school. Iaijutsu is over four hundred and fifty years old. How much has gone into this system. How many innovations, trial and errors have formed this ryu. And here I am, a student of only a few years. What do I have to learn... So much.
Iaijutsu is a martial art. A concept of warfare that has endured the ages. Iai is about an individual, and a sword. Iai is about meeting the challenge, and surviving. Iai is about not giving up, never quitting and seeing yourself through to the end. Iai is about exploration and learning, within yourself and the world.
With the inclusion of the suffix, jutsu, Iai claims a military history of practical application. An art--but a martial art. A series of forms and concepts born of battlefield sensibly will be a part of your education in this venerated style of individual combat. But within you there will be a deeper more personal battle. If won, this battle of the self, you will learn Iaijutsu and grow with it. If lost, you will see the sword for a sword and an ancient killing art for no more than its worth to shed blood.
Colorado Komei Jyuku
Brett Denison sensei, and his Mizukan Dojo, have been formally recognized as the official shibucho (branch head) for the state of Colorado, for the Komei Jyuku and the Yamauchi-Ha Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaijutsu under Sekiguchi Komei sensei (21st Head of the Ryuha). As such he has been awarded a menkyo teaching licnese. Denison sensei also recieved a formal Japanese budo name of Sekiguchi Kyoshin ( ) from Sekiguchi Komei sensei during this years training in Colorado (October 2004).
Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaijutsu, and its traditional cultural heritage as transmitted by the Tosa Yamauchi family, was presented to Sekiguchi Komei sensei through the 20th generation head, Onoue Masamitsu. Komei Jyuku's aim is to reveal the virtues and wisdom of Budo through the daily living and practice of our traditional martial art. The qualities of Budo are shared and transmitted physically as well as mentally; through verbal expression from our hearts; and are studied and preserved for future generations to come.
Komei Jyuku characterizes the association of Iaijutsu for personal development, through the daily living of the spirit of Budo. Through Budo and the unveiling of knowledge, we share its virtues with all people who are interested in this path.
Komei Jyuku symbolizes the spirit of Budo through its practical ethics and deep philosophy as lived by and passed down from the Japanese Samurai (Bushi). The world now seeks this spirit of Budo.
This is the mission of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu
Iaijutsu as transmitted by the 21st generation head--Sekiguchi Komei sensei.
Kata and Katachi
|1. Ippon Me||1. Mae||12. Yokogumo||22. Yukizure||33. Kasumi|
|2. Nihon Me||2. Migi||13. Toraisoku||23. Tsuretachi||34. Sunegakoi|
|3. Sanbon Me||3. Hidari||14. Inazuma||24. Somakuri||35. Tozume|
|4. Yonhon Me||4. Ushiro||15. Ukigumo||25. Sodome||36. Towaki|
|5. Gohon Me||5. Yaegaki||16. Oroshi||26. Shinobu||37. Shihogiri|
|6. Roppon Me||6. Ukenagashi||17. Iwanami||27. Yukichigai||38. Tanashita|
|7. Nanahon Me||7. Kaishaku||18. Urokogaeshi||28. Sodesurigaeshi||39. Ryozume|
|8. Hachihon Me||8. Tsukekomi||19. Namigaeshi||29. Moniri||40. Torabashiri|
|9. Kyuhon Me||9. Tsukikage||20. Takiotoshi||30. Kabezoi|
|10. Juppon Me||10. Oikaze||21. Makko||31. Ukenagashi|
|11. Juippon Me||11. Nukiuchi||32. Itomagoi|
Gohon Me no Kata
Sanbon Me no Kata
Nanhon Me no Kata
|1. Ippon Me||41. Mae||46. Hayanami||49. Deai||56. Hasso|
|2. Nihon Me||42. Aranami||47. Raiden||50. Kobushidori||57. Kobushidori|
|3. Sanbon Me||43. Kesaguruma||48. Jinrai||51. Zetsumioken||58. Iwanami|
|4. Yonhon Me||44. Takiguruma||52. Dokumioken||59. Yaegaki|
|5. Gohon Me||45. Tatsumaki||53. Tsubadome||60. Urokogaeshi|
|6. Roppon Me||54. Ukenagashi||61. Kuraiyurumi|
|7. Nanahon Me||55. Mappo||62. Tsubamegaeshi|
|8. Hachihon Me||63. Gansekiotoshi|
|9. Kyuhon Me||64. Suigetsuto|
|10. Juppon Me||65. Kasumiken|
|11. Juippon Me||66. Uchikomi|
Lineage of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu
|Founder:||Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu|
|2nd Headmaster:||Tamiya Heibei Shigemasa|
|3rd Headmaster:||Nagano Muraku Nyudo Kinrosai|
|4th Headmaster:||Momo Gumbei Mitsushige|
|5th Headmaster:||Arikawa Shozaemon Munetsugu|
|6th Headmaster:||Banno Dan'emon no Jo Nobusada|
|7th Headmaster:||Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin (Hidenobu)|
|8th Headmaster:||Arai Seitetsu Kiyonobu|
|9th Headmaster:||Hayashi Rokudayu Morimasa|
|10th Headmaster:||Hayashi Yasudayu Seisho|
|11th Headmaster:||Oguro Motoemon Kiyokatsu|
|12th Headmaster:||Hayashi Masu (Masa) no Jo Masanri (Seishi)|
|13th Headmaster:||Yoda (Mansai; Manzo; Sansho) Yorikatsu|
|14th Headmaster:||Hayashi Yadayu (Seiki) Masayori (Masataka)|
|15th Headmaster:||Tanimura Kame no Jo Yorikatsu (Sugio)|
|16th Headmaster:||Goto Magobei Masasuke (Seiryo)|
|17th Headmaster:||Oe Masamishi (Shikei Roshu)|
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