Our club follows the teachings of the sword school ‘Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu’; this translates as ‘peerless, direct-transmission, true-faith style’ and can claim a lineage which is about 450 years long making it the second oldest martial art form in Japan tracing it’s roots all the way back to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto Shigenobu, the founder of Iaido as we know it.
Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shinobu is believed to have been born in Sagami province (today – Kanagawa) in 1549AD and was a master of Budo in his day. Although there were a few existing formalised sword schools already in existence (i.e. Katori Shinto Ryu and Takenouchi Ryu) he is widely acknowledged as the man responsible for Iaido as we know it today.
When he was 25 years old he travelled across Japan as Musha Shugyo (Bushi who travel to challenge the Bushi from other martial arts schools to a duel), this was the way young swordsmen practiced and refined their skills. During this time Jinsuke Shinobu visited Hayashizaki temple to pray to Hayashi Myojin – it is said that whilst he was praying he received a vision from a deity revealing to him the true meaning of Iaido (hence ‘Divine Inspiration’). He changed his name in tribute to receiving this enlightenment.
His new style was characterised by a less aggressive approach, by intuitive knowledge and by adopting a more spiritual dimension – this was truly radical for the type of swordsmanship that was practiced at the time.
Perhaps the most pivotal figure in creating the style which would eventually become Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu was Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin. Considered to be the school’s official founder, he was not only 7th Headmaster of Jinsuke’s style but also 19th Headmaster of Muso Jikiden Ryu. On the basis of his substantial experience and abilities in both styles, Eishin founded his own school (which would eventually come to be known Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu) which was passed on in it’s entirety to the 8th Headmaster.
One of the most important innovations Eishin brought to the art of drawing the sword was that he instructed that it was preferable to have the cutting edge of the sword pointing upwards. This allowed for a significantly swifter drawing of the sword which is likely to have proved decisive in the outcome of any conflict situation. This new innovation was quickly adopted by the other sword schools who had, up to that point, continued with the more traditional approach of having the blade edge pointing downwards.
The 9th Headmaster was Hayashi Morimasa who not only continued with the style he had inherited from previous Headmaster but decided to incorporate the teachings of his own Sensei – Omori Rokurozaemon Masamitsu who was an adept of Shinkage Ryu Kenjutsu.
Although Omori was not directly affiliated to Jinsuke’s style he was to become extremely important in its continued development. He devised the set of 11 kata from the seiza kneeling position, which was much more suited to the ways of indoor combat and passed these on to Hayashi Morimasa. Omori was also one of the first teachers to consider etiquette when practising Iaido and decided to adopt the reiho from Ogasawara Ryu Kyujutsu (archery). This was also passed on to Hayashi Morimasa.
After the 11th Headmaster, the lineage of Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shinobu’s style split into two separate paths due to the differing opinion on who should be the next appointed Head.
Our path led to the 15th Headmaster who was Tanimura Kamenojo Takakatsu - for which the style Tanimura-Ha came to be named. It is at this point that it was decided to strictly adhere to the teachings of Hasegawa Eishin and firmly cemented the style which is Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu.
The 17th Headmaster was Oe Masamichi Shikei who studied and taught the style of Jikiden that was practiced in Tosa, Southern Japan; renowned for its traditionalism and loyalty to its warriors heritage. Oe is credited not only with successfully unifying and classifying the many differing variants of the Tanimura-Ha style that flourished at the time but also with giving the style its name –Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu.
Our current teacher is Oshita Masakazu Sensei (8th dan Kyoshi) who is a direct student of Haruna Matsuo Sensei (8th dan kyoshi) – one of the most adept practitioner of Iaido in modern times.
Below is a list of all the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu forms that we study as part of our core syllabus.
OMORI – First Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Set
This next set is the first set proper that is MJER and may also be referred to as Shoden. Whereas Seitei is strictly regimented requiring totally precise movements and an adherence to what is written down in the ZNKR manual, Omori allows for a little more flexibility within each form. All but the second last kata are done from kneeling and they will certainly provide ‘more realistic’ scenarios that a Japanese swordsman of yore may have been faced with. There is more emphasis on a direct killing approach.
5. Yae Gaki
6. Uke Nagashi
8. Tsuke Komi
9. Tsuke Kage
10. Oi Kaze
11. Nuki Uchi
EISHIN– Second Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Set
This next set is done from a half kneeling posture called Tate Hiza and may also be referred to as Chuden. This set is older than Omori and is a very no-nonsense, direct style. Again the emphasis is less on being inch perfect and more on effectiveness, directness and making certain that you cut your opponent/s before they cut you.
1. Yuko Gumo
2. Tora No Issoku
4. Uke Gumo
7. Uroku Gaeshi
8. Nami Gaeshi
9. Take Otoshi
OKU – Third Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Sets
This next set is actually three (sometimes noted as four) sets and may also be referred to as Okuden. They can appear simpler than those previously studied and there is again very much a directness about the style and the ‘situations’ that form the basis of each kata have an air of real possibility to them. Situations include fighting whilst walking downstairs, fighting in a crowd etc rather than always fighting in a dojo. The reason for some claiming four sets is that the three formats of Itomagoi are done kneeling and some will list them in a separate set rather than include them in the standing (Tachi) set.
Oku -Tate Hiza
2. Sune Gakoi
3. To Zume
4. To Waki
5. Shiho Giri
8. Tora Bashira
1. Yuke Zuri
2. Tsure Dachi
3. Suma Kiri
6. Yuki Chigai
7. Sode Suri Gaeshi
9. Uke Nagashi
1. Haya Name
4. Shiho Barai