There is a saying: “The sword and mind are one”. This unity of focus and awareness to bring the sword wholly under the mind’s control without conscious thought but rather as an extension of intent. This is done by cultivating a calm spirit amidst great turbulence. Finding the confidence inside oneself, dedicating the time to proper training to allow this to occur is very rewarding – it changes ones life and brings greater joy to the journey.
From another point of view: Iai is drawing the katana (sword) quickly to defend oneself from attacks from any direction and the mindset it take to make that possible.
Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu
A short history
Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu or Eishin Ryu is 500 year old koryu (old school) founded my Yayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shingenobu (1546 – 1621). It is the ryu which created Iai, the fast draw and is the most commonly practiced form of iai in the world. The name, like most ryu, has had various names throughout its history. Eishin comes from the 7th Soke – Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Hidenobu. The school was called Hasegawa Eishin Ryu. The Eishin is another reading of the kanji for Hidenobu.
Iai translate to something like the unification of mind, body, spirit, technique, awareness into the quick drawing of the sword.
Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu translates to the peerless direct heart to heart transmission of the tradition of Eishin. Thus Eishin Ryu is transmitted from Sensei’s Heart to Deshi’s Heart (teacher to student). While there are many scrolls that various Soke have written thru the ages – there has be a deliberate de-emphasis of written and photographic media which would draw away from this direct transmission. Eishin Ryu practitioners never dueled. This was expressly forbidden. Araki Ryu and Katori Shinto Ryu likewise forbid their bugeisha to be involved in egocentric dueling. One also must remember the Art was adapted and refined by various of it’s soke to deal with the c hallenges of warfare at the time. Koryu were dynamic, eclectic streams of knowledge passed from teacher to student. Eishin Ryu originally had bojutsu, jujutsu, yari and honawa (arresting ropes) but these and perhaps several others skills were lost over the years. Oe Sensei was said to have studied the bojutsu of Eishin Ryu.
The founder of Eishin Ryu – Hayashizaki Jinsuke was born in Kanagawa Prefecture. His life is full of fictionalized stories and many arts have added him to their lineage. He was raised in a time of constant warfare. He was retainer of the Mogami Clan of Oshu in the Ashikaga Era (1336-1576) It is said that his father died in battle and in order to take revenge committed himself to serious training. He train earnestly, and as was the custom, did 100 days ascetic training at the local Hayashizaki Myojin Shrine to alternate between training and mediation. He is said to have received divine inspiration about his sword (muso ken) from the god of Kashima for a new technique of drawing the sword and attacking in one motion. Kashima and Katori Shrines are the two oldest sites for the patron deities of war. Thus iai was born. He also did more austere training session at Hikawa Shrine for 1000 days. The style at this time was most commonly called Shinmei Muso Ryu. Hayashizaki Soke went on two Musa Shugyu (austere training going from dojo to dojo) during his life. The second started when he was 73 years old – he never returned.
Hayashizaki Sensei had many students some who started their own schools. Tamiya Heibei Shigemasa was the second headmaster and the school was called Tamiya Ryu. He would be teacher to the first three Tokugawa Shoguns.
It was the 7th soke (headmaster) who gave his name to Eishin Ryu that remains to this day. He also made Eishin Ryu well known around Japan. Hasegawa Sensei created many new waza and adapted techniques from the tachi (sword worn cutting edge down outside armour) to katana (sword worn cutting edge up in obi). He added the Tatehiza Kata to the curriculum.
The 9th Soke, Hayashi Rokudaya Morimasa was listed as Chief Cook in the Yamanouchi Clan. Eishin Ryu has sense always been tied to the Yamanouchi Clan . Hayashi Soke also schooled in archery, horseback riding, spear and calligraphy & music. He studied Shinkage Itto Ryu from which several tatehiza kata come from. Hayashi Soke added the formal basic kata from the seiza position. These came from Omori Ryu which were created by Omori Rokurozaemon Masamitsu who was a student of Ogasawara Ryu Reishiki, a school of etiquette that greatly influences how things are done even today in Japan. Omori Sensei was at one time a student of Eishin Ryu but had been expelled for unknown personal reasons and later taken back by Hayashi Soke. There is also some close interaction with Katori Shinto Ryu at this time. Hayashi Sensei brought Eishin Ryu to Kochi and its headmaster from that time on lived in Kochi.
It was under the 11th soke’s charge that the school was split into two lines later known as Shimomura-ha and Tanimura-ha. Some say Shimomura-ha was mostly for the samurai class and the Shimomura-ha more for the Goshi (rural warrior) class while others claim this was due to restricted movement around Japan at the time – the need for an eastern and western soke to guide each area. However, it is generally agreed the goshi were less refined but more battlefield ready and tested. While there are some variations in how the kata are performed – they are minor points.
While there were many students of Oe Sensei who after his death claimed the title Soke, the orthodox lineage is said to be Hogiyama Namio Sensei. He was a close follower of Oe Sensei, with him during his bout with cancer and said to have received the seal of the ryu.
Tosa (the old name for Kochi) was very instrumental in the Meiji Restoration (1868) where the Tokugawa Shogunate lost power and the Meiji Emperor restored to power. It was a move from semi-independent feudal lords to a nation state. By 1912 Japan had gone from a weak primarily agricultural feudal state to a nation with a central bureaucratic government with a constitution, parliament, well developed transportation and communication system, a highly educated population free of class restrictions with a growing industrial base and a powerful army & navy. Were all these changes good, that is not for me to say but it was due in large part to the efforts of the men of Tosa.
Prior to WWII, Eishin Ryu opposed the militarization of Japan. But once war broke out they served and their numbers decimated. Kochi was also firebombed during the war destroying 55% of the city.
It is in post WWII Japan that Fukui Harumasa, the 20th Soke and a student of Oe Sensei, has to lead Eishin Ryu. In a time of poverty, a lack of respect for Japanese traditions and the few men left to train – that Eishin Ryu faced a huge setback. Fukui Sensei was a Judo Instructor and Swim Coach at Kochi Commercial High School. Due to the few students left with he finally decided on Koono Hyakuren of Osaka. The arrangement was that Koono Sensei would come and life in Kochi. Once Koono was initiated he did not move to Kochi as promised. More importantly his ego took over and he wrote books, made movies, charged money for teaching (was know to change kata so he could get more money) and sold some 20 sokeship to students that would take effect up his death. This was a very sad time for Eishin Ryu.
Full of shame Fukui Sensei turned to Takeshima Toshio, a national level swimmer in the distance freestyle events, concert guitarist and Eishin Ryu practitioner. The young man was too young, a mere 32 years old, and had not yet completed his training. Yet there was something very special about the man. Fukui Sense approached him to see if he was willing to devote himself to Eishin Ryu. After some thought Takeshima Sensei agreed. He set his guitar aside, vowing never to play again (he never did) and devote himself to iai. Fukui Sensei helped complete the young man’s training then sent him to 6 other teachers of various koryu with instructions on what he was to gain from each. It is in this way that Koono Sensei’s sokeship was revoked and Takeshima Toshio became the 20th Soke of Tosa no Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu.
Takeshima Toshio Sensei lead Eishin Ryu from post war famine to a rejuvenation of Tosa Iai during his nearly 40 years of leadership. His great skill as both a practitioner and teacher helped raise a strong crop of deshi. His openness and inclusiveness, yet adherence to the high quality standards Eishin Ryu had been know for, lead to the enthusiastic training with many schools from other Eishin Ryu branches coming back to join the Tosa group.
[for more information about Takeshima Sensei see: Personalities>Iai>Takeshima]
Takeshima Soke while raising the numbers and overall level of skill of all the practitioners of Eishin Ryu also trained 4 replacements. Muranaga Sensei was without a doubt the finest choice and is the currently the 21st soke. Muranga Sensei is a retired Japanese Literature teacher.
- Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu, founder
- Tamiya Heibei Shigemasa, 2nd generation
- Nagano Muraku Nyūdō Kinrosai, 3rd generation
- Todo Gunbei Mitsushige, 4th generation
- Arikawa Seizaemon Munetsugu, 5th generation
- Banno Danemonnojō Nobusada, 6th generation
- Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Hidenobu (Eishin), 7th generation
- Arai Seitetsu Kiyonobu, 8th generation
- Hayashi Rokudayū Morimasa, 9th generation
- Hayashi Yasudayū Masatomo, 10th generation
- Ōguro Motoemon Kiyokatsu, 11th generation
- Hayashi Masunojō Masanori, 12th generation
- Yoda Manzō Norikatsu, 13th generation
- Hayashi Yadayū Masamoto, 14th generation
- Tanimura Kamenojō Takakatsu, 15th generation
- Gotō Magobei Masasuke (?-1897), 16th generation
- Ōe Masamichi (1852–1927), 17th generation
- Hokiyama Namio (1891–1935), 18th generation
- Fukui Harumasa (1884–1971), 19th generation
- Koono Hyakuren (1899 – 1974), 20th generation revoked
- Takeshima Toshio (1929 – 2007), 20th generation
- Muranaga Hidekuni (1948 – ) , 21st generation
Matsuyoshi Teisuke Hisanari, 12th generation
Yamakawa Kyuzo Yukikatsu, 13th generation
Shomomura Moichi Sadamasa, 14th generation
Branches from Oe Sensei other than orthodox reading of Hokiyama Sensei
1. Yamauchi Toyotake
2. Masaoka Kazumi
Miura Takeyuki Hirefusa