The Origin and Tradition of Iaido
The Ancestor Who Restored Iai
In the 2nd year of the Koji era at the end of the warring states (Sengoku Jidai) period (1556), Asano Tamijimaru undertook 100 days of spiritual austerities at Hayashizaki Myojin Shrine (Kumano Myojin Shrine) in Tateoka, Dewa Province, and after this period of working diligently and enduring hardships, he received inspiration from the gods with regard to the art of drawing the sword. He named this style Hayashizaki Muso-ryu, and upon coming of age, changed his name to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu.
Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu, who laid the foundations of iaido, is revered as the ancestor who restored iai, and since he received the sacred teachings that founded the original school, various schools of iaido have flourished, with other branches being born and new schools and styles arising.
He is enshrined in Nihon-Issha Hayashizaki Shrine in Hayashizaki District, Murayama City, Yamagata Prefecture (Kumano Iai Ryo Shrine).
■Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu was born in Tenbun 11 (1542). Opinion is divided regarding the year of his death. He was born in Hayashizaki Village, Tateoka-zai, Ushu-murayama District (present-day Oaza-Hayashizaki Village, Murayama City, Yamagata Prefecture). His childhood name was Asano Tamijimaru. He underwent spiritual austerities at Hayashizaki Myojin Shrine in order to defeat an enemy of his father and learned the secret of iai, then set out on a journey to seek revenge on the enemy in Eiroku 2 (1559). After successfully exacting vengeance, it is told that he educated followers such as Tamiya Heibei and Nagano Muraku Nyudo.
(Excerpt from Hayashizaki Myojin and Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu, published by the Iai Shinbukai Foundation)
After being founded by Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu (the 1st Headmaster), the way of Hayashizaki Muso-ryu was passed down from generation to generation, producing many experts. In particular, the Seito 7th Headmaster, Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Hidenobu, earned renown as the greatest master since the founder, an exquisite, divinely skilled swordsman whose technique was unsurpassed in the past or present. Hasegawa added original techniques to the traditional waza, renamed the school Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, and later founded a separate school, known as Hasegawa Eishin-ryu, Hasegawa-ryu, or Eishin-ryu. He brought the school of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu to Tosa Province, where it would remain until the time of the Seito 19th Headmaster, Fukui Harumasa Tekkotsu Sensei, without leaving the province.
Lineage of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaido: Past Seito Headmasters
1st Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu
2nd Tamiya Heibei Shigemasa
3rd Nagano Muraku Nyudo Kinrosai
4th Todo Gunbei Mitsushige
5th Arikawa Seizaemon Munetsugu
6th Banno Danemonnojo Nobusada
7th Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Hidenobu
8th Arai Seitetsu Kiyonobu
9th Hayashi Rokudayu Morimasa
10th Hayashi Yasudayu Masamoto
11th Oguro Motoemon Kiyokatsu
12th Hayashi Masunojo Masamori
13th Yoda Manzai Norikatsu
14th Hayashi Yadayu Masamoto
15th Tanimura Kamenojo Takakatsu
16th Goto Magobei Masasuke
17th Oe Masaji
18th Hokiyama Namio
19th Fukui Harumasa
20th Kono Minoru Hyakuren
21st Fukui Torao
22nd Ikeda Takashi
23rd Fukui Masataka
Seito 20th Headmaster and Seito 21st Headmaster
As mentioned above, for a long time, until the Seito 19th Headmaster, the style of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu was passed on down the generations without leaving Tosa Province, but at the start of the Showa Era (1926), the Osaka branch of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai association, recognizing the true value and importance of iaido, advocated its practice along with kendo and judo.
From then, the Headmaster was invited from Kochi Prefecture each year, and for around 20 years, he held training sessions that were a great success, with around 20,000 people taking part. It is told they were unrivalled among martial arts associations across Japan.
At that time, based on the profound discretion and firm conviction of the 19th Headmaster, it was resolved that the Seito 20th Headmaster would move to Osaka Prefecture, and on April 14, 1950, in the presence of the gods at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Osaka City, Hanshi Kono Minoru Hyakuren Sensei succeeded to the position of Seito 20th Headmaster, with the sacred sword being conferred upon him and a solemn succession ceremony being held. On May 21, 1974, due to the unexpected passing of the 20th Headmaster, his leading disciple, Hanshi Fukui Torao, was unanimously recommended by the school’s senior sensei as the next Headmaster. On the propitious date of February 11, 1975, in the presence of the gods at Inaba Shrine in Gifu Prefecture, he inherited the declaration of succession that passes on the title of Seito Headmaster from generation to generation as well as the original scroll and ceremonial sword of iaido, and a grand succession ceremony was held with solemn majesty.
The reason that Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu is said to be the fundamental iai style is that it has been passed down from one generation to the next without interruption in an unbroken line from the founder, as described above. There are now people all over Japan practicing this discipline in unparalleled numbers, due to this historical pedigree.
(c) Esaka Seigen