Iaido and Kenjutsu History

Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido is one of the most widely practiced schools of Iai (Sword Drawing art)and Kenjutsu in the world. It claims an unbroken lineage dating back from the sixteenth century to the early 20th century. One of the reasons is because the 17th undisputed headmaster, Oe Masamichi, awarded at least 16 licenses of full transmission. This resulted in multiple legitimate branches and teachers. It is this reason that Eishin Ryu still thrives.

Sensei Driscoll leading an Eishin Ryu Waza

The founder of the earliest Iai school was Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu.(1546-1621). He is considered the founder of sword drawing by most historians. Many of the historical details of Hayashizaki’s life are unclear and widely made up of legend due to wartime. According to legend, Hayashizaki’s father was killed and to take revenge he began training. He went to the Hayashizaki Meijin shrine to pray for guidance and received divine inspiration for a new technique of drawing the sword and cutting in one movement. Legend says that he eventually defeated his father’s killer and got his revenge.

Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu

Hayashizaki’s art has had many names since it was established, such as Hayashizaki-ryu. It is considered the foundation for many of the major styles of sword Drawing practiced today, in particular the style we practice, Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū.

The seventh generation headmaster of Hayashizaki’s school, Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Hidenobu (Eishin), was an important headmaster. His techniques evolved the art from the Tachi (long sword) to the contemporary shorter Katana. His influence and adaptation led to the style being named Hasegawa Eishin-ryū. It was also referred to as Hasegawa-ryū or simply Eishin-ryū as it is today.

Students in Seiza posiiton

The ninth Headmaster, Hayashi Rokudayū Morimasa, introduced a set of techniques executed from the formal seated position seiza. They are said to be influenced by Ogasawara-ryū etiquette, which starts from seiza (Knee sitting position). They were taught alongside the Eishin-ryu techniques and is the reason many folks see this very popular Seiza position for Eishin ryu. This is a also a very popular position for other hand arts such as Kempo and Aikido

One of the most important headmasters was the seventeenth, Ōe Masaji. Born in Asahi (nakasuka) Tosa in 1852. Ōe studied Kokuri-ryū and Oishi Shinkage-ryu kenjutsu along with Shimomura-ha Eishin-ryū. At the age of 15 he took part in the Battle of Toba–Fushimi, following which he studied Tanimura-ha Eishin-ryū. Ōe inherited leadership of the Tanimura-ha, becoming its 17th headmaster. He combined the school’s teachings with those of the Shimomura-ha and restructured the curriculum. Ōe reduced the number of techniques and reorganized them into the Seiza (Shoden)Tachihiza (Chūden)Okuiai (Okuden) and kumitachi waza sets practised today.

Oe- Masaji 17th Grandmaster

Although he retained the original techniques, he changed the names of some waza to aid understanding.[10] Ōe named the re-organized school Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū during the Taishō era (1912-1926). In 1924 he became the second person to be awarded Hanshi in Iaidō by the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai. He died on April 18, 1926. His many students went on to spread Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū Iai beyond Tosa and throughout Japan. He is one of the reasons Eishin-Ryu is widely practiced today.

Eishin-ryū uses a system of indiscriminate transmission, allowing anyone in possession of full-transmission to award licenses to any number of his students Therefore, it is possible that there were multiple, unlisted holders of menkyo kaiden, known in Eishin-ryū as Kongen no Maki, in any generation. Due in part to Ōe Masaji’s more open and inclusive approach to teaching Eishin-ryū, the lineages of groups practicing the art are fairly diverse and complex.

Our club seeks to maintain the preservation of the teachings of the late Masayuki Shimabukuro Sensei through our teachers in the Sei Kosho Shorei Kai International to new generations of Martial Art Students in order to preserve these arts. Feel free to contact us with any questions at all about our sword program and it’s modern day benefits for you!

(All Historical info on this site through research within the
Sei Kosho Shorei Kai International and other on-line resources. feel free to follow any links provided.)