The History of Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu Iaijutsu

The genealogy of Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu Iaijutsu
Calligraphy by the Grandmaster, Miura Takeyuki Hanshi

The style of iaijutsu described here is called Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu and can trace its history back over 450 years! In fact, the style itself means “Unequalled Direct-Lineage Eishin-Style Iaijutsu” as  developed by the seventh grandmaster, Hasegawa Eishin. But really the history begins earlier with Hayashizaki Jinsuke.

Hayashizaki Jinsuke

Hayashizaki Jinsuke, or sometimes Hayashizaki Shigenobu, was born in the year 1549 to a samurai family under the ruling Minamoto clan. After his father was killed in a duel, young Hayashizaki vowed to avenge his father’s death. Knowing he would need a significant advantage to defeat his father’s killer, Hayashizaki entered the local Shinto shrine, Hayashizaki Jinja. There he spent 100 days in prayer and practice to develop the techniques of drawing and cutting in a single motion that we now call iaijutsu or iaido. Hayashizaki prevailed in avenging his father’s death, and his style of swordsmanship came to be known as Hayashizaki-Ryu. The Hayashizaki-Ryu style used long curved swords called tachi which were worn suspended from the belt with the edge downward. In the Sengoku period, less than fifty years after Hayashizaki’s victory, the most significant change in the history of iaijutsu occured: swords were shortened and produced with less curvature in the blade. The new katana was worn tucked into the belt with the edge up.The new sword design and change in fashion then required a change in technique. Hasegawa Eishin, the seventh-generation successor to Hayashizaki-Ryu modified the style for the new katana and was so successful that the style became known afterwards as Eishin-Ryu. Although the lineage of Eishin-Ryu has remained unbroken from the time of Hayashizaki Jinsuke down to the present grandmaster, Miura Takeyuki Hanshi, the style has not been entirely free of controversy. Through the years, several grandmasters have founded their own styles of iaido, the earliest being Tamiya Heibei, who is considered the second grandmaster of Eishin-Ryu, when it was still called Hayashizaki-Ryu.

In the late eighteenth century a major schism occurred within the ranks of Eishin-Ryu. The 10th grandmaster, Hayashi Yasudayu, and the 11th grandmaster, Oguro Motoemon, both died shorlty after one another in 1776. Following their deaths, two branches of Eishin-Ryu arose, each of which considered its grandmaster to be the 12th successor to the Eishin-Ryu lineage.

One of these branches, Shimomura-ha, faded into oblivion earlier this century, while Tanimura-ha has survived to the present.

In more recent times, another controversy has arisen. When the 17th grandmaster, Oe Masamichi, died in 1927, two of his students separately carried on the Eishin-Ryu tradition of Tanimura-ha. Masaoka Kazumi was widely considered the best swordsman among Oe’s students, and most members of the style gravitated to him as 18th grandmaster after Oe’s death. Another student, who had personally attended to Oe during his battle with cancer, came into possession of the style’s credentials, and many chose to follow him as 18th grandmaster. As a result, two branches  now claim to carry on the traditions and lineage of Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu.

However, it was Masaoka Kazumi (of Oe’s and Sensei Shimabukuro’s lineage) who was invited to represent Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu Iaijutsu when the major iaido styles convened to jointly create the Seitei Iai Kata for the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei (All-Japan Kendo Federation).

In addition, Masaoka’s successor, Narise Sakahiro, was elected to a remarkable three terms of office as president of the Dai-Nippon Iaido Yaegaki-Kai, the most widely recognized iaido organization of its time. Currently, the Dai-Nippon Butoku-Kai, Japan’s oldest and most prestigious martial arts organization, recognizes Miura Takeyuki Hanshi, as Narise’s successor to be the 20th grandmaster, as the official representative of the style, and has unanimously awarded him a 10th dan Hanshi ranking, the highest of any living member of the Butoku-Kai.  

Miura Takeyuki Hanshi

The Grandmaster, Miura Takeyuki

The 20th grandmaster of Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu Iaijutsu, Miura Takeyuki Hanshi, was born

January 5, 1922 in Shimane-ken, Japan. At the age of eleven, he entered the Budo Senmon Gakko, a martial arts training school, where he began his study of kendo, the sword-fighting sport based upon samurai swordsmanship. Although it is probable that he studied elements of iaido during his kendo training or under other instructors, Miura Hanshi began his study of Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu Iaijutsu in 1959 under arise Sakahiro, who later became the 19th grandmaster of the style, and also received instruction from the 18th grandmaster, Masaoka  Kazumi. Only a year later, Miura Hanshi began his training in Shindo Muso-Ryu Jodo under Nakajima Asakichi, who was the most senior disciple of the 25th grandmaster of jodo, Shimizu Takatsugu, under whom he also trained. Following this, Miura Hanshi began studying Koryu Kakushu Bujutsu(“Ancient Samurai Weapons”) in 1965 under the 3rd grandmaster of Enshin-Ryu, Kobashi Nikkan. This system includes a variety of traditional samurai weapons. In May, 1970, Miura Hanshi undertook the study of Kukishin-Ryu Bojutsu under the instruction of Kano Takehiko, the 11th grandmaster of Yanagi-Ryu. Culminating more than forty years of martial arts training, including over fifteen years of iaido and other samurai weapons, Miura Hanshi founded the Nippon Kobudo Jikishin-Kai in May 1975.

He established its Hombu Dojo (Headquarters) on the grounds of Yasaka Jinja, in the Yasaka District of Neyagawa City in Osaka. Among the rankings currently held by Miura Hanshi are 8th dan in Koryu Kakushu Bujutsu from the Zen Nippon Kobudo Sogo Renmei (awarded in May, 1975), and 9th dan Hanshi in iaido conferred in April, 1992 by the Dai-Nippon Butoku-Kai. Miura Hanshi is held in such high esteem that in 1977 he was named 8th dan in Toyama- Ryu Batto-jutsu, the modern military form of swordsmanship, without having requested such ranking or even joining the organization. In addition to being it highest ranking living member as 10th dan, the Dai-Nippon Botuko-Kai has designated Miura Hanshi as iincho (Executive Director) for Kobudo Shinsa (rank testing in weapons), Kobudo Kenshu (weapons seminars), and Taikai (championships). In April 1985, the Butoku-Kai named Miura Hanshi “Yushusho” (“Most Valuable Member”), and he has served on its Board of Directors since April, 1990. During his many years of teaching, Miura Hanshi has also been recognized for his community contributions with such awards as Honorary Mayor of Kyoto City in April 1988 and Honorary Governor of Kyoto-Fu in April 1993. 

The 21th grandmaster Shimabukuro Masayuki Hanshi

Sensei Shimabukuro performing Tsuka-Ate

Masayuki Shimabukuro was born in March, 1948 in Osaka, Japan. His interest in martial arts began as a teenager, when he studied judo, karate-do, Okinawan kobudo weapons and other traditional Japanese martial arts. He achieved dan ranking in several of these arts before focusing his attention predominantly on iaijutsu, the art of samurai swordsmanship. Since relocating to the United States in 1976, Sensei “Shima” has taught martial arts at his own dojo, as well as conducting numerous demonstrations, seminars, and television appearances. In addition to his stature as a leading authority on samurai swordsmanship, he is a highly accomplished and respected karate- ka, and is president of the International Shito-Ryu Karate-do Jikishin-Kai.

Sensei Shimabukuro is presently 8th dan in Muso Jikiden Eishin- Ryu Iaijutsu, and holds the coveted title of Hanshi. As chairman of the Kokusai Nippon Budao Kai/ Nippon Kobudo Jikishin-Kai USA and International, he is responsible for disseminating Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu Iaijutsu and maintaining its high standards of instruction in all countries outside of Japan. His duties regularly take him throughout North, Central, and South America conducting iaijutsu demonstrations, teaching seminars, certifying dojo, and training iaijutsu instructors. Hanshi Shimabukuro is appointed by the DNBK as Kenshoin for all Iaido outside of Japan.

Marc Mebis, Sensei – Masayuki Shimabukuro, Hanshi – Carl Long, Kyoshi