MJER History

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Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu

The Meaning of the Ryu’s Name

It has been said that the term “tenka muso,” (“no equal under heaven,”) was granted to the ryu’s founder, Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto Shigenobu, by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, upon a demonstration of his art before this regent. The art Hayashizaki founded between 1601 and 1615 was named Shinmei Muso Ryu Batto Jutsu, and was also known as Shin Muso Hayashizaki Ryu.

The current name of the style, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu, translates as “the peerless/without equal, direct transmission, Eishin style Sword Art”. ‘Muso’ refers to the ‘peerless’ title acquired by Hayashizaki (‘muso’ means without equal), Jikiden means ‘direct transmission’ (from master to student, and from Hayashizaki Jinsuke until today), ‘Eishin’ comes from the name of the seventh master of the style, Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin (the master who codified the system and who left for us much of the curriculum as we know it today), ‘Ryu’ means a style or tradition, and ‘Iaijutsu’ refers to the sword art itself. The last word requires a little extra comment. Iai breaks down into two parts, ‘i’ and ‘ai’. ‘I’ (pronounced ‘ee’) refers to all the influences affecting someone, to the immediate features and facts of any given situation, both internal and external, to existence itself, and ‘ai’ is a meeting or coming together. So ‘iai’ is really a very esoteric phrase, and implies the unifying of mind, body, spirit, technique, awareness, etc. In a sword drawing context this bringing together of technique, awareness, external factors such as the enemy and environment, and the swordsman’s mind and spirit is applied to each waza. It may be easily seen how such practice can have a positive spiritual benefit for practitioners, and indeed Hayashizaki himself is reputed to have considered his swordsmanship as a vehicle to more than just physical prowess.

Origins of the Ryu

Hayashizaki, who lived through the Momoyama period when the three unifiers, Oda, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu conquered Japan, is the man widely credited with the origination of the sword drawing arts, although as facts are rare he may in fact have been the first great practitioner and revolutioniser of an emerging combat art form – more than two hundred styles were to emerge from his original inspiration and skill. Although the originator of the root style that became MJER, and a number of other styles, he is a relatively mysterious figure. Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu is usually said to have come from Sagami Province (Kanagawa today), which is supported by a number of researchers, although other origins are also promoted by some. [The Uno Mataji Sensei Den: Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iai states that he came from the Okushu region (the location is currently in Hayashizaki district, Murayama City, Yamagata Prefecture) in northern Japan, whereas the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten says that Jinsuke's family was from Ohbayashiyama in Yamato Province, and were descended from the priest Ikebo.]

Hayashizaki said to have traveled to Oshu in modern day Yamagata, where he is believed to have received divine inspiration about iai, particularly the use of a longish sword and handle, after undergoing ritual austerities and training for 100 days at Hayashizaki Myojin shrine in Okura. The Godaiki claims that the deity at the shrine was a manifestation of the god of Kashima. The Kashima shrine, along with the Katori shrine, were considered in the most ancient of days as sites for patron deities of northern warriors on their way to subdue northern tribes and rebellions. Hayashizaki Jinsuke, who renamed himself after the profound experience, received inspiration in a vision about his sword, and called it muso ken ("sword inspired by a vision"); which is why the name of his style soon became known as the Muso Hayashizaki Ryu.

Popular legends abound about Hayashizaki 's family origins and later personal history, although many of these are obscure and/or unverifiable. One popular myth is that while still a young man his father was killed by another samurai, who fled the province he was living in. Hayashizaki then devoted himself to avenging his father's death, training incessantly as a youth, until his training culminated in a vision at the Hayashizaki Myojin shrine. He then fulfilled his vendetta by killing his father's murderer in the streets of Kyoto. It's a colorful story, but one that most Japanese researchers discount as legend.

Hayashizaki lived in Bushu (modern day Saitaima) for 18 years, during which time he also performed austerities at the Hikawa shrine for several years. He is said to have traveled around the country after perfecting his style, and his students therefore are from different regions of Japan. Many of them started their own systems, which is why he is considered not so much as the "father" of all iai, but the person who most popularized this art and was the proselytizer and inspiration for a great many current iai systems. No one knows what became of Hayashizaki, and he seems to have disappeared into the remote provinces.

Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin (Hidenobu) learnt the style between 1716 and 1735, in Edo (Tokyo). He is reputed to have been the equal of Hayashizaki in the sword skills, and he has left a huge mark on Japanese swordsmanship in general, and MJER in particular. He is said to have been the 19th headmaster of a school called Muso Jikiden Ryu, which included the sword arts, other weapons and yawara or jujutsu. Whatever his actual relationship to Muso Jikiden ryu, he was inspired by it to rename his sword drawing art Muso Jikden Eishin Ryu. Whether accurate or not, it is said that his art became popular during his lifetime in Tosa, his place of birth.

In the late 1600s, Hayashi Rokutayu Morimasa, the ninth headmaster of the school, took the art from Edo to Tosa prefecture in Shikoku, where it was well received by the goshi, country warriors. The Tosa goshi, with the support of the Lords of Tosa, maintained the art in a vigorous and practical form until it again was returned to the mainland in the late 19th and early 20th century.

One of the influences on Morimasa had been Omori Rokurozaemon Masamitsu, a student said to have been expelled from the school by Eishin. Omori was a student of Ogasawara Buke Reiho, or etiquette, as well as the Yagyu Shinkage school of sword. The Shinkage Ryu had a set of five Iai techniques called the Saya no Uchi Batto Gohan. Masamitsu developed a set of techniques, later called Omori Ryu, which were initiated from the formal seated posture called seiza. For this innovation (and probably an apology) Eishin re-admitted him to the school. On the death of the 11th headmaster, Oguro Motoemon Kiyokatsu, the school’s succession fell into dispute, and two branches emerged, the Shimomura-ha and the Tanimura-ha, named after the 14th and 15th headmasters respectively of each line. Shimomura was a prestigious warrior of the classical type, while Tanimura was a goshi of Tosa, famous for his bajutsu (horsemanship). Shimomura-ha eventually led to the development, through the auspices of Nakayama Hakudo, of Muso Shinden Ryu, a closely related style to MJER, which is the style brought to the present via the Tanimura-ha.

The 17th headmaster, Oe Masaji Shikei formalized the use of the name Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, and also incorporated the 11 Omori Ryu techniques into the curriculum. Thus to the original tate-hiza and standing techniques a set of seiza waza were added. Oe Masamichi codified the style into Shoden, the seiza techniques, Chuden, the tatehiza techniques, and Okuden, with its two parts, suwari-waza and tachiwaza. These sets of techniques, along with the Tachiuchi set and assorted other leftover katas, make over a hundred techniques.

The succession of the style again fell into dispute after Oe Masaji, with three branches descending from those who could make claim to be the 18th headmaster, Yamauchi Toyotake, Hokiyama Namio and Masaoka Kazumi, all men of Tosa.

Lineage of the Ryu

1. Founder: Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu: Muso Hayashizaki-ryu
2. Tamiya Heibei Shigemasa (founder of the Tamiya-ryu)
3. Nagano Muraku Nyudo Kinrosai (founder of Muraku-ryu)
4. Momo Gunbei Mitsushige
5. Arikawa Shozaemon Munetsugu
6. Banno Danemon no Jo Nobusada
7. Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin
8. Arai Seitetsu Kiyonobu
9. Hayashi Rokudayu Morimasa
10. Hayashi Yasudayu Seisho
11. Oguro Motoemon Kiyokatsu

12th generation branches (Tanimura & Shimomura)

From the 12th generation the system divides into two related styles, the Tanimura-ha ("ha" means "faction") and the Shimomura-ha. The Tanimura-ha eventually develops into the Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, while the Shimomura-ha, through the auspices of Nakayama Hakudo, becomes known as the Muso Shinden-ryu.

Tanimura Ha Shimomura Ha
12. Hayashi Masu (Masa) no Jo Masanari (Seishi) 12. Matsuyoshi Teisuke Hisanari
13. Yoda (Manzai, Manzo, Sansho) Yorikatsu 13. Yamakawa Kyuzo Yukikatsu
14. Hayashi Yadayu (Seiki) Masayori (Masataka) 14. Shimomura Moichi Sadamasa
15. Tanimura Kame no Jo Yorikatsu (Sugio)
16. Goto Magobei Masasuke (Seiryo)
17. Oe Masaji (Shikei)

18th generation branches (Yamauchi, Hokiyama & Masaoka)

From the 18th generation the system divides into three main branches, the Yamauchi, Hokiyama and Masaoka lines. This occurred due to the 17th master, Oe Masaji, not officially appointing a successor.

Yamauchi Ha Hokiyama Ha Masaoka Ha
18. Yamauchi Toyotake 18. Hokiyama Namio 18. Masaoka Kazumi
19. Kono Kanemitsu 19. Fukui Harumasa Tekkotsu 19. Narise Sakahiro
20. Onoe Masamitsu 20. Miura Takeyuki Hirefusa
21. Sekiguchi Takaaki (Komei)

20th generation Hokiyama Ha branches

Whether true or not I have read that Fukui Harumasa appointed Kono Hyakuren 20th Soke on the condition that he moved to Kochi prefecture from Osaka. The Soke of MJER had always been a Tosa man. He did not move to Kochi... and so Takeshima Toshio was appointed 20th generation Soke.

Hokiyama Ha Branches
20. Takeshima Toshio 20. Kono Minoru Hyakuren
21. Muranaga Hidekami 21. Fukui Torao
22. Ikeda Takashi Seiko