Time to get back to the history of the arts practiced in Sei Do Kai. Today I will start on Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu or MJER, yes I know I don’t like acronyms but I also don’t like typing all that much.
Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu is a school of iaido. The deep history as told in class with no notes or references is as follows. Oh, and a lot of this is not well documented. A fellow by the name of Hayashizaki Jinsuke lost his father in a duel with another samurai. This was in the mid-1500s. Jinsuke studied quite hard and came up with the idea of cutting directly from the scabbard, which is the working definition of iaido. If your sword is out and ready, it’s usually called Kendo/jutsu.
I have no clue if Jinsuke ever killed the man who killed his father, I suspect the story says he did. He went on a musha shugyo (wandering around getting into trouble) at the end of his life and disappeared. Checking just now I see that there are some amazingly detailed descriptions of his life out there on the net. Go look them up and check sources while you’re at it. I will continue with the story as it concerns us, which is the school itself.
Jinsuke had many students as the lineage tells us, but the first several of them founded their own schools, such as the Tamiya ryu, the Muraku ryu. The next important person to consider is Hasagawa Eishin, the 7th generation headmaster. He organized the school into the forms we know today. This would be around the beginning of the 1600s, with him becoming headmaster in 1610 according to my research. Since Jinsuke died in 1621 I wonder about that.
Eishin probably introduced some of the tate hiza (one knee up, seated) kata. He had a student called Omori Rokurozaemon who did something naughty enough to be kicked out of the school. Omori developed some kata from seiza and the 9th headmaster let him back in. Hayashi Rokudayu (9) was a chef for the lord from Tosa and through him the school moved from Edo to Tosa (modern day Kochi). There it remained until the 17th headmaster Oe Masamichi reorganized the school into its present form. Popular histories say the school split into two lines, the Tanimura and the Shimomura at the 11th headmaster. One of them for the old rulers of the domain, and one for the new daimyo. All sorts of fun things like this abound, don’t worry too much about it. For interest, the Tokyo line is called the Muso Shinden Ryu and came from the teachings of Nakayama Hakudo who studied in Tosa, mostly in the Shimomura line.
From Oe Masamichi (Tanimura ha line) there were many folks with full license and as a result, many, many folks claim to be the legitimate descendents. I believe I have met about five folks who claim to be the headmaster. Just ignore all that stuff, MJER is too big, too scattered, to be contained under one headmaster any more. This is not a bad thing.
The lineage for Sei Do Kai comes from Oe Masamichi through two pathways, one is through the Shum Phu Kai in Osaka, originally the Yae Gaki Kai, the place where Eishin Ryu first came back out of Tosa. Ohmi sensei studied in this dojo before moving to North America and eventually settling in the Toronto area where Kim Taylor met him and started practicing with him. Prior to meeting Ohmi sensei I had discovered iaido at an Aikido seminar in 1983 where Mitsuzuka Takeshi taught us Omori ryu from Muso Shinden. I practiced that for several years until meeting Ohmi sensei in 1987. You can get the whole history in the “Big Book of Iaido” series.
Having studied with Ohmi sensei for a couple of years, he expressed a desire for a teacher. As a result of that, we started the Guelph Spring Seminar with Matsuo Haruna sensei 30 years ago this year (1991). My training thus became a mix of instruction from Ohmi sensei and Haruna sensei. Ohmi sensei told me to follow Haruna sensei and I, like the bad student I was, changed when told to do so. Haruna sensei’s MJER came from Oe Masamichi through Yamamoto Harusuke and Yamashibu sensei. As a result, I have had training in styles that are familiar in both the Kendo federation and the Iaido federation. I have no idea what people are calling them these days but I’ve heard things like “Osaka style” and “Seito style” and “Yamamoto ha”. My advice is to practice what you are taught and let the worrying over style and headmasters be done by others.
Our history of MJER is quite exhausting to describe in a few words, suffice it to say that your lineage is just fine. I promise I did not make up anything that I teach you, if you find something that someone else tells you is “wrong” just ask and I’ll tell you where it came from. Remember always that the longer you study, the less important your ancestry will become.
Feb 7, 2020
U. Guelph Japanese Swordsmanship Club (Sei Do Kai): Tues. 9-11pm, Fri. 7-9pm, Sunday 1-4pm.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
To Shin Kai Jodo/Iaido classes, Clarke Hall, Port Credit, Feb 10, Mar 16
March 7, Iaido seminar, Port Credit.
March 8, Jodo seminar, Port Credit.
Apr 18, 19. Peterborough Haru Geiko, Jodo, Niten Ichiryu, MJER jujutsu, and one other I can’t remember.
May 15-18. Annual CKF Spring International Iaido and Jodo seminar and Jodo grading.