Haruna Matsuo Sensei-den Muso Jikiden Eishin ryu

Oe Masamichi (17th generation headmaster, 1852-1927)
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Yamamoto Harusuke (Hanshi 9th Dan, 1893-1978)
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Yamashibu Yoshikazu (Hanshi 8th Dan, 1922-1993)
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Haruna Matsuo (Kyoshi 8th Dan, 1926-2002)
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Oshita Masakazu (Kyoshi 8th Dan)

Early History

Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu traces its origins directly back to Hayashizaki Minamoto no Shigenobu, who was born around 1542 in Dewa Province, Oshu (present-day Murayama city, Yamagata prefecture). Hayashizaki is known as the man who restored and promulgated the art of iai, and many of the schools of iai that survive today are descended from him. Born Asano Tamijimaru, his father was murdered when he was three years old. He began to study Kyo-ryu kenjutsu at age eight, and at age twelve he spent one hundred days meditating in the Hayashizaki Myojin shrine. During this time the god of the shrine appeared to him in a dream and revealed to him the secrets of swordsmanship. Following this experience, he adopted the name Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu, and based on what the god of the shrine revealed to him he founded a school of battojutsu (iai) called Hayashizaki Muso-ryu. He later travelled the country and taught many students who went on to establish their own schools, such as Tamiya Heibei Shigemasa, the founder of Tamiya-ryu.

The seventh-generation inheritor of Hayashizaki’s school of swordsmanship was Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin. Eishin was highly accomplished in jujutsu, spear fighting and other martial arts. He is said to have had great mastery and understanding of Hayashizaki’s techniques, second only to Hayashizaki himself. Eishin adapted Hayashizaki’s iai for use with the sword worn edge up through the belt, as opposed to the older style of hanging the sword from the belt edge down. He also developed the set of seated iai techniques known today as Tatehiza no bu. In recognition of his mastery and the adaptations he made, the iai he taught became known as Hasegawa-ryu or Hasegawa Eishin-ryu. This was essentially a new school that Eishin founded based on the teachings of Hayashizaki.

The ninth-generation inheritor was Hayashi Rokudayu Morimasa, a retainer of the ruling Yamauchi family from Tosa domain (present-day Kochi prefecture). Hayashi studied Hasegawa Eishin-ryu while posted in Edo (present-day Tokyo), and brought the school back to Tosa with him. There he added an adjunct to the curriculum, Omori-ryu. These seated techniques, today known as Seiza no bu, were developed by Hayashi’s Shinkage-ryu kenjutsu teacher, Omori Rokuzaemon Masamitsu. From then until the modern period, these schools of iai were transmitted together as otome ryu (fief-sponsored schools) of Tosa.

Modern Period - Oe Masamichi

After the eleventh generation, Hasegawa Eishin-ryu split into two branches, which later became known as the Tanimura-ha and Shimomura-ha. As Japan entered the modern period, the Tanimura-ha was inherited by Oe Masamichi (1852-1927). At an early age Oe had also studied Oguri-ryu and Shinkage-ryu kenjutsu, along with Shimomura-ha Hasegawa Eishin-ryu. At fifteen he took part in the battle of Fushimi, following which he began to study Tanimura-ha. Sensing the need to adapt Hasegawa Eishin-ryu to survive in the modern age, Oe streamlined and consolidated the complex curriculum into three levels – Seiza no bu (Omori ryu), Tatehiza no bu and Okuiai (Hasegawa Eishin ryu). He resurrected an old name for the newly revised school: Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu.

Oe also abandoned the old system of transmitting inner teachings to just one student, and opened up the school to people from other parts of Japan. This was a revolutionary step in Eishin-ryu’s history. It allowed Oe’s many students to go on to spread Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu around Japan, and for the school to eventually spread throughout the world. Although Oe did not teach Nakayama Hakudo, it was partly thanks to Oe’s more open approach that Nakayama was able to begin his study of Hasegawa Eishin-ryu. Nakayama went on to inherit the Shimomura-ha, from which he formulated Muso Shinden-ryu.

Our Lineage

Yamamoto Harusuke and Yamashibu Yoshikazu

Yamamoto Harusuke (1893-1978) was born and lived in Akaoka, Kochi. A direct student of Oe Masamichi, he also studied kendo under Kawasaki Zensaburo. As a child he was noted for his powerful kendo despite his small stature. Working as a newspaper correspondent, before the war he taught kendo at Kochi Agricultural School, where in a few years he coached the kendo team to win second place in the All-Japan Championships. After the war he was a major figure in the spread of iai throughout Japan, and was involved in the committee that established Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Iai.

At the 1957 Kyoto Taikai, Yamamoto Harusuke was met by the brothers Yamashibu Yoshikazu and Yamashibu Yasuo, a pair of kendo teachers from Okayama. After seeing Yamamoto’s iai, Yoshikazu made a request to become his direct pupil, and was surprised when Yamamoto accepted his request on the spot. Following this meeting, Yamamoto made frequent visits to Okayama to teach the Yamashibu brothers. He also travelled to teach in many other parts of Japan, and raised a large number of students. He reached the rank of 9th Dan, and in 1960 he was awarded the title of hanshi.

Haruna Matsuo and Oshita Masakazu

Haruna Matsuo Sensei (1926-2002) was from Okayama prefecture and began iaido in 1972 at the age of 46, although he had practised kendo since the age of 16. His home dojo was the Musashi Dojo in Ohara. He worked as a junior high school teacher, teaching science. His iaido teacher was Yamashibu Yoshikazu Sensei, and he also received some direct instruction from Yamamoto Harusuke. He was a finalist at 7th Dan level in the All-Japan Championships two years running (1988 and 1989); he was runner-up in 1988 and winner in 1989 with a perfect 3-0 score in each round. He also placed in the top 8 several times in the All Japan Championships as well as having many other tournament successes throughout Japan.

Haruna Sensei taught many times overseas, contributing to the spread of iaido outside Japan. His first overseas visit was to the U.K. in 1982 with regular visits from 1984 up until 2001. His first visit to Canada was in 1991. He attained the rank of kyoshi 8th Dan in iaido, held rank in kendo and also trained in Niten-Ichi ryu.

Oshita Masakazu Sensei, one of Haruna Sensei’s most senior students, is our current teacher in Japan. He runs the Kobe Genbukan iai dojo in Kobe city, Hyogo, and is also the instructor of Kobe Gakuin University Iaido Club. He began to study iaido in 1975 with the Hyogo Eishinkai, and in 1979 he began to study under Haruna Sensei. He first visited the UK in 1989 to assist Haruna Sensei in teaching at a seminar.

In 1996, Oshita Sensei rebuilt his house after it was destroyed in the Great Hanshin Earthquake Disaster, and also constructed a dojo on the site. The name Genbukan was chosen for two reasons: firstly, Genbuin is the posthumous name of Tomigahara Tomiyoshi Sensei, who was an important patron of Oshita Sensei’s. Secondly, ‘genbu’ means ‘basalt’ in Japanese. This stone is found all over the world, so the name reflects how Oshita Sensei works to spread iai to students across the globe.

Oshita Sensei is currently ranked kyoshi 8th Dan and regularly visits the UK and Europe to teach. In addition to iai, he also holds rank in other arts such as kendo, jodo and Daito-ryu Aiki-Ju-Jutsu.