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Traditional Japanese martial art
Musō Shinden-ryū
Founder Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu (林崎 甚助 源重信)
Nakayama Hakudō (中山 博道), reviser.[1]
Date founded c.1590
Period founded Late Muromachi period
Current headmaster None.
Arts taught
Art Description
iaijutsu Sword-drawing art
kenjutsu Sword art
Ancestor schools
Hasegawa Eishin-ryū (Shimomura-ha)
Descendant schools

Musō Shinden-ryū (夢想神伝流 ?) is a iaijutsu koryū founded by Nakayama Hakudō (中山博道), last sōke of the Shimomura branch of Hasegawa Eishin-ryū. It is to Musō Shinden-ryū and its curriculum that most persons refer to by the term "iaidō", as this term was coined and popularized by Nakayama.[2]



The kata from Musō Shinden-ryū present some differences in their execution from the kata of the same name practiced in its sister art of Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū. Among the most visible are the manner in which the furikamuri (raising the sword overhead, also known as furikaburi) and the nōtō (sheathing) are done. Both arts also differ from many other iaijutsu schools in that there is no kiai.


After striking with one hand, primarily on nukitsuke (cutting as one draws the sword out), the sword is brought to the side of the head about ten centimeters away from the left shoulder at about the same height with the point facing backward. The movement resembles a thrust to the rear. Unlike in Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū, the sword does not fall off behind the back but always stays over shoulder height. The right hand then raises the sword overhead while the left hand takes its place on the hilt, thus entering in the jōdan stance or kamae. The sword should now be right in the middle line of the body, with the tip raised forty-five degrees upward and your left hand hovering just above your forehead.[3]


In Musō Shinden-ryū, the sheathing is performed horizontally with the blade outwards. Only when the sword is about two-thirds of the way in the saya is the blade turned to face upwards. The blade and saya should cross your center line at a forty-five degree angle while sheathing.[4]



The word "Shoden", which can be translated as the "entry-transmission", consists of the kata of Ōmori-ryū iaijutsu plus one kata variation exclusive to Musō Shinden-ryū. The kata start from the seiza sitting posture. It has been included in Musō Shinden-ryū as the entry level. This series of kata was made the first to be learned when the 17th headmaster of the Tanimura branch, Ōe Masamichi, reorganized and rationalized the curriculum of Hasegawa Eishin-ryū at the start of the 20th century.[5]

Nakayama Hakudō, according to his own memoirs, invented the twelfth kata called Inyō Shintai Kaewaza as a variation on the fifth kata Inyō Shintai.[6]


The word "Chūden" can be translated as the "middle-transmission" and consists of ten techniques from Hasegawa Eishin-ryū. This series of kata is executed from the tachihiza (more commonly called tatehiza) sitting position. In contrast to the first series of kata, the enemy is considered to be sitting very close and thus the primary goal of the chūden techniques is to create proper cutting distance (kirima) by stepping back instead of forward.[7]

Ōe Masamichi apparently developed a method to execute all ten techniques in a row in what he called haya-nuki or "quick draw".[8] Two version exists. First, you can use two hands, that is you can use both the left and right hand to execute the movements, just as in the normal execution. The second method involves drawing the sword with only the right hand, as if you were on a horse.[9] This kind of practice is not done in formal presentations.[10]


The word "Okuden" can be translated as the "inner-transmission". Oku-iai, as it is also called, is divided into two groups : suwari-waza (sitting techniques) and tachi-waza (standing techniques). As in chūden, the sitting techniques are performed from tachihiza.


The paired Kumitachi techniques (the kenjutsu part of the curriculum) are rarely taught today. Many high ranked iaidō practitioners do not practice these techniques at all. Tachi Uchi no Kurai and Tsumeai no Kurai are the series most often taught, but even these are not known to the majority of iaidō practitioners. See the List of Musō Shinden-ryū techniques for more details.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Draeger and Warner, p. 79.
  3. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 36.
  4. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 38.
  5. ^ Draeger and Warner.
  6. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 49.
  7. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 113.
  8. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 164-166.
  9. ^ Inoshita, Kasey. "立膝の部". Retrieved 2009-07-29.  
  10. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 166.


  • Draeger, Donn F.; Gordon Warner (1982). Japanese Swordsmanship : Technique and Practice. New York: Weatherhill. ISBN 0-8348-0146-9.  
  • Yamatsuta, Shigeyoshi (2005) (in Japanese with English translation). Iaido Hongi (居合道本義). Tokyo: Airyudo (愛隆堂). ISBN 4-7502-0272-X.  

External links

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