Muso Shinden Iai Movies

January 23, 2005: Updated. These days the network becomes much faster and broader, movie encoding techniques becomes much smarter, and I checked and noticed that we still have many downloads from this page, so I decided to provide the complete full length movie (about 20minutes, 187079894bytes, DivX5.2.1 encoded avi file). QuickTime movies are also available at the old page.

June 9, 2001: Updated. Converted the movie format to Microsoft MPEG-4 v2. Now you can download the movies much faster.


Almost all Iai schools were derived from a common mythological founder, named Jushin (or Shigenobu, HAYASHIZAKI Jinsuke, etc). Muso Shinden is also one of the successors of Jushin style.

HAYASHIZAKI Shigenobu appeared circa 1560 - 1570, devised some forms of sword-drawing arts (i.e., Batto Jutu, an alternative Japanese name of Iai) for the first time.

We would regard Iai as a dance, a sport, or a spiritual training, but until recently it has been a real technique for assasination, or defence from opponents, characterized by the sudden and quick manipulation of the sword. We know that today's Iai styles have been modified a lot since it was first established. Also the commercial movies, TV shows, comics, dramas, and street performance could be the source of our confusion and misunderstanding. You (Foreigners as well as Japanese) hear some times before that the Japanese martial arts are based on manners and etiquettes, starting with respect and ending also with respect. But at least in the days of the Civil Wars, rudeness was a more preferable virtue than such politeness.

The civil war state of Japan was ceased by the final winner, Shogun Ieyasu, by the middle of the 17th century. Some new styles of Iai arts were introduced and merged in. In almost cases the assassin is supposed to be a mission sent to the enemies' house. The guest would make his best effort to persuade, disarm, or arrest the host. It was of course a dangerous task. When the host would refuse or resist, the guest should use force to complete the mission, as well as to defend himself. These situations seem very common even in the peace period of Edo, so the arts of Iai would have been still developed, or at least maintained. Some also liked to preserve and inherit the techniques in a style of art.

The guest and host would be sitting and talking to each other face to face (the original meaning of "Iai" comes from this situation; "I" in "Iai" means sitting, and "ai" means facing). The sudden attack is sometimes effective when the opponents are relaxing or not facing directly, e. g. when bowing or saying good bye...

The living style was also over-formalized in those Edo Period. The manner of daily life (known as "Ogasawara" style rooted from the former period of Muromachi) describing how to eat, drink, walk, enter and leave the room, open and close the door, sit down and stand up, became very common among Samurais. Even ordinary people started using the "Tatami" flooring in their houses and sitting on it in "Seiza" (formal sitting) pose.

Needless to say, this change affected the Iai styles. Older sitting pose is more relaxing and physically easy, but newer Iai styles adopted the "Seiza" pose. It means we could distinguish original forms from newly invented ones observing the sitting poses. The name "Iai" may occurred after Seiza sitting on the soft Tatami floor became popular in Edo Period.

[Tatehiza] Eishin (or HASEGAWA Hidenobu) was supposed to be a quite important reformer of Shigenobu style in middle 18th century. Later, Oomori style was introduced into Eishin style, which became a mixture of verious styles, including sitting, standing, and Seiza forms. This was the direct ancestor of "Muso Shinden" and "Muso Jikiden" (or "Muso Jikiden Eishin") styles. "Muso Shinden" and "Muso Jikiden" are quite similar. Both has the same sound "Muso" (the name was said to be given by Tycoon Hideyoshi, when his tournament was held).



[Fig Ikitigai] Muso Shinden consists of three parts described below: the first, second levels, and the secret level.

The First Level

This level is originally called Oomori style, imported in the 18th century. It seems there is no relationship with the original Shigenobu style. The forms of this level start in Seiza pose except the 10th, which starts with a standing pose. The naming of forms are too much sophisticated (maybe influenced by Chinese literature or philosophy), or sometimes no meaning. This means these forms are not quite old.

It could be said that these forms were a mere formalization, or an invention for beginners training.

  1. Shohat-To First (it is called Mae (Forward) in Muso-Jikiden).
  2. Sa-To Left
  3. U-To Right
  4. Atari-To (Usiro (Back)).
  5. In-Yo-Shin-Tai (Yaegaki).
  6. Ryu-To (Ukenagasi).
  7. Jun-To (Kaishaku)
  8. Gyaku-To (Tukekomi or Oikiri)
  9. Seichu-To (Tukikage)
  10. Koran-To (Oikaze)
  11. In-Yo-Shin-Tai Kaete
  12. Bat-To (Nukiuti)

The Middle Level

This level is also called the Hidenobu (Eishin) style. The last form "Nukiuti" starts in "Seiza" pose, but this is the only exception. The rests start in the older sitting pose "Tatehiza". The naming of forms is like old-Japanese poems (almost no meanings). This style maybe a collection of older forms, revised to apply to modern situations by HASEGAWA Hidenobu, who is an officer served for Nagoya Tokugawa Family.
  1. Yokogumo Horizontal Clouds
  2. ToraIssoku Tiger's One Step
  3. Inaduma Thunderbolt
  4. Ukigumo Floating Clouds
  5. Yamaorosi Downhill Storm
  6. Iwanami Rock and Wave
  7. Urokogaesi Scaling Off
  8. Namigaesi Backwash
  9. Takiotosi Waterfall
  10. Nukiuti Sudden Attack. It's also called Joi-uti (punishment ordered by the boss). Maybe a very common assassinating technique.

The Secret Level

[Fig Tuki] It is called "Oku Iai" in Japanese. It seems a collection of real assasinating techniques at least once used before in a real battle. The naming style is also straight-forward. The name "Oku" implies that these forms were confidentially inherited and have never been exposed to people outside of the school? I don't think so. I think these forms are simply old and original, too much cruel or dangerous to be shown to common people.

Divided into two parts: sitting and standing. Itomagoi starts in Seiza pose, though. Standing Forms seem rather old.

Sitting Forms

  1. Kasumi The name means "mist". An opponent sitting in front of you. First you cut horizontally the opponent's eyes to blind him, then strike the head vertically.
  2. Sunegakoi Knee Covering. First you protect your knee from opponent's attack, then go on the counterattack.
  3. Sihogiri Attacking the Four Sides (all around). You are surrounded by four men. First attack the behind, then sides. At last attack the front.
  4. Todume Two men sitting in front of you. Attack one bye one.
  5. Towaki One is behind and another is in front of you. First attack the behind and then front.
  6. Tanasita Hide yourself under the shelf, crawl out, then attack.
  7. Ryozume Similar to Tanashita. Not strike but stab.
  8. Torabasiri Tiger Run. Stand up and run to the front one, then run backward, strike again.

Standing Forms

[Fig Sodome] These forms are very exciting and realistic. I love them very much.
  1. Ikidure Going Side by Side. There are two men in the both side you, walking together. Maybe you are arrested by them, trying to escape.
  2. Turedati Going Together. There are one in front right and the other back left.
  3. Somakuri Continuous Atack. Wind sword around to smash surrounding enemies.
  4. Sodome Attack One After Another. Enemies are in a row coming towards through a relatively narrow path.
  5. Sinobu Secret Attack. It is also called Yami-uti (Attack in the Darkness). Oh! how unfair this technique is !? You approach your victim from his behind in the dark, slowly, quietly, click on the road the tip of the sword to divert his attention, then strike from the opposite side.
  6. Ikitigai Encounter Attack. There are two persons coming towards in a row, when you reach between them, first stab the behind, then hit the front.
  7. Sodesurigaesi Pushing Through the Crowd. You find your target beyond the crowd on the street. Draw out the sword first, pushing your way through the crowd, then reach and strike him.
  8. Moniri Entering Through the Gate. Walk toward the gate, lower yourself, stab the first coming one, then strike others.
  9. Kabezoi By the Wall. Beyond the opponent there is a wall preventing from swinging the sword around.
  10. Ukenagasi Receive and redirect the opponent's attack.
  11. Itomagoi 1 Farewell 1. While saying good bye, suddenly draw out your sword, then swing it vertically onto the opponent's head, smash at one stroke, before he notices what happens. Farewells are supposed to be a modification of Nukiuti. Farewell 1 bow slightly.
  12. Itomagoi 2 Farewell 2 bow more deeply
  13. Itomagoi 3 Farewell 3 bow quite deeply, it will hide your sword-drawing action from the opponent.

About These Movies

[Fig Tiburui] These Iai arts were played by my grandfather, NAGAE Matasaburo, in his sixties (I guess). He was born in Nagasaki and lived there, received the 7th grade of Kendo and 8th grade of Iai from Zen-Nippon Kendo Renmei (All-Japan Kendo Federation). He also practiced Shinto Munen style Iai. The original movies were recorded in 8mm films, then edited in a VHS tape (the image quality is awful). I don't know who took and maintained these films (maybe one of my grandfather's disciplines did). I converted it in DV (digital video) format, stored in HDD, finally created Microsoft MPEG-4 v2 format (320x240, 10fps). You may freely redistribute these movies for the sake of the prosperity of Iai arts.

list of avi, quicktime, and divx avi files.

References