Musō Shinden-ryū

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Musō Shinden-ryū
Date founded 1932[1]
Founder Nakayama Hakudō (中山 博道), 1869-1958.
Current head None.
Arts taught Iaido
Ancestor schools Hasegawa Eishin-ryū (長谷川英信流)
Descendant schools None.

Musō Shinden-ryū (夢想神伝流?) is a style of sword-drawing art founded by Nakayama Hakudō (中山博道) in 1932.[2] Nakayama Hakudō learned under both Hosokawa Yoshimasa, a master of the Shimomura branch (下村派) of Hasegawa Eishin-ryū, and Morimoto Tokumi, a fellow student of Ōe Masamichi of the Tanimura branch (谷村派).[3] The name Musō Shinden-ryū most likely comes from the name given to the Shimomura branch by Hosokawa, Musō Shinden Eishin-ryū (無雙神傳英信流).[4]


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, more commonly 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 a position about ten centimeters above the left shoulder, blade edge up, and with the point facing backwards. 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.[5]


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 edge turned to face upwards. The blade and saya should cross your center line at a forty-five degree angle while sheathing.[6]


Shoden (初伝)[edit]

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.[7] The kata Ryūtō which involves the Ukenagashi counter technique, is often considered as the most difficult kata of the Omori set. Another particularity is the 7th kata, Juntō, unlike most of the other Iai skills, it was not thought for dueling purpose nor for self-defense, but to serve as Kaishakunin.

Nakayama Hakudō, according to his own memoirs, invented the twelfth kata called In'yō Shintai Kaewaza as a variation on the fifth kata In'yō Shintai.[8]

The following is the order given by Yamatsuta.[9] In some schools, the order of the last two kata are reversed.

  • 01. Shohattō (初発刀)
  • 02. Satō (左刀)
  • 03. Utō (右刀)
  • 04. Ataritō (当刀)
  • 05. In'yō Shintai (陰陽進退)
  • 06. Ryūtō (流刀)
  • 07. Juntō (順刀)
  • 08. Gyakutō (逆刀)
  • 09. Seichūtō (勢中刀)
  • 10. Korantō (虎乱刀)
  • 11. Battō (抜刀)
  • 12. In'yō Shintai Kaewaza (陰陽進退替業)

Chūden (中伝)[edit]

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.[10]

Ōe Masamichi apparently developed a method to execute all ten techniques in a row in what he called haya-nuki or "quick draw".[11] Two versions exist for each. 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.[12] This kind of practice is not done in formal presentations.[13]

  • 01. Yokogumo (横雲)
  • 02. Toraissoku (虎一足)
  • 03. Inazuma (稲妻)
  • 04. Ukigumo (浮雲)
  • 05. Yamaoroshi (山颪)
  • 06. Iwanami (岩浪)
  • 07. Urokogaeshi (鱗返)
  • 08. Namigaeshi (浪返)
  • 09. Takiotoshi (滝落)
  • 10. Nukiuchi (抜打)

Okuden (奥伝)[edit]

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 tatehiza.

  • 01. Ipponme | Kasumi | (Mist)
  • 02. Nihonme | Sunegakoi | (Covering the shin)
  • 03. Sanbonme | Shihogiri | (Cutting four corners)
  • 04. Yonhonme | Tozume | (Across the screen doors)
  • 05. Gohonme | Towaki | (Along the screen doors)
  • 06. Ropponme | Tanashita | (Under the shelf)
  • 07. Nanahonme | Ryozume | (Obstacles on both sides)
  • 08. Happonme | Torabashiiri | (Running Tiger)


  • 01. Ipponme | Yukitsure | (Escort)
  • 02. Nihonme | Rentatsu | (Escort)
  • 03. Sanbonme | Somakuri | (Cutting the multiple opponents)
  • 04. Yonhonme | Sodome | (One handed cuts)
  • 05. Gohonme | Shinobu | (Stealth)
  • 06. Ropponme | Yukichigai | (Passing by)
  • 07. Nanahonme | Sodesurigaeshi | (Flipping the sleeves)
  • 08. Happonme | Moniri | (Entering the gate)
  • 09. Kyuhonme | Kabezoi | (Along the walls)
  • 10. Jupponme | Ukenagashi | (Block and deflect)
  • 11. Juiponme | Itomagoi / Sanbon | (Request Leave of Absence / Three forms)


The paired Kumitachi techniques (the kenjutsu part of the curriculum) are rarely taught today. Tachi Uchi no Kurai and Tsumeai no Kurai are the series most often taught.


  1. ^ Goron Warner and Donn F. Draeger (1991). Japanese Swordsmanship. Weatherhill. Pages 91-92. ISBN 978-0-8348-0236-0
  2. ^ Goron Warner and Donn F. Draeger (1991). Japanese Swordsmanship. Weatherhill. Pages 91-92. ISBN 978-0-8348-0236-0
  3. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 16.
  4. ^ "History of Muso Shinden Eishin-ryu Iai Heiho". Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 36.
  6. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 38.
  7. ^ Draeger and Warner.
  8. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 49.
  9. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 48.
  10. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 113.
  11. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 164-166.
  12. ^ Inoshita, Kasey. "立膝の部". Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  13. ^ Yamatsuta, p. 166.


  • Yamatsuta, Shigeyoshi (2005). Iaido Hongi (居合道本義) (in Japanese with English translation). Tokyo: Airyudo (愛隆堂). ISBN 4-7502-0272-X. 
  • Fujita, Tadashi (2000). Muso Shinden Ryu Kuden. Tokyo: Tadashi Fujita - Tokyo Binding-Printing Co, Ltd. 

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