What is Iaido?

What is iaido?

Iaido is a martial art of Japanese Swordsmanship.  The emphasis of this style of swordsmanship is the use of the sword from the scabbard, as contrasted with kenjutsu systems which is the use of a drawn sword.

The concept of iaido is widely attributed to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu.  While there may have been other systems before his time that also had techniques that emphasized drawing and cutting from the scabbard (namely Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu), he is the first to have organized it into its own system.  Probably all iaido systems that are practiced today evolved from, or were offshoots of, Hayashizaki Shigenobu’s iaido system.  Examples of other systems of iaido in existence today are the Tamiya Ryu, Hoki Ryu, Mugai Ryu, and Sekiguchi Ryu.

Legend has it that Hayashizaki Shigenobu’s father was either murdered or killed in a duel by a master swordsman.  Seeking revenge, he sought mediation and inspiration by entering the local temple, where after 100 days, he is said to have been divinely inspired with a technique where he could draw and cut his opponent down in a single stroke.  While not much is known about the swordsman that he defeated, Shigenobu went on to develop and organize the core techniques into a swordsmanship system, one that went on to influence and inspire many other swordsmen and systems.

The system that the UCSD Iaido classes practice is called Muso JIkiden Eishin Ryu (MJER) or “Peerless Direct Transmission Eishin Style”.  Today, there are many legitimate lines of MJER today, especially those promoted by the major organizations.  Some of these organizations are Seito MJER (All Japan Iaido Federation), the All Japan Kendo Federation, the Roshukai, and the Komei Juku.  UCSD Iaido Club belongs to the Kokusai Nippon Budo Kai (KNBK).


For more information and details about our line, please visit the KNBK homepage at www.knbk.org.