Iaijutsu is an ancient art of
self-defense, mental discipline, and character development that was
created by Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu about 450 years
ago. Young Hayazaki's father was killed by a master swordsman, so
he set out to create of system of self-defense for samurai.
After 100 days of prayer and ritual purification, young Hayashizashi
developed a system of self-defense techniques, all of which begin with
the defender's sword still sheathed in its scabbard when the opponent
attacks with a drawn sword. The original system was developed for
the tachi, a sword much longer than those we think of as samurai
About 50 years later, the 7th successor to Hayashizaki's style, Hasegawa Eishin, adapted its techniques to the shorter sword (called daitō) that is now commonly called a "samurai sword." Around 1590, Hasegawa demonstrated this system to Japan's first sei-i tai-shōgun, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Toyotomi proclaimed Hasegawa as musō-ken -- "sword without equal" -- and it is from this title that the style Musō Jikiden Eishin-Ryū gets its name.
Iaijutsu is unique among all sword-fighting arts because it is exclusively a defensive system. Every technique begins with the sword sheathed and the defender in a non-combative -- often seated or reposing -- position. Originally called battō-jutsu ("the art of sword-drawing"), it later came to be known as iaijutsu because of this unique defensive quality. Iaijutsu literally means "the art of remaining face-to-face." In a martial arts context, this term is taken to mean "the art of confrontation." However, since iaijutsu involves keeping the sword sheathed (and thereby remaining non-confrontational to one's opponent) until the last possible moment, the deeper meaning of iaijutsu is remaining face-to-face with death. The philosophy that extends from iaijutsu, therefore, is one of profound appreciation for every moment of life.
The IWU Budōkai provides its members with the opportunity to train in traditional Musō Jikiden Eishin-Ryū Iaijutsu, Japan's most popular style of iaijutsu. In addition, by permission of the Jikishin-Kai International, we have developed a formalized system of training in Seitei Iaidō, based upon the Zen Nippon Kendō Renmei (All-Japan Kendo Federation) Seitei Iai Kata. Testing requirements for promotion to all ranks up to shodan are available for both the Eishin-Ryū and Seitei programs.