The life of Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu

His sword became one with the god’s; the most supreme Battōjutsu, which would shine throughout history was born.

During the Muromachi period lived a man who would go on to change the art of swordsmanship forever. The legacy he left survived nearly half a millennium, a legacy larger than that of any martial artist in his wake.

On the 12th of January 1542, a boy known as Asano Tamijimaru was born into a warrior family in Hayashizaki village, Tateyama, Dewa no Kuni (Modern day Yamagata Prefecture, Murayama City).
His father was Asano Kazuma no Minamoto Shigenari. A retainer to the Mogami family branch who were in charge of the South Eastern part of Dewa, he served Mogami Inaba no Kami Mitsuhide, the sixth Mogami Lord and overall fifteenth Lord of Tateoka Castle, in the Kitamurayama District of Tateoka City. (Modern Yamagata Pref. Murayama City, Tateoka). Asano was known as a gentle and outgoing individual, earning him the trust of his lord.
Tamijimaru’s mother, Sugano, was the daughter of the Takamori Household in Tateoka. She was once a handmaiden to the princess of Yamagata Kasumi Castle, and was an intelligent woman with a strong sense of determination, excelling in many arts.

At the age of five* Tamijimaru’s family was struck by tragedy. In 1547 Tamijimaru’s father was brutally murdered by Sakagami Shuzen (also known as Ichiunsai or Sakagawa Unsai) a fellow retainer of the Mogami Clan.
Serving as a martial arts instructor to the clan, Sakagawa bore a strong grudge and sense of envy towards Asano, due to the way he performed etiquette within the castle.
One night, blinded by his resentment, Sakagawa ambushed Asano on his way back from visiting his family grave at Hayashizaki Myōjin Shrine. Sakagawa violently murdered him and fled into the dead of the night.

Tamijimaru and his mother Sugano, deprived of their breadwinner, were thrown into poverty.
It is said from the moment his father was murdered, his mother spent years praying to the deity of Hayashizaki Daimyōjin Shrine with one single wish- vengeance for her husband’s death.
With infant in her arms, Sugano prayed everyday at the shrine, all the while waiting for her son to come of age and enact her husband’s vengeance. After eventually hearing from his mother that his father was murdered by an evil man called Sakagawa Shuzen, Tamijimaru took his first step onto the long path of vengeance, and began his martial arts training as his mother instructed.

When he reached seven years old, Tamijimaru began studying Kyō Ryū Kenjutsu Heihō under Higashine Jirō Dayū, a chief vassal and Kenjutsu instructor to the Mogami clan his father served. (Kyō Ryū is also known as Kyōhachi Ryū. This style of swordsmanship was founded in the Heian Era, and legend states that all other Kenjutsu schools to this day were born from this style. The famous Yoshioka brothers who Miyamoto Musashi defeated were said to be practitioners of this school.)

At twelve years old Tamijimaru decided to retire to Hayashizaki Daimyōjin to begin training in earnest, however his spirit and technique were not one, and developed very little during his time training.
At fourteen years old Tamijimaru went once more to the shrine to perform 100 days of prayer, this time pouring his entire soul into his training. On this occasion his dedication shone through, with his spirit and technique harmonising. One night, the deity of the shrine appeared to him in his dreams. During this epiphany, Tamijimaru received the innermost secrets of the most superb swordsmanship from the God.
It was at this moment that his sword became one with the god’s; the most supreme Battōjutsu, which would shine throughout history was born.

This was the birth of Musō Shinden Jūshin Ryū. (Sadly, it is not known when Tamijimaru started to use the Jūshin Ryū or Musō Shinden Ryū name. What is known though, is that he was using the Musō Shinden name at the time he had his first disciple.)

Among the secrets of Battō that were bestowed to Tamijimaru from the god of the Hayashizaki Myōjin Shrine, was “Kesa no Hitotachi no Seishin”, the mindset of Kesa no Hitotachi:

“Do not draw, do not force others to draw. Do not cut, do not force others to cut. Do not kill, do not be killed. Even if one encounters the greatest of sinners, one should kindly offer sermon and show them the path of good men. If the worst occurs and they do not conform, then without hesitation apply Kesauchi and send them to Buddha.” **

It taught the young Tamijimaru that above all one should avoid violence at all costs, favouring steering your opponent onto the righteous path of peace and morality, rather than simply cutting them down. He learnt that it was better to create a great man who in turn would create more great men, instead of just killing.
It was only as a last resort that one should turn to violence, and this was only to prevent others from being subsequently killed by that opponent. This was known as Katsujinken, the life-giving sword.

In order to attain this state, Tamijimaru would have to cut away the Three Poisons from within himself: Don, Shin and Chi.
“Don” referring to the Buddhist Rāga or desire, “Shin” to Dvesa or rage, and lastly “Chi” being Moha or ignorance. After detaching himself from these poisons he finally achieved serenity, thus wielding a “Sword of Compassion”, and represented the God of the shrine itself.
He also received the secrets of wielding the “Sanjaku Sanzun Katana” (A one metre bladed long sword) and the “Kyūsun Gobu Wakizashi”(An almost 29cm bladed shorts word) with the techniques of “Manjinuki”, the ability to instantly draw the long sword using the left and right hand in perfect harmony.***
One should use the long sword as if it were short, and the short sword as if it were long. Destroy your opponent’s distance and timing by smothering them, but still being able to draw the long sword, yet overcome tremendous distance, utilising every inch of ones body and the short sword.

In 1559 upon reaching seventeen, Asano Tamijimaru changed his name in light of discovering his new self, a practice very common for Japanese warriors.
He henceforth went by the name of Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu. He chose Hayashizaki after the name of his village, Jinsuke after his father’s infant name, and Shigenobu by utilising the first character of his father Shigenari’s name.
Soon after this Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu received the inner secrets of Kyō Ryū Kenjutsu Heihō from Higashine Jirō Dayū. He travelled back to the shrine where he received his epiphany, and vowed to the God that he would avenge his father’s death, simultaneously praying for success on his coming journey.
He requested leave from his mother and his teacher to begin Musha Shugyō, a warrior pilgrimage, and set out onto what would later be know as the Nakasendō road, (one of the five main roads of the Edo period) leaving Hayashizaki village on the path of vengeance.

While walking the Nakasendō, Hayashizaki found himself in Shinshū (modern Nagano pref.). While here he found lodging at the residence of Kitayama Hanzaemon, a member of a powerful local clan. During his stay however, the Ibaragumi, a group of Nobushi turned bandits, attacked the residence. In an incredible feat, Hayashizaki drew his sword and in one swift, continuous movement dispatched the leader in a flash, and easily finished off the remaining enemies. This amazing act spread like wildfire; acting as a lightning rod drawing many warriors who were so impressed they requested to be his students.

After his stay in Shinshū he headed out onto the Tōkaidō road, heading south in the direction of Bishū (modern Nagoya) where eventually he reached castle grounds. After Bishū, he later settled in the former city of the Heian Emperor, Kyōto.

Along the way on his journey he trained with a number of skilled martial artists and attracted numerous students who would subsequently go on to create their own schools of swordsmanship.

In the April of 1561, the nineteen-year-old Hayashizaki took part in a martial arts competition held before the thirteenth Shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate, Ashikaga Yoshiteru. Among the spectators were a number of local Daimyō, military leaders, including Matsunaga Tanjō.
During his duels Hayashizaki spectacularly defeated Nitta Yoshiaki, a master of Suwa Ryū, and was awarded a famous sword made by the Nobukuni family of swordsmiths. This event was another turning point for Hayashizaki’s style and further added to his already growing reputation.

Not long after his success Hayashizaki’s life was in for a dramatic turn of events. In the May of the same year he gained knowledge that the man who murdered his father, Sakagami Shuzen, the man who he had been so desperately searching for for all of those years, was actually living in Fushimi, Kyōto hiding under the alias Rozan Daizen Toshitaka.

Upon hearing that the killer was residing in the same city, he immediately proceeded to Matsunaga Tanjō whom he had met at the competition the previous month.
Matsunaga was acting as the local shogunate security officer, and was able to acquaint Hayashizaki in with Miyoshi Nagayoshi. Miyoshi was the Daimyō holding authority over the region, and his authorisation would be essential for Hayashizaki to carry out his mission.
He proceeded to contact Miyoshi and requested that he receive the permission needed to confront Rozan. Impressed by Hayashizaki’s dedication to his father and by his martial prowess, Miyoshi gave Hayashizaki his official stamp, thus signifying his permission for Hayashizaki to enact his vengeance.

Filled undoubtedly with anticipation and determination, Hayashizaki began his reconnaissance on Sakagawa, carefully observing his movements and awaiting the opportune chance to take justice. After eleven long years, it was finally on the 17th of May that Hayashizaki was ultimately able to confront his father’s killer at Tanbakaidō.
Drawing his Nobukuni blade, Hayashizaki clove Sakagami’s head clean from his shoulders, sending him to Buddha, in a perfect embodiment of Iai. At last Hayashizaki was able to avenge his father, decisively putting an end to his family’s years of grief.
After performing the Buddhist rites Hayashizaki prepared Sakagami’s head and set off on the long journey back to his hometown. Almost immediately ripples were felt through Kyōto, as the story of Hayashizaki’s vengeance echoed through the streets.

Upon arriving back in his hometown, Hayashizaki told his mother and teacher of his achievements on his pilgrimage, and then proceeded to lay Sakagami’s head atop his father’s grave. He prayed that his father could finally rest in peace, and he went once more to the shrine where it all started. The local village held a festival in his honour to celebrate his bravery, devotion and martial prowess at the shrine. With his mission complete, Hayashizaki offered his Nobukuni sword to the shrine, where it is said to remain to this day.

Sadly the following year in 1562, after many years of hardship Hayashizaki’s mother passed away due to illness and Hayashizaki was orphaned. With no more reason to stay in Hayashizaki village and keen to further improve his swordsmanship, he set out again onto his second Musha Shugyō.

Hayashizaki headed south to Yonezawa, before then proceeding on towards Aizu (West Modern Fukushima Prefecture). There he took short residence in Akai village, Wakamatsu, overall spending three years in southern Tōhoku.
During his brief stay here Hayashizaki took on a number of students from the surrounding area, training them in Iai, and further spreading his style.

Come 1565 Hayashizaki travelled further south into the Kantō region of Japan, and onto Kashima in Ibaraki Prefecture. While travelling around Kashima, he spent his time practicing, and also studied Tenshinshō Shintō Ryū for around three years before setting out on to his next destination. During this time Tsukahara Bokuden was also studying the style from his adopted father.

At twenty-six Hayashizaki took residence with Matsuda Norihide, a direct vassal of the Hōjō clan, where he instructed the clansmen in the martial art he had spent so many years refining. The following year in 1569 Takeda Shingen’s forces attacked Suruga (modern Shizuoka Pref.) storming Kanbara Castle. Under the service of Matsuda, Hayashizaki took part in the subsequent battle of Kanbara Castle, and despite massive losses on both sides Hayashizaki demonstrated his phenomenal skills, and even presented two heads he had claimed from Shingen forces following the battle.
After exhibiting his prowess on the field he received a direct invitation from the Hōjō clan asking him to return to continue instructing martial arts to their soldiers. Over the next few years he continued training and amassing students.

In traditional pilgrimage fashion it was time to depart once more. On the 10th of May 1595 Hayashizaki continued on his path South to Ichinomiya (Modern day Ōmiya, Saitama Prefecture). He lived on the grounds of the local Shintō Shrine where he would spend a total of three years developing his art further and searching for internal harmony.

After many years of wandering, he found himself arriving in Kawagoe City on the 18th of February 1616. During his time in the city he stayed with Takamatsu Kanbei.

The following year he took his leave of Kawagoe, finally heading off in the direction of his home village, only to vanish into the sands of time. His whereabouts after this period, his place of death and location of his grave are unknown, though a humble wooden plaque remains in Kawagoe, signifying his final known resting place.

It is very rare for someone with as much influence as Hayashizaki to have so little recorded of them, however his life and legacy took place amongst long periods of civil upheaval; the fall of the Ashikaga Shogunate and a move towards decentralised government and the Daimyō system, this subsequently cast Japan into the Warring states period. Finally the country would arrive into a time of national unification and peace, the Edo period.

Throughout this turmoil it is thought most records were lost amongst the rise and fall of government. Along with the death of his students in war, many records were simply lost when they changed hands. But despite this he amassed a large number of students who would continue his legacy, create their own military fighting methods, and some who were already famous in their own right.


These students include but are not limited to:
-Takamatsu Kanbei Nobukatsu, Ichimiya Ryū (Takamatsu Line)
-Higashi Shimono no Kami Motoharu, founder of Shinmyō Musō Higashi Ryū
-Tamiya Heibei no Jō Shigemasa, founder of Tamiya Ryū and second generation Jūshin Ryū.
-Nagano Muraku Nyūdō Kinrosai, founder of Muraku Ryū and third generation Jūshin Ryū.
-Ichimiya Sadayū Terunobu Kōshin, founder of Ichimiya Ryū, fourth generation Hayashizaki Shin Musō Ryū (Ichimiya Ryū Tani Ha).
-Sekiguchi Yarokuemon Shinshin Ujimune, founder of Sekiguchi Ryū.
-Katayama Hōki no Kami Hisayasu, founder of Hōki Ryū.
-Sakurai Gorōzaemon Naomitsu, teacher of Mima Yoichizaemon Kagenobu, founder of Suiō Ryū.
-Ashikaga Shōgun Yoshiteru
-Hōjō Ujinao
-Date Chikuzen
-Katakura Kojūrō
-Uesugi Kagekatsu
-Iwanari Chikaranosuke
-Takikawa Sakon
-Senshi Yamashiro no Kami
-Nitta Ichirō
-Sakuraba Hayato
-Matsuda Samanosuke
-Daitōji Suruga no Kami Masashige
-Amakasu Ōmi no Kami
-Utsunomiya Mikawa no Kami
-Nagano Shinano no Kami
-Matsudaira Shuzen
-Okudaira Kuhachirō
-Torii Hikoemon
Etc…


The swordsmanship passed on to a boy of only fourteen has continued for over 450 years, still prospering to this day. No one knows exactly why Hayashizaki Myōjin chose a young boy to receive the secrets of divine swordsmanship. Perhaps it was a moment of compassion by the God, looking down on a boy struggling to survive with his mother. Or even possibly Tamijimaru was destined to be the mouth of God in order for divine Iaijutsu to prosper. It may even have been the plan of a God of War, hungering to carve its way through a country in civil turmoil. Maybe it was the wisdom and devotion needed for man to live through a country in chaos. The only thing that can be certain is that mere men will never understand the workings of Gods.


Timeline of Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu’s life:

1540: Parents Asano Kazuma no Minamoto Shigenari and Sugano were married.

1542: Born on 12th of January.

1547: Father murdered by Sakagami Shuzen.

1549: Entered into Higashine Dōjō to study Kyō Ryū.

1554: Prayed at Hayashizaki Myōjin to improve swordsmanship, mind and technique were not ready.

1556: Performed hundred day prayer at Hayashizaki Myōjin and this time received the secrets of Iai in an epiphany.

1559: Changes name to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu. Masters Kyō Ryū, sets out on Musha Shugyō

1560: -Arrives in Kyōto.
-Awarded Nobukuni sword.
-Defeats Sakagami Shuzen at Tanbakaidō.

1562: Loses his mother Sugano to illness, sets out on second pilgrimage.

1563: Travels from Yonezawa and recruits students at Akai village in Wakamatsu, Aizu.

1565: Studies Tenshinshō Shintō Ryū alongside Tsukahara Bokuden.

1568: Enters into the service of the Hōjō Clan as a martial arts instructor.

1569: Fights in the battle of Kanbara Castle.

1595: Settles onto sacred grounds in Ichinomiya

1598: Leaves Ichinomiya to continue on pilgrimage.

1616: Stays with Takamatsu Kanbei in Kawagoe.

1617: Sets off on final journey back to his hometown, never to be heard of again.

千早振る 神の勲功我受けて 萬代まで傳え残さむ


Notes:
*Many sources cite Hayashizaki’s age as six, and subsequent ages a year older. This is due to the Kazoedoshi tradition in Japan of being classed as one year old at birth, and aging one year at New Year’s.

**More information on the linguistic side of “Kesa no Hitotachi no Seishin” can be found in an article of the same name on this website.

***Many sources claim he received the secret of utilising a long hilt for Iai but this is a mistake. The mistake was born from Higashi Shimono no Kami Motoharu having of a student of similar name: Hayashizaki Jinsuke Katsuyoshi. He was a practitioner of a Shintō Ryū Kenjutsu which purports the benefits of a longer sword and hilt. Tamijimaru inherited the secrets of the longer sword, and the hilt was longer simply for balance purposes. His focus was on instantaneous reaction from the scabbard. Tamiya Heibei no Jō Shigemasa was also a practitioner adept with a sword with a long tsuka to gain distance over your opponent (but not a longer sword).

Author’s comment:
This article was originally intended to be the first article of this website, however it took a lot longer than expected (and definitely a lot longer than intended!) to write. Many problems with dates and places, and at times complete lack of information made this article a challenge to write, hence the why it took so long.
I have tried my hardest to make this as historically accurate as possible, cross-referencing the dates of Hayashizaki’s life across numerous sources, as well as researching the historical events happening at the same times. A lot of time researching and translating was spent on this article. Sadly however, his life was surrounded in mystery, and many legends exist including different birthplaces, ages, times of various events and varying information on his students.
Despite this, I humbly consider that this article is currently the most detailed and accurate account of his life in the English language, condensed into one article, with the majority of anomalies and inaccuracies removed.

Should anyone wish to use the information within this article I would be flattered, but request that I be contacted first, and if permission is given that either myself or this website be cited properly.


Sources read (not all used):
林崎明神と林崎甚助重信林崎甚助源重信公資料研究委員会
林崎抜刀術兵法 夢想神傳重信流 伝書集及び業手付解説木村榮壽
天の剣小野蓮山
詳解 田宮流居合妻木正鱗
無双直伝英信流居合兵法 地之巻政岡壹實
居合道の理論-英信流後藤派入門後藤美基
京都山内派無雙直傅英信流居合術山越正樹
詳解居合 無双直伝英信流三谷義里
古流居合の本道 全解岩田憲一
無雙直傅英信流居合道入門江坂靜嚴
無双直伝英信流加茂治作
夢想神伝流居合紙本栄一
居合-その理合と真髄 壇崎友彰
居合の研究 夢想神伝流 上・下巻松峰達男
夢想神伝流居合道山蔦重吉
写真で学ぶ全剣連居合剣道日本編集部
虎の巻その壹、弐、参、四月刊剣道日本編集部
みんなの居合道剣道時代増刊
居合道基本金田和久
道理を愉しむ居合道講座 石堂倭文
目で見て学ぶ新陰流小山将生

Advertisements

Kenpitsu Issho: The Pen and Sword as One

The stroke of the brush is ultimate, just as the stroke of the sword…

A question was asked on a Koryū Networking Group the other day asking about any links or influences between Budō and Shodō, Japanese Calligraphy. The question caught my attention on a personal level as I have always made the connection between the two due to my own practices in Calligraphy and Iai, and personal frequent analogies of the similarities between the two. After receiving such warm feedback I felt I’d expand on it and make it into a brief article. I hope this is of as much interest to others, as it is to me.

Japan hasn’t always been a literate culture. Originally only the spoken word existed until the introduction of characters by the Chinese around the 6th Century AD. Upon receiving the means to use written words the Japanese were very keen to use this new discovery as much as possible. Centuries later they had become arguably the most literate culture on the planet, recording births, deaths, incomes etc wherever possible. Over the evolution of the written Japanese language numerous different scripts were created for women, scholars, foreign words etc showing just how important writing was to the Japanese as a people.

The same phenomenon existed in Western Europe, China and the Middle East, however the Japanese Martial Arts more than others made excellent use of written media in order to keep their arts alive. By the Edo Period, arguably the Golden Age of Martial Arts, it had become common practice upon entering a Dōjō for one to sign a contract upon entering the school. Your name was then added to the school’s record books, or a small wooden plaque, a Nafudakake (名札掛け) added to the roster. After years of practice you may have been lucky enough to receive a Makimono containing some of the techniques. Various Mokuroku syllabus scrolls and levels of Menkyo, certificates enabling you to teach certain aspects of the art yourself, were handed down from Sensei to Deshi, and were handwritten reproductions of the scrolls the Sensei themselves had received from their teachers. There is more often than not a traceable paper trail showing record of a Ryūha’s evolution from creation to succession.

It is natural then for the Japanese Martial Arts to gain such synonymy with the brush. Not only due to practitioners being so literate, but also the similarities in the physical structures of both Budō and Shodō. I would like to stress that this article so far and especially the content below is drawn from my own (very limited) experiences in Calligraphy and the Sword Arts, and by no means ultimate fact.

The majority of Japanese Sword Arts are broken down into sections, whether Shoden, Chūden, Okuden and Hiden, or Omote, Ura, Gokui etc. The same can be said for Shodō.
In Shodō, the first things one must attain are the tools. A brush, the ink, the paper, the stamp etc are all required tools of the chosen art. The same of Swordsmanship. Without a sword, the attire, the correct instruction etc there is nothing but someone waving a stick. One must then learn to hold the brush, and hold correct posture and technique when practicing, just as with Iai. One must be able to manoeuvre the brush freely to attain the various strokes required in any individual character, as one is required to hold the sword correctly in order to cut efficiently and in the manner required of said technique.

In Shodō, one is first required to study the Kihontenkaku, a collection of basic strokes: Tate, Yoko, Harai etc which build up every Kanji in existence. Just as in Iai one is required to learn the basic Kamae of the school, the various cuts from different angles: Shōmen, Shamen, Kiriage… We then put these individual strokes together to form one Kanji, or one Kata in Swordsmanship.

The basis of calligraphy is Kaisho, the block characters. This is the standard, basic way of writing a character where each individual stroke will look the same in each Kanji. Each individual stroke is performed smoothly and crisply until it becomes a natural movement, slowly allowing an increase in speed of the strokes as they become second nature. This is the Style which one has to perfect first. In other words the Shoden techniques.

Once perfection of the basics is achieved one can move onto Gyōsho, the running script. In Gyōsho the individual strokes begin to flow together. Three strokes may become two, or two can become one long stroke. Although more connected and a more rounded Kanji than Kaisho, the basic Character still forms the heart, and can clearly be seen within it. This is where the Chūden of our sword work is visible. Our techniques should hopefully roll together more smoothly, although seemingly more complex, a firm grasp of the Shoden means that simple adjustments of the individual aspects, go on to form the Chūdengata. In Musō Jikiden Eishin Ryū for example, there is a practice known as Hayanuki, where all Chūdengata are performed as one long smooth Kata, where controlled deceleration and acceleration connect separate movements into one. This is our Gyōsho, where even the gaps between strokes are connected by invisible lines.

Upon perfection of the Gyōsho we’re able to break down the characters, and learn the correct Kuzushikata to write Sōsho, grass style. The Kuzushikata, or how to break down Kanji can be easily learned from just watching. The shape maybe similar, but the essence will be different, however. Only through vast knowledge of strokes and individual Kanji can one start to appreciate Sōsho. This is also where the individual’s roots can be seen. Each character has numerous ways of being broken down for the cursive form, depending on the School, teacher and individual experience of the practitioner. This would be our Okuden. Often with numerous techniques existing, but again each being broken down to the bare essentials. The Okuden techniques tend to appear the most simple, but contain vast amounts of hidden workings gained from years of experience. They flow together into one long, continuous movement, just as Sōsho allows a Kanji to become one long, continuous brush stroke. You can also tend to see who someone’s teacher is or lineage by which version of a technique they perform, just as a Kanji can be recognised as being a certain style of writing.

There are also other ways to write characters such as the Imperial script, Oracle Script or Ancient Scripts (among others). These are not often considered the basic three forms of Shodō. They are supplementary, often more traditional or former arts/ additional styles to aid and deepen understanding of the current standard. This can be seen again in Iai. In Musō Shinden Shigenobu Ryū, there are a vast amount of supplementary arts such as Shin Tamiya Ryū, Itabashi Ryū which aid the understanding of the art as it stands today. Along with a plethora of older or different versions of individual Kata, which now exist as Kaewaza or Henkawaza.

Many famous sword masters such as Nukata Hisashi, Nakayama Hakudō and Yamaoka Tesshu were all very skilled penman, with Yamaoka Tesshu having numerous works published. Perhaps most famous of all is Miyamoto Musashi, writer of the Gorin no Sho, and also a very skilled painter.

I hope this very short analysis is of interest to fellow Budōka and Shodōka alike, and I hope you may even try your hand at one or the other yourself someday.

IMG_1824

The Universal Principles of Budō

Image

A plethora of Martial Arts exist in Japan. From arts dealing with  the sword, some the spear, the bow or empty hand, to those dealing with shouting your opponent to their knees or how to swim in armour. However, within all of the arts which fall under the title of Budō, Bugei or Bujutsu, exists the basic principle “Ichigan Nisoku Santan Shiriki” 「一眼二足三丹四力」.
Arguably four individual aspects, they unite to form the fundamental structure necessary to becoming an accomplished Martial Artist.

Now many may wonder why this article was chosen to be uploaded to a site dedicated to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu and Iai, but the principles which will be discussed are especially important within Iai, and can indeed be applied to all arts descendant of the original Hayashizaki style. Secondly this article was inspired by a lecture given by Kawaji Toshihiro Kyōshi Nanadan, a practitioner of (Hayashizaki Battōjutsu Heihō) Musō Shinden Shigenobu Ryū, one of the arts with a direct lineage to Hayashizaki JInsuke Shigenobu and with Densho leading back hundred of years. Finally, a number of the succeeding arts of the original Hayashizaki style, including the aforementioned, are/were full systems not just composed of Iai, but Ken, Yawara, Yari, Naginata, Bō etc.

Ichigan Nisoku Santan Shiriki, one principle composed of four aspects, each being exceptionally important, however they hold a key order in the development of effective Martial Arts. The phrase itself is quite long for non-Japanese, so it will be broken into its individual aspects and expanded on.

Ichigan: 一眼 First, eyes. The use of the eyes in the Martial Arts is the most important step for beginners and masters alike. It should be developed correctly at an early stage  in one’s training. In the early stages of contact arts and arts with two-man Kata, the eyes are obviously used to look at the opponent, and focus on where one must strike. However the ultimate aim of the artist is to not look at the opponent, but to see them. The physical movement of the eyes gives your intentions off to the opponent, allowing them to read your strikes and move your targets out of striking distance. Seeing your opponent without faltering your eye line is the ultimate goal of Ichigan. The eyes can also be used to take advantage of the opponent. Feign a strike to the arm and the opponent is likely to move their arms, thus opening up the neck. Furthermore, the eyes are used to intimidate and pressure the opponent. Ganzeme眼攻, pressuring/attacking the opponent with the eyes. In other words intimidating them into apprehension and an early defeat.
In those arts based on single-man Kata, the eyes can be argued to play an even more important role. Not only must the above be applied, but the fact there is no physical opponent must also be considered. The eyes have to visualise the opponent whom is not there, and keep fixed on them in order to begin to be able to achieve focus, Ganzeme, Tsukekomi etc.

Ichigan, first master the eyes.

Nisoku: 二足 Second, feet. The use of the feet in martial arts is quite obvious. Incorrect footwork creates poor balance, weak posture, and further weakens the hips and upper parts of the body. The science of this however is paramount. Correct footwork creates a strong grounding and good balance, allowing the practitioner to more smoothly and freely in avoidance, and between strikes. Though when striking, it is the feet leading into the legs, the hips, then Hara etc which provide the power in the strike. Kinetic linking of musculoskeletal groups is started by the feet being in contact with the ground and pushing down. This power is then passed up the legs to the fist/tip of the sword allowing little effort to achieve phenomenal power. Even such arts as Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō Ryū and Takenouchi Ryū both contain sword strikes from mid-air, and the latter Yawara techniques, too.  This is achieved as the power has already been passed into the legs and carried to the Tanden by effective footwork.

Nisoku, second master the feet.

Santan: 三丹 Third, Tanden. The Tanden丹田 is the point in the lower abdomen where correct breathing is said to be controlled by, and where true power is said to be created in Martial Arts. One of the Chakra points in meditative techniques, it was passed to China from India, becoming know as the dāntián丹田 in Gongfu(Kung Fu), and then onto Japan from China. The Tanden is used to develop correct breathing techniques carrying the power from heaven in the air into the body to be combined with the power from the earth draw from the feet to create Ki for strikes. Scientifically speaking modern Martial Artists will tell you that this deeper Tanden breathing allows inhalation of more oxygen thus enriching the blood to bathe the muscles, reducing fatigue and possibility of lactic acid build up. The muscles surrounding the Tanden, the abdominal, gluteal, pelvic, lumbar and dorsal muscles all link together to create an effective, powerful strike with little effort. Utilising the Tanden to initiate this generation of power is the goal of all Martial Artists.

Santan, third master the Tanden.

Shiriki: 四力 Fourth, power. The character 力(riki.ryoku) can be interpreted as meaning strength, but this is not what is need in true Martial arts. Strength implies exertion. Effort mirroring strength, more effort, more strength. This is incorrect in the Martial Arts. To create strength through great effort takes time to build the power into a strike. Time, which allows the opponent to strike you first. Real power is created from through mastery of the above three points. By utilising the eyes to pressure the opponent, the feet draw power up into the Tanden where it is concentrated into power and transferred into the necessary location to deliver a strike. Most high-ranking swordsmen will say “Don’t cut with the arms…”, of course implying that you don’t need massive muscles to hammer the sword down into the target, but by using the Tanden to create power with little effort and achieving a beautiful, yet deadly cut.

Shiriki, fourth master power.

All combined in order, Ichigan Nisoku Santan Shiriki can be seen to be separate, yet completely intertwined aspects which build up into what all students of the Martial way aim to achieve. I hope this shallow article has proven to be of interest, and may some day even help in your training.

Master first the eyes and suppress the opponent, then the feet to become as swift as the wind, utilise heaven and earth in the Tanden to unleash true power unto the opponent

Kesa no Hitotachi no Seishin

Even the gravest of sinners should be shown the path of good men…

When Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu was bestowed with the secrets of Battō from the god of the Kumano Myōjin Shrine in 1554, he was taught what has become arguably the most important concept in not only all schools of Iai branching from the original Hayashizaki style, but also unrelated schools founded since. “Kesa no Hitotachi no Seishin”. The teaching has existed in many forms throughout the evolution of the schools born of Hayashizaki; however, inside and outside of Japan it is rarely discussed.

Giving insight into not only how the student of Iai should compose themselves in conflict situations, but also how one should act in everyday life. Here is a translation of  it as it is found in 「Hayashizaki Battōjutsu Heihō Musō Shinden Shigenobu Ryū」by Kimura Eiju, Sandō no Hanshi.

Kesa no Hitotachi no Seishin: The mindset of  Kesa no Hitotachi

“Do not draw, do not force others to draw. Do not cut, do not force others to cut. Do not kill, do not be killed. Even if one encounters the greatest of sinners, one should kindly offer sermon and show them the path of good men. If the worst occurs and they do not conform, then without hesitation apply Kesauchi and send them to Buddha”.

The Seishin(mindset) appears quite simple. In fact it has remained largely unchanged for the past 450+ years: It has only changed when the Japanese language has changed or someone changes a verb ending. However, in  Japanese it is riddled with ambiguities which I have tried to keep by leaving some of the Japanese terms most Iai/Kendō practitioners would understand as they are.

In Japanese:
袈裟の一太刀の精神

抜くな抜かすな。斬るな斬らすな。殺すな殺されな。仮令、大罪人たりとも懇切に説法し、善人に導くべし。

万一、従はずば詮方無く  袈裟打ちをかけて成仏せしめよ

Now to expand on the linguistic points. The language used in Japanese is taking the Imperative form(命令形) used to express direct orders or forbiddance. For example in the first line, [抜くな] “Do not draw”. The nuance of this point is lost/dulled down when translated into the English language, as we lack any verbal form which has the same impact as the Imperative form has with the Japanese. In addition, the second part of the first two sentences take the Causative form(使役形) which is used to express permission. It is also used, as the name suggests, to express a cause and effect process of making/forcing someone to do something and this is where the first major ambiguity occurs.
If one translates Kesa no Hitotachi in the first way, with the mentality of “letting” someone do something: “Do not draw, do not allow them to draw. Do not cut, do not allow them to cut you…”, then we have a feeling of not giving the opponent the chance to do anything, completely suppressing them. This conjures a very dominant, controlling image, one that implies if the opponent even attempts to strike do not let them and use Kesauchi. The second, however, implies the true form. We should not force anyone to draw on us, nor draw ourselves and thus encourage a response. “Even if the gravest of sinners…(大罪人たりとも…)” In other words one should avoid conflict even with the most evil of criminals in favour of showing them the true way. One must lead by example.

The next major stumbling block for non-native Japanese speakers and Japanese natives alike, is in regards to “Kesauchi”. This is also the reason I left it as Kesauchi in my translation. If I were to translate it in it’s true meaning then the ambiguity and “AH!” moment would have been lost. Again, had I mistranslated it to what most mistake it to mean in order to hide the hidden meaning, then the post would not have made sense.

In sword arts the word Kesauchi(袈裟打ち) tends to go hand in hand with, and is often used as a synonym for Kesagiri(袈裟切り). The obvious difference between the two are the suffixes, yet the first Uchi(打ち) meaning to strike and the second Kiri(切り) meaning to cut are often interchanged. For example: Uchi-oroshi(打ち下ろし) and Kiri-oroshi(切り下ろし) both refer to a downward cut with the sword; Uchi-otoshi(打ち落とし) and Kiri-otoshi(切り落とし) refer to cutting something off or removing something i.e. the opponents head or limbs etc.
Many Koryū (for example Mugai Ryū) prefer to cut along the Kesa (a roughly 45 degree path from the shoulder to the opposite hip) as opposed to Makkō (a vertical overhead cut). One of the remaining Hayashizaki Styles still cuts Kesa as opposed to Makkō. Some reasons being that the torso is a larger target and thus easier to hit, there is also a greater chance of severing the major blood vessels or damaging the internal organs with even a slight blow, it is also harder to avoid an angled cut etc. Therefore, the majority of people assume the last sentence of the Seishin to refer to performing a cut.
“..then without hesitation apply Kesauchi and send them to Buddha.”
in other words, if the opponent still does not venture down the right path then cut them down and send them to the afterlife.

However, as with most aspects of Budō the meaning of Kesauchi is far deeper than a mere cut. There are no teachings of harming others within the dreams Hayashizaki received from the god of the Myōjin Shrine. In  Japan buddhist priests wear a small scarf or a shawl hung diagonally from shoulder to hip, known as a Kesa (hence the diagonal cut became know as Kesagiri).
Often seen in Jidaigeki dramas or old Japanese cinema, when a buddhist priest wishes to save someone from their misdeeds, they would take off their Kesa and place it around the neck of the sinner in order to absolve them, rescue them from punishment and teach them the way. In turn, they would become a fellow monk walking the true path, shave their heads and their previous form would vanish from this world.

This shows that the teachings of Myōjin instruct that the Kesa no Hitotachi (The Kesa Sword) refers to the way of never harming the innocent, and that even if one encounters someone guilty of a crime the “Kesa Sword” should be drawn, Kesauchi be performed and send them on the true path to Buddha. One must overcome one’s own difficulties and show others a self without sin. By aimlessly cutting people one falls into sin oneself, so all conflict is avoided unless to save others. If someone tries to cut us down, we must show them the path in order to save others. After all, if one is killed then one has failed to protect the next victim from being killed, too.

One further interpretation can be found if Kesa and Uchi are separated, and it read as Uchikakeru(打ちかける). Uchikakeru is the old reading for Bukkakeru, meaning to throw something onto something, or over someone. This also adds a further level of mystery and ambiguity as it would obviously refer to casting the scarf around someone’s neck.

An additional comment expanding on the meaning of Kesa no Hitotachi can be found in Kimura Sensei’s book, and was also passed on by his student Nukada Hisashi (Iai Hanshi Kyūdan, Kendō Hanshi Hachidan) and his students.

“That is to say that because the opponent makes contact with his sword, we make contact with our sword. Because the opponent begins to rise up, we also begin to rise up. Because the opponent attempts to draw and cut, then we seize the initiative and perform Nukitsuke first.”

「即ち相手が刀に手をかけるから、こちらが刀に手をかける。相手が立つから、こちらも立つ。相手が抜きつけ切らんとするから、こちらもその先を取り、先に抜きつける。」

There are some more interesting linguistic points used in this follow up sentence, again I have tried to keep a level of mystery in the translation as best I can. Usually in Japanese the Dictionary form(辞書形) followed by “kara”(から)  means because. Therefore the sentences would become:

because the opponent makes contact with the sword, we make contact…” 

Once again we can see that the true nature of the Hayashizaki style is one of reaction, and avoidance of conflict. Further reiterating the fact that even if we sense malcontent we do not act upon it unless(until) the opponent acts upon it. In addition to this, the sentence also does not say anything about the opponent grasping the sword, merely putting his hands on(刀に手をかける). The moment one grasps the sword is the moment one has shown intent to draw. So in reaction to a slight movement we merely make contact with the sword in a slight movement, still not making an effort to draw until the opponent has whole heartedly decided they will attempt to cut us down.

There is also a further emphasis on not harming the opponent unless absolutely necessary by the wording in the last sentence. In reference to the opponent it says “If the opponent attempts to draw and cut” (抜きつけ切らんとする). The fact that it says “attempts to” is extremely important here. It states that the attempt is not successful as we seize the initiative (その先を取り). It further mentions says how we perform Nukitsuke (…抜きつける…). By saying Nukitsuke and not Nukitsukekiru (as it did with the opponent), it demonstrates that the cutting aspect is not present in our actions.

Kamimoto Eiichi (Iai Hanshi Kyūdan, Kendō Hanshi Hachidan) mentioned in an interview (recorded in the book Iai no Meijin(居合の名人) that the suffix Tsuke(ru) used in the term Nukitsuke refers to the controlling and forestalling of an opponent (…相手の機先を制すということ…). The Nukitsuke performed using Kesa no Hitotachi no Seishin is the same. One should perform Nukitsuke to control the opponent just before they cut you, therefore giving them the option to stop at anytime (Referring to showing them the true way which is not of killing, the path of good men). But if they do not yield (if they do not conform to the path of good men) then one applies the true principles of Kesauchi, absolving them of their sins and sending them to Buddha.

I have never heard this concept discussed outside of Japan, nor even in Japan until relatively recently, yet I feel it is a crucial part of Iai that one should always bear in mind while training, or dealing with everyday situations.

Sources:

「林崎抜刀術兵法夢想神傳重信流傳書集及び業手付解説」 木村栄寿著 木村茂喜発行 1981年
「居合道名人伝 上巻」 池田清代著 スキージャーナル刊 2007年
「天の剣」 小野蓮山著 中村秀雄発行 1993年

Hayashizaki Kumano Shrine