Tribute to Fuji Okimitsu 1939 – 2017
Iaido came to England by various routes and mention should be made here of Fuji Okimitsu (Jikiden style) who was born in 1939 in Saga Prefecture which is the old province of Hizen, a mecca of Martial Arts, famous for the Hagakure (Samurai spirit), he started training at the age of 7yrs playing Shinai Kyogi wearing white trousers, T shirt and rubber shoes using Fukuro Shinai (bamboo sword split into 16 canes and covered with a canvas bag) as the Martial Arts were banned by the American GHQ.
Fuji Sensei was my Iaido teacher and a much loved and respected Sensei based in Dartford Kent for many years and will be fondly remembered by us all from a variety of disciplines as a real character and one of the most friendly Japanese Sensei that we have ever met. In 1988 he named my association ‘Shi Kon’ and drew the kanji that still hangs on my Dojo wall.
He moved back to Japan returning to live and teach in Cornwall for the remainder of his life. I will write a personal account of my training with him at a later date.
Below is a history of his Muso Jikiden Ryu of Iaido and when it branched off into Muso Shinden Ryu.
The warrior Hayashizaki Jinusuki Shigenobu was meditating at the shrine when the vision came….. born in the year 1543 in Tateoka Oshu (now known as Murayama – Shi, north of Tokyo), his father had been killed in a duel by Sakagawa Ichiunsai when he was very young, he had studied Budo assiduously until at the age of 19 he traced Sakagawa to Kyoto and avenged his father by defeating and killing him.
The vision became his inspiriation for Iaijutsu and laid the foundations for modern Iaido as we know it today. Many technical skills in the Japanese arts of Karate (particularly Wado Ryu), Ju Jitsu, Aikido, Judo, Ninjitsu and other Kobudo arts have their roots in this lineage, most Japanese warriors trained in the way of the sword primarily and their unarmed training was Tegatana (hand sword) adapting the same techniques that they used in sword training for other forms of combat.
Hayashizaki had the Ryu (style) named after him and it was also called Muso Ryu meaning “dream” or “vision”, two of the most popular styles of Iaido in Japan and the rest of the world today, Muso Shinden Ryu (Muso meaning “vision” and Shinden, “shrine”) and Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu (the Kanji for Muso here being different meaning “unique and without equal” Jikiden meaning “transmitted direct” and Eishin is the name of the 7th Soke Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin who became Soke in 1610 and made many changes to the style and was regarded a very skilled exponent).
Tamiya Heibi Shigemasa inherited the Ryuka and the main line for Jikiden and Shinden can be traced through him, Hayashizaki also had two other outstanding students, Katayama Hokinokami Hisayasu who founded Hokkiri Ryu and Sekiguchi Hachiroemon Jushin who founded Sekiguchi Ryu.
It was with the 9th Soke in 1675, Hayashi Rokudaiyu Morimasa that Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu became firmly established in the Kochi area right through to the 19th Soke. Hayashi was a retainer to General Yamanouchi with the Shogun Tokugawa, up until this time the Iaijutsu forms only incorperated Tachi Waza (standing) and Tate Hiza (a way of kneeling wearing battle armour) as they were all that were required for battleground techniques, it was Hayashi’s Kenjutsu teacher Omori Rokurozaemon who invented Omori Ryu to incorperate into the style utilising Seiza techniques for an indoor situation. He used Hakama Sabaki (methods of manoevering the Japanese traditional costume when moving), Metsuka (way of using the eyes), Nukitsuke (drawing and cutting in one flowing movement) and Chiburi (blood shake of the sword) all techniques that would not be required on the open battlefield.
The 11th Soke (1742), Okuro Motouemon Kiyokatsu had two outstanding students, Hayashi Masunojo Masatake, who became the 12th Soke in 1779, continuing the Jikiden line and Matsukishi Sadasuki who using the same style renamed it Muso Shinden Batto Jutsu which later became Muso Shinden Ryu.
Around 1910 Iaijutsu ceased to be confined to definite areas and various Ryuka became popular throughout Japan and at the beginning of the Showa period at around 1925 that Iaijutsu became known as Iaido (Do meaning “the way” as in the Chinese Tao).
The Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Seitigata Iai came into being in 1969 producing at first seven forms, building them eventually to ten (reflecting the ten Kendo kata) categorising the basic movements of Iai from the Shinden and Jikiden styles with some characteristics from the Hokki style. The Seiti forms are used at gradings enabling practioners from all styles to grade together, it is a bit like Shotokan and Wado Karate practioners integrating the Pinan and Heian Kata producing a standard set of forms to reflect both styles and using them for grading purposes so that the other Kata reflecting the differences in their styles could still be practised!
The following is a list of the lineage for Jikiden and Shinden ryu:
- Hayashizaki Jinusuke Shigenobu
- Tamiya Heibei Shigemasa
- Nagano Muraku Nyudo Kinrosai
- Dede Gunbeinoje Mitsushige
- Arikawa Masaemon Munetsued
- Manno Danueimon Nobumasa
- Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin
- Arai Seitetsu Kiyonobu
- Hayashi Rokudaiyu Morimasa
- Hayashi Yasudaiye Masataka
- Okuro Motouemon Kiyokatsu
Here the style splits into the two branches:
|12.||Hayashi Manonoso Masatake||Matsukichi Sadasuki|
|13.||Yoda Manzo Takakatsu||Yamakawa Kyuso|
|14.||Hayashi Yadayu Masataka||Shimomura Ichisada|
|15.||Tanimura Kamenoso Yorio||Hosokawa Yoshimasa|
|16.||Goto Magobei Seiryo||Nakayama Hakudo|
2 thoughts on “Iaido – The Cutting Edge”
hi ,I have collected fujii sensei,s life from his own words for years . he had no shoes or foot protection till he was 12yrs and had no shinai but used willow branches which kamo sensei helped them make . he was such a great friend and sensei and miss him so much glad articles keep his memory alive brian ford