Esaka Sensei’s book: “An introduction to MJER Iaido”
English version #01:
Introduction to Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaido
In January 1958, I became a student of Fukui Torao Sensei (who in February 1975 succeeded to the position of Seito 21st Headmaster of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, under the name of Seizan), and from 1961 onward, I also studied directly under Fukui Sensei’s teacher, Kono Minoru Hyakuren, the Seito 20th Headmaster. My iaido spirit and technique were both cultivated in a highly privileged environment, and I first wish to express my profound gratitude and appreciation for being blessed with such an opportunity.
I have organized the many teachings I received from the two headmasters and compiled them here along with photos and illustrations, in the hope that they will serve as a study resource and help beginners aiming to practice Seito Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu to understand the various basic waza and techniques.
Moreover, I have collected these teachings with the determination to faithfully uphold the instruction of both Headmaster Kono and Headmaster Fukui to study with a strong belief in passing down the forms of Seito Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu without making the slightest change.
This book is based mainly on Headmaster Kono’s books Dai Nippon Iaido Zufu (Illustrated Guide to Greater Japan’s Iaido), Zoho Saihan Dai Nippon Iaido Zufu (Illustrated Guide to Greater Japan’s Iaido: New Expanded Edition), and Iaido Shintei (The Essence of Iaido) as well as his oral teachings, supplemented with explanations aimed at beginners to make the text as readable as possible. Furthermore, as supplemental explanatory material, I have organized and included some notes I wrote down over the years regarding the details of daily practice.
I began keeping these records around January 1961, when I prepared a highly rudimentary note based on a photo of Headmaster Fukui. Then, when Headmaster Kono visited Gifu Prefecture for training, I was fortunate enough to have him look at my notes, and he kindly encouraged me to make them more detailed, and since then I have gradually taken more and more notes on the circumstances of training and matters that caught my attention.
Among these notes are many precious lessons, such as teachings from Headmaster Fukui and instructions received from Headmaster Kono. I have included these records here as an aid to understanding the waza.
This book has been published solely out of a strong desire to assist beginners with their training.
As much as possible, the contents have been put together with the aim of supporting beginning practitioners seeking to follow this path of study. The book presents elementary and fundamental information relating to the procedures for waza (i.e., the movements for each individual technique), while positions and the like are represented with diagrams and figures that provide general guidelines. Moreover, the commentary on each waza is based on the notes I took for my own training mentioned above.
However, there are many areas where my knowledge is truly limited, my ability is lacking, and my understanding and embodiment of the waza are inadequate, and I feel somewhat uncertain about whether I have conveyed the main idea of the waza and techniques.
I have drawn on my memories of the two headmasters’ exploits in preparing this text and published it while recognizing that it is truly presumptuous of me to do so, given that my own training is incomplete and I still have a long path ahead of me.
It is most unfortunate that neither Headmaster Kono nor Headmaster Fukui was able to review the content. I pray that their spirits above are at peace, and in closing, I dedicate this book to them.
Esaka Seigen, 10th Dan, Hanshi, Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaido
About This Book/Annotations
○“F” photos are taken from the front opponent’s position and “S” photos from the left side.
○Photos were taken with two different cameras, one in the front and one on the side.
As a result, please note that some variation between the respective stances may occur.
Abbreviation of Waza Names in Text
Waza names are expressed using abbreviations, such as “Seiza/first – mae” or “First – mae” for “Seiza no bu – first – mae.”
Commentary and Boxed Text
As mentioned in the Foreword, the book provides explanations based on various notes that I took on daily practice in the form of commentary and boxed text. In addition to these, various notable teachings and rules which were published in Dai Nippon Iaido Zufu (Illustrated Guide to Greater Japan’s Iaido), Iaido Shintei (The Essence of Iaido), and the pamphlet Iaido Shintei Gaisetsu (Overview of the Essence of Iaido), such as the “36 Principles for Beginners,” “The Fundamentals of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaido,” and “Concerning the Rules for the School’s Waza,” are also covered in the commentary and boxed text.
In preparing this book, I have explained various rules and laws at the points in the text where relevant techniques are discussed in order to facilitate understanding.
Please note that sources have been omitted since it was not possible to specify them in every single instance.