Esaka Sensei’s book: “An introduction to MJER Iaido”
English version #04:
In the fall of 1955, in the gymnasium of Shioiri Elementary School in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, I saw my first iaido demonstration.
As I would learn in later years, the swordsman was Hanshi Sano Shigenori Sensei.
Even today, I vividly remember how strongly attracted I was by the iaido techniques, the mysterious movements, and the beauty of the Japanese sword that I was seeing for the first time and how powerfully struck I was by the passion expressed by the techniques, the intensity of spirit, and the wonder of the noble grace and dignity emanating from the sense of motion in stillness and stillness in motion.
At that time, Yokosuka was a U.S. naval base and there was a unique atmosphere, with American soldiers and their families living there.
In the Japan of those days, when circumstances were harsh due to both the social upheaval and devastated public spirit following defeat in the war, I felt strongly how remarkable it was that there were people devoted to protecting the traditions of this ancient martial art.
It is the importance and excellence of Japan’s ancient traditions that elevated our martial arts and established our distinctive spiritual culture, and they are one of the valuable legacies left behind by our past teachers and leaders.
As I thought about this while watching the iaido demonstration, it profoundly stirred my soul, leaving a deep impression.
It became my sincere desire to study it if I had the chance, and that was the first step on the journey that led me to where I am today.
Later on, I would have the opportunity to meet Sano Sensei, and when I spoke to him about a martial arts demonstration in Yokosuka, he said something extremely insightful to me. “You have set foot on a journey from which there is no end – you’ll have to keep walking this path for the rest of your life,” he said, then laughed heartily. Even today, I have not forgotten his expression and advice.
I am deeply grateful that I was able to receive much more of his precious advice on later occasions.
“The essence of swordsmanship is limitless and infinite.” It is my sincere hope that readers will learn the first steps of iaido from this book and develop their ability through personal study and training.
I would be truly delighted if it helps them to keep moving forward on this endless journey while cultivating a strong mind that remains steadfastly focused on the chosen path.
In addition to the waza presented in the book, there are also Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu forms (tachiuchi no kurai), but given that the text has been created with the idea of teaching beginners, these have been omitted.
Furthermore, many other waza such as the tsumeai no kurai are mentioned as part of the tradition in Iaido Shintei (The Essence of Iaido).
Unfortunately, however, I did not receive instruction in these waza from either Headmaster Kono or Headmaster Fukui and they remain unclear to me.
Finally, in taking the photographs for this book, I received exceptional support from photographer Tetsu Yamazaki and his wife Hiroko. Kenichi Kobara of Genshinkan generously consented to the use of his dojo.
I also received support from Tomita Yoshitaka and the students at Genshinkan when taking the photos, and thanks to them, we were able to do so successfully. I appreciate all their help and would like to express my thanks.
I would also like to offer my sincere apologies to Tomoaki Kondo from BAB Japan for making him wait about four years from the planning stage until the book was ready.
I am extremely grateful for the goodwill of the many people involved in this book. Now that it has finally reached the publication stage, I sincerely look forward to sharing it with all of them.