Iai and Iaido: Explore the Art of Drawing the Sword with our IAI Videos Library

Welcome to our page dedicated to the study and practice of Iaido, a classical Japanese martial art that focuses on the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword from its scabbard, striking or cutting an opponent, removing blood from the blade, and then replacing the sword in the scabbard.

Iaido, or Iaijutsu, centers around Iai, the art of drawing the sword, which itself is a significant component of Kenjutsu, the overarching term for Japanese swordsmanship. It offers a fascinating opportunity to explore the rich history, intricate techniques, and profound philosophical underpinnings of Japanese martial arts.

[Fig Beginning]This page and the Muso Shinden Iai Videos (Movies) are a mirror (a close mirror) to the pages that used to be at http://iai.whaleeaters.org/. I am not sure where those pages and videos came from or where they went, but they are very much worth saving for anyone interested in iaijutsu or iaido. These are mirrored here for the prosperity of iai. They are not in any way my work or to be construed as anything other than a place for people to view the beauty of iai.

As likely as other Japanese traditional martial arts, Iai branches into many schools and styles, though almost all of them are derived from a common mythological founder, named Jushin (or Shigenobu, HAYASHIZAKI Jinsuke, etc). Muso Shinden is also one of the successors of Jushin style.

HAYASHIZAKI Shigenobu appeared circa 1560 – 1570, and devised some forms of sword-drawing arts (i.e., Batto Jutu, an alternative Japanese name of Iai) for the first time, defending against enemies’ sudden attack, or quickly and secretly assassinating those who were nominated by his boss.

The civil war state of Japan was ceased by the final winner, Shogun Ieyasu, by the middle of the 17th century. Some new styles of Iai arts were introduced and merged in. In almost cases the assassin is supposed to be a mission sent to the enemies’ house. The guest would make his best effort to persuade, disarm, or arrest the host. It was of course a dangerous task. When the host would refuse or resist, the guest should use force to complete the mission, as well as to defend himself. These situations seem very common even in the peace period of Edo, so the arts of Iai would have been still developed. Today we would regard Iai as a dance, a sport, or a spiritual training, but until recently it has been a real technique to kill men as certainly as possible.

The guest and host would be sitting and talking to each other face to face (the original meaning of “Iai” comes from this situation; “I” in “Iai” means sitting, and “ai” means facing). The sudden attack is sometimes effective when the enemies are relaxing or not facing directly, e. g. when bowing or saying good bye…

The living style was also over-formalized in the Edo Period. The manner of daily life (known as “Ogasawara” style) describing how to eat, drink, walk, enter and leave the room, open and close the door, sit down and stand up, was invented in this time which the former Samurai people were never accustomed to. Even ordinary people started using the “Tatami” flooring in their houses and sitting on it in “Seiza” (formal sitting) pose.

Needless to say, this change affected the Iai styles. Older sitting pose is more relaxing and physically easy, but newer Iai styles adopted the “Seiza” pose. It means we could distinguish original forms from newly invented ones observing the sitting poses. The name “Iai” may occurred after Seiza sitting on the soft Tatami floor became popular in Edo Period.

[Tatehiza]Eishin (or HASEGAWA Hidenobu) was supposed to be a quite important reformer of Shigenobu style in middle 18th century. Later, Oomori style was introduced into Eishin style, which became a mixture of verious styles, including sitting, standing, and Seiza forms. This was the direct ancestor of “Muso Shinden” and “Muso Jikiden” (or “Muso Jikiden Eishin”) styles. “Muso Shinden” and “Muso Jikiden” are quite similar. Both has the same sound “Muso” (the name was said to be given by Tycoon Hideyoshi, when his tournament was held).

Now we know that today’s Iai styles have been modified a lot since it was first established. Also the commercial movies, TV shows, comics, dramas, and street performance could be the source of our confusion and misunderstanding. You (Foreigners as well as Japanese) hear before that the Japanese martial arts are based on manners and etiquettes, starting with respect and ending also with respect. But at least in the days of the Samurai Wars, rudeness was a more preferable virtue than such politeness.

[Fig Ikitigai]Muso Shinden consists of three parts described below: the first, second levels, and profound level.

The First Level

This level is originally called Oomori style, imported in the 18th century. It seems there is no relationship with the original Shigenobu style. The forms of this level start in Seiza pose except the 10th, which starts with a standing pose. The naming of forms are too much sophisticated (maybe influenced by Chinese literature or philosophy), or sometimes no meaning. This means these forms are not quite old.

It could be said that these forms were a mere formalization, or an invention for beginners training.

  1. Shohat-To First (it is called Mae (Forward) in Muso-Jikiden).
  2. Sa-To Left
  3. U-To Right
  4. Atari-To (Usiro (Back)).
  5. In-Yo-Shin-Tai (Yaegaki).
  6. Ryu-To (Ukenagasi).
  7. Jun-To (Kaishaku)
  8. Gyaku-To (Tukekomi or Oikiri)
  9. Seichu-To (Tukikage)
  10. Koran-To (Oikaze)
  11. In-Yo-Shin-Tai Kaete
  12. Bat-To (Nukiuti)

The Middle Level

This level is also called the Hidenobu (Eishin) style. The last form “Nukiuti” starts in “Seiza” pose, but this is an exception. The rests start in the older sitting pose “Tatehiza”. The naming of forms is like poems (pseudo-archaic elegant style, which literate people, not warriors, tend to use). This style maybe a collection of older forms, revised to apply to modern situations by HASEGAWA Hidenobu, who is an officer worked for Nagoya Tokugawa Family.

  1. Yokogumo Horizontal Clouds
  2. ToraIssoku Tiger’s One Step
  3. Inaduma Thunderbolt
  4. Ukigumo Floating Clouds
  5. Yamaorosi Downhill Storm
  6. Iwanami Rock and Wave
  7. Urokogaesi Scaling Off
  8. Namigaesi Backwash
  9. Takiotosi Waterfall
  10. Nukiuti Sudden Attack. It also called Joi-uti (punishment ordered by the boss). Maybe a very common assassinating technique.
[Fig Tuki]

The Profound Level

It is called “Oku Iai” in Japanese. “Oku” means “hidden” or “internal”. It seems a collection of real techniques once used for killing enemies. The name “Oku” implies that these forms were confidentially inherited and have never been exposed to other Iai sects? I doubt they were really treated as secret. I think these forms are simply old and original, have been treated as sacred ones.

Divided into two parts: sitting and standing. Itomagoi starts in Seiza pose, though. Standing Forms seem rather old.

Sitting Forms

  1. Kasumi Fog
  2. Sunegakoi Covering the Knee
  3. Sihogiri Attack Around
  4. Todume Both Front
  5. Towaki Both Front, Obstacles Behind
  6. Tanasita Under the Shelf. hide in the shelf, crawl out, then beat.
  7. Ryozume Forward Quick Attack.
  8. Torabasiri Tiger Run
[Fig Sodome]

Standing Forms

These forms are very exciting and realistic. I love them very much.

  1. Ikidure 1 Going Side by Side 1. There are two enemies in the right and left side, walking. Maybe you are arrested by them, trying to escape.
  2. Ikidure 2 Going Side by Side 2
  3. Turedati Going Together. There are one in front right and the other back left.
  4. Somakuri Atack and Attack. Wind sword around to smash surrounding enemies.
  5. Sodome Attack One After Another. Enemies are in a row coming towards through a relatively narrow path.
  6. Sinobu Secret Attack. It is also called Yami-uti (Attack in the Darkness). Oh! how unfair this technique is !? You approach your enemy from his behind in the dark, slowly, quietly, click against the road the tip of the sword to divert the enemie’s attention, then beat from opposite side.
  7. Ikitigai Encounter Attack. There are two enemies coming towards in a row, when you reach between them, first stab the behind, then hit the front.
  8. Sodesurigaesi Pushing Through the Crowd. You find your enemy beyond the crowd on the street. Draw out the sword first, pushing your way through the crowd, then reach and strike down onto the enemy.
  9. Moniri Entering Through the Gate. Walk toward the gate, lower the body, stab the first coming enemy, then strike others.
  10. Kabezoi By the Wall. Beyond the enemy there is a wall preventing from swinging the sword around.
  11. Ukenagasi Receive and redirect the enemies attack.
  12. Itomagoi 1 Farewell 1. While saying good bye, suddenly draw out your sword, then swing vertically onto the opponent’s head, smash at one stroke, before he notices what happens. Farewells are supposed to be a modification of Nukiuti. Farewell 1 bow slightly.
  13. Itomagoi 2 Farewell 2 bow more deeply
  14. Itomagoi 3 Farewell 3 bow quite deeply, it will hide your sword-drawing action from the opponent.


[Fig Tiburui]

About These Movies

These Iai arts were performed by NAGAE Matasaburo, in his sixties (guess). He was born and lived in Nagasaki, and received the 7th grade of Kendo and 8th grade of Iai from Zen-Nippon Kendo Renmei (All-Japan Kendo Federation). He also practiced Shinto Munen style Iai. The original movies were recorded in 8mm films, then edited in a VHS tape (the image quality is awful). It’s not known who took and maintained these films (maybe one of Matasaburo’s disciples did). They were converted to DV (digital video) format, stored in HDD, and finally created QuickTime H.263 format (360×240, 15fps, compressed).

You may freely redistribute these movies for the sake of the prosperity of Iai arts./

Iai and Iaido Video Library

Our video library is a vital resource for anyone interested in delving into the world of Iai and Iaido. Whether you’re a beginner taking your first steps, an intermediate student seeking to refine your skills, or an advanced practitioner eager to delve deeper, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge and inspiration here.

Our video library includes:

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Check out our Iaido video library below and embark on your journey into the captivating world of Iai. Stay connected for new video additions and updates to continue honing your understanding and appreciation of this remarkable martial art.

Remember, while videos can provide significant insights and learning, nothing beats training under the guidance of a qualified Iaido instructor. We encourage all interested individuals to find a local dojo or training center where they can practice this martial art in a safe and supervised environment.

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