The History of Shinshin-ryu Iaijutsu

Shinshin-ryu Iaijutsu was founded by Sekiguchi Yagouemon Ujinari of the Imagawa clan (in the Eiroku Era). After the destruction of the Imagawa family, Ujinari became enlightened in the secrets of Iai at the base of Mt. Atago. After the battle of Sekigahara, his Iai spread widely among the vassals of the Tokugawa Shogunate.  It was passed on within the domains of Hikone, Kuwana, Matsushiro, Mino-Iwamura, Nishio, and Bishu. In the Nishio domain, Shinshin-ryu Iaijutsu was handed down by the vassals of the Matsudaira-Izuminokami family.

居合 ( iai/ ) ( wa/ ) ( ima ) ( da/ ) ( mono/ ) ( no/ ) ( has ) セザルノ内 ( sezaru/no/uchi/ ) ナリ ( nari ) 先ノ先 ( saki/no/saki/ ) トテ ( tote/ ) ( saya/ ) ノ内 ( no/uchi/ ) ニアリ ( ni/ari ) モト ( moto/ ) ( teki/ ) ( wo/ ) ( ki ) ルノ先 ( ru/no/saki/ ) ニアリ ( ni/ari ) 先ノ ( saki/no/ ) 居合 ( iai/ ) ( wo/ ) 大極 ( taikyoku/ ) ( no/ ) 太刀 ( tachi/ ) ( to/ ) ( i ) フナリ ( u/nari ) ( kore/ ) ( yue/ ) ( ni/ ) ( nu ) ( ki/ ) ( hana ) テバ ( teba/ ) 剣術 ( kenjutsu/ ) トナル ( to/naru ) 。Shinshin-ryu Iaijutsu Okuden)

Totally different from modern Kendo, whose emphasis is on acquiring titles and rank, Shinshin-ryu has the objective of studying spiritual and philosophical subjects, such as “Body, Mind, and Technique are One” and“The Harmony of All Things.” These are lessons that can be used in our daily lives, to benefit us every day.

Shinshin-ryu Iaijutsu’s Lineage
●初祖 関口弥伍右衛門氏成 ●二代 久世十太夫
Founder: Sekiguchi Yagouemon Ujinari 2nd Headmaster: Kuze Judayu

●三代 山路甚左ェ門

●四代 志賀太弥兵衛
3rd: Yamaji Jinzaemon 4th: Shiga Tayabei

●五代 熊倉彦衛門

●六代 猪川弥左ェ門
5th: Kumakura Hikoemo 6th: Inogawa Yazaemon

●七代 坂田茂平次(通貫)

●八代 鈴木助次郎
7th: Sakata Moheiji 8th: Suzuki Sukejiro

●九代 稲垣雄之助

●十代 亀谷鎮
9th: Inagaki Yunosuke 10th: Kamegai Shigeru

●十一代 山田昌孝
11th: Yamada Yoshitaka

The Birth of Shinshin-ryu Iai

 If we look carefully at post Meiji Restoration accounts of Sekiguchi Yagoemon Ujinari’s Sekiguchi Shinshin-ryu, for example in the Bugei Ryu Ha Dai Jiten (BRHDJ), etc., we can see that the lineages provided are somewhat suspect.  In those accounts, after the Battle of Okehazama, members of the Sekiguchi clan, who were members of the Lord’s Guard and of the Council of Elders (as chief retainers, and castle lords) for the Imagawa clan, either died on the field of battle or fell into ruin and went into hiding, and many of the Imagawa generals disappeared.

 “After this, the genealogy is unclear again.  However, of the Sena clan, Sekiguchi Gyobu Shoho Ujihiro committed suicide after Okehazama, so the only Sekiguchi with any importance left alive up until the Tensho era was Tsukiyama Gozen, Ujihiro’s daughter and the wife of Matsudaira Motoyasu.”

 It has been said that within the various branches of Sekiguchi-ryu, the so-called founder of the jujutsu branch that was so famous after the Meiji Restoration, Sekiguchi Yarokuemon Ujimune (Kishu Tokugawa), was also responsible for creating the Iai portion of the curriculum when founding Sekiguchi-ryu. However, there are many points that are vague and unclear in these biographies.

 Even though it is uncertain whether Sekiguchi Gyobu Shoho Ujihiro even had a son, if his son was Geki Ujiyuki, then the family line continuing with Tsukiyama Gozen’s son, Nobuyasu, and his wife, Princess Kano, as it is written in the BRHDJ, is implausible. This mistake is further compounded by the fact that Nobuyasu’s wife was actually Princess Toku, and Princess Kano (also known as Princess Kame) was Tsukiyama Gozen’s daughter, and Nobuyasu’s sister. She married Okudaira Nobumasa.

 There are also many problems with subsequent descriptions, as the document cannot be considered very reliable if looked at with the common sense of a historian (the BRHDJ has as many mistakes as are found in some rural genealogies that were written without much serious effort). Doing a simple comparison of dates shows that the time period when Yarokuemon Ujimune and Yagouemon Ujinari (who is recorded as the mysterious Ujimune’s nephew) are alive, do not add up.

 Consequently, I feel that referring to the connection to the Tokugawa family that was formed through the historically famous Tsukiyama Gozen should be disregarded.  It is more useful to emphasize the connection that was formed between Tokugawa Ieyasu and Ujinari, as shown by Sekiguchi Shinshin-ryu’s sacred object being Mt. Kunou, the incarnation of Mt. Atago.

 What we know for sure is that the founder of Sekiguchi Shinshin-ryu temporarily moved from Suruga to Mikawa, and when he returned to Suruga he founded the style.  Therefore, Sekiguchi Shinshin-ryu began in Suruga, and seems to have spread from there to Edo, and then to the whole country.

 Sekiguchi Ujihiro’s daughter, Tsukiyama Gozen, was Tokugawa Ieyasu’s first wife. It was from the time after the fall of the Imagawa family that Sekiguchi Shinshin-ryu was born, due to the fact that Tsukiyama’s daughter, Princess Kano was a member of the Tokugawa family. In addition to this, Tsukiyama’s mother was a member of the Ii clan and in their protective custody, so Shinshin-ryu spread to the Ii family as well.
(Note)  As an aside, it is unclear whether Sekiguchi Geki was the same person as the one in Musashi province around the Tensho era?

The Birth of Shinshin-ryu


2.Kishu Sekiguchi-ryu

3.Even assuming that the Kumamoto Sekiguchi-ryu Iai sword art is the same, is Edo
 Shinshin Sekiguchi-ryu older? Is Kishu Sekiguchi-ryu older?

 These are the subjects to be dealt with, but it seems to me that Sekiguchi-ryu Iai was founded in Suruga first, and that the jujutsu portion came afterwards and completed the Kishu Tokugawa Sekiguchi-ryu. We need to use reliable documents, such as the “Aristocratic Lineage”, the “Kanei Era Samurai Families’ Genealogies”, and the “Imagawa Genealogy”, to examine the role played by the Sekiguchi family.

 Mikawa Ashikaga Nagauji’s grandson, through his second son, was Kuniuji, and he was the founder of the Imagawa line.  Kuniuji's second son was Sekiguchi Jirou Tsuneuji, but his line ended with him.  However, the fifth son, Sekiguchi Gorou Tsunekuni’s line did continue on, and this became the main line of the Sekiguchi family.  The seventh head of the family, and Lord of Hanasaki Castle, was Sekiguchi Ecchunokami (Gyobu Daiho) Ujiroku.  In 1560, he died during the fighting which occurred after Oda Nobunaga’s surprise attack at the battle of Okehazama. At the time he was a member of Imagawa Yoshimoto’sLord’s Guard (as a Hatamoto and a member of the Council of Elders). At the battle of Okehazama there were around 3 other people going by the name of Sekiguchi.

 In a separate Imagawa samurai family line, a member of the Sena clan, Sekiguchi Gyobu Shoho Ujihiro, was Imagawa Yoshimoto’s brother-in-law.  As recorded in an entry in “Tennouji Yasoutatsu’s Tea Ceremony Diary” (April, 1557), it appears that the commander named Sekiguchi Gyobu was the same person as Ujihiro.  Ujihiro was not at the battle of Okehazama, but it appears that he was in the capital, waiting for Yoshimoto, and eventually committed suicide in 1562.

 In the entry for Sekiguchi-ryu, the BRHDJ asks whether Ujihiro’s son, Geki Ujiyuki, really existed.  He is doubted to have existed because it is not recorded in any genealogy that Tsukiyama Gozen had siblings.  However, even if he did exist, he would be connected with the Kishu Sekiguchi-ryu, while Sekiguchi Yagoemon Ujinari’s Shinshin-ryu could have been connected with Ecchunokami Ujiroku’s main line.  If that’s the case, and we use the Shinshin-ryu scrolls to count backwards, then he would have been a boy of 15 or 16 at the time of the Battle of Okehazama.

 To expand on this a little further, according to Sekiguchi Yagoemon Ujinari’s Shinshin-ryu scrolls, Ujinari was the first Soke of the ryu, Hattori Mitsuyasu was the second, and the third was an Imperial Soldier named Yamada Saburo.  On April 2, 1649, Saburo initiated Yoshida Hachiro into the secrets of the ryu.

 During the latter half of the Edo period, people, on average, received Menkyo Kaiden when they were over the age of 30.  Therefore, 3 generations before Yamada Saburo would mean that Ujinari was born around 100 years before, in 1551.  In 1560, when the Battle of Okehazama takes place, he would have been 9 years old, but if he was born a little earlier, in the 1540s for example, then his participation in the Battle of Okehazama becomes possible.  Because of this, it is entirely conceivable that he was a member of the family line of Sekiguchi Ecchunokami Ujiroku (an Imagawa retainer and member of the Council of Elders), or even a member of one of the other Sekiguchi family lines.

  According to the BRHDJ, Sekiguchi Geki Ujiyuki, who served Princess Kano (she married Okudaira Sadamasa at 17 years of age.  Okudaira died defending Nagashino Castle, during the Battle of Nagashino in 1575), and Yagouemon Ujinari were around the same age, thus making it unlikely that one was the other’s grandson.

  The Matsudaira-Izuminokami and Shinshin-ryu

  Matsudaira-Izuminokami is a family line within the Ogyu-Matsudaira family, as recorded in the Matsudaira genealogy dating from the end of the Muromachi period.  Tokugawa Ieyasu’s lineage shows that he was a descendant of Nagachika, who was Chikatada’s second son.  Chikatada’s eldest son was Norimoto, and he was the founder of the Ogyu-Matsudaira line.  The daughter of Ieyasu’s grandfather, Kiyoyasu, married into the Ogyu-Matsudaira family, so there was always a strong relationship between the two.

  Shinshin-ryu was popular elsewhere until the end of the Tokugawa period, but it is unclear as to if and when a member of the Izuminokami family created Shinshin Sekiguchi-ryu Iai.  It is also unclear when instructors for the Izuminokami started teaching all of the Izuminokami vassals Yagyu Jyubei Mitsuyoshi’s line of Shinkage-ryu, Yoyu Kenjutsu, or Kokki-ryu.   However, the oldest family among the Izuminokami retainers was the Imai clan.  The next oldest was the Suzuki clan, of which my ancestor was a member, and the secret teachings of Shinshin-ryu were transmitted to him at the end of the Edo period, just like those of the Yagyu-ryu. Thus, it is thought that for the Matsudaira-Izuminokami, Shinshin-ryu Iai was considered just as important as Yagyu-ryu.

  Izuminokami family members even had powerful and influential positions within the Tokugawa Shogunate, as hereditary members of the Shogun's Council of Elders and the Chief Ministry among others, and it is known that since the Momoyama period, Shinshin-ryu was already recognized as a nobleman’s kenjutsu.

  Although Sekiguchi Yagouemon Ujinari was not an instructor to the Shogun, nor to one of the Three Tokugawa Families, his dojo in Edo did serve the Shogunate and was patronized by the vassals of some powerful Daimyo.

  Since Sekiguchi Yarokuemon Ujimune’s branch of the ryu served the Kishu Tokugawa during the Kanei era, all of Kishu Sekiguchi-ryu’s documents and oral transmissions were able to be announced after the Meiji Restoration, and thus that branch was widely known after the Shogunate fell.

  After the Tokugawa Shogunate was overthrown, this style was almost lost because the Bishu, Kishu, and Higo domains supported the Imperial Army.  Thus, it is much more important to carry on the sword techniques of Shinshin-ryu, than try to answer all the questions surrounding its founding.

(Note)  The eighth Soke, Suzuki Sukejiro Sensei was from a samurai family in the Nishio domain.  He went into hiding after the Meiji Restoration and worked as a groundskeeper in Mino Mugi Junior High School.

                                Sept. 10th, 1987

[1] 新心流- the characters literally mean “New Heart/Mind School”.  This name was chosen to reflect the fact that you should approach your training with a new, or fresh, heart and mind everyday.  Throughout this essay Shinshin-ryu is also referred to as Sekiguchi Shinshin-ryu and Shinshin Sekiguchi-ryu.  In the past these names, along with a few others, all referred to the same school.  At present the school based in Gifu-ken is called Shinshin-ryu Iaijutsu or Shinshin Sekiguchi-ryu Iaijutsu.  The school based in Wakayama is called Sekiguchi-ryu Jujutsu.  The school based in Kumamoto is called Sekiguchi-ryu Battojutsu.

[2] 1558 to 1570

[3] At the Battle of Okehazama in 1560

[4] 愛宕山- this is a mountain in Kyoto where a god worshipped in many different Budo is enshrined.  Ujinari most likely learned Iai techniques from the warrior monks or mountain warriors who lived there.

[5] In the year 1600 in Gifu Prefecture.  This battle effectively unified the country and established Tokugawa Ieyasu as the Tai Shogun.

[6] On the Eastern shore of Lake Biwa in Shiga Pref.

[7] Kuwana city, Mie Pref.

[8] Nagano city, Nagano Pref.

[9] Ena city, Gifu Pref.

[10] Southern Aichi Pref.

[11] Western Aichi Pref.

[12] This saying should be studied individually throughout one’s training.  The meaning will change depending on the student’s understanding of Iai.  A very basic meaning is that Iai is a way of training oneself according to the principles of the sword.

[13] ( しん ) 技体 ( ぎたい ) 一如 ( いちにょ ) (Shin, Gi, Tai, Ichi Nyo)

[14] 万物 ( ばんぶつ ) 和合 ( わごう ) (Banbutsu Wa Gou)

[15] 1868

[16] Written by Wataya and Yamada in 1969.  The title means “The Comprehensive Dictionary of Martial Art Schools.”

[17] In June 1560 in Aichi Pref. In this battle, a vastly outnumbered Oda Nobunaga defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto and established himself as one of the front-running warlords of the Sengoku period (approx. 1467-1603).

[18] 馬廻り衆- literally “Surrounding the horse.” Elite unite of bodyguards whose job it was to guard the General/Daimyo on the battlefield.

[19] A council used to advise the Lord on important matters.

[20] Also known as Sekiguchi Chikanaga.  He died 1562.  He was an Imagawa retainer who held Mochibune Castle in Suruga Province and was Imagawa Yoshimoto’s brother-in-law.

[21] 1573-1592

[22] Died 1579.  She lived in Shizuoka Pref.  She was killed by Ieyasu in 1579 because she was suspected of plotting against Ieyasu, but her being from a rival clan, the Imagawa, may have played a part.

[23] He later changed his name to Tokugawa Ieyasu, to emphasize his connection to the prestigious Seiwa Genji (Minamoto), and thus making it more legitimate that he become the first Shogun of the Edo era. He lived from 1543-1616.

[24] This quote is taken from the “Tennouji Yasoutatsu’s Tea Ceremony Diary”

[25] AKA- Jyushin.

[26] Wakayama Pref.

[27] The BRHDJ states that Jyushin studied Iai with Hayashizaki Jinsuke, founder of Shin Muso Hayashizaki-ryu, and Jujutsu with Miura Yojiuemon, founder of Miura-ryu.

[28] The BRHDJ states that Sekiguchi Geki Ujiyuki is the son of Ujihiro and the father of Ujimune (Jyushin), the founder of Sekiguchi-ryu.

[29] Tokugawa’s first son and lord of Okazaki Castle (Aichi Pref.), but ordered by Ieyasu, through Oda Nobunaga, to commit seppuku in 1579 when he was believed to be a part of a plot against Oda.

[30] Tsukiyama Gozen was Ujihiro’s daughter, so if he had had a son the family line would continue with him, in this case Ujiyuki.  Since the family line continued through Tsukiyama Gozen, it is unlikely that he had a son.

[31] Oda Nobunaga’s daughter

[32] AKA Okudaira Sadamasa.  His change of loyalty led directly to the Battle of Nagashino.  Takeda Katsuyori had Sadamasa’s wife (Tokugawa’s daughter) and brother ? hostages of the Takeda ? crucified for this.

[33] In the Sekiguchi-ryu lineage found in the BRHDJ.

[34] A mountain in Shizuoka with the Toushou (東照宮) shrine on it。 This is where Tokugawa Ieyasu was first enshrined, before being moved to Nikko.

[35] Eastern Shizuoka Pref.

[36] Eastern Aichi Pref.

[37] Present-day Tokyo

[38] Thus Ujihiro’s offspring would have access to the Shogun and high ranking officials, as he and his relatives would have played a large role in her upbringing.

[39] Like the Matsudaira/Tokugawa, they had originally been retainers of the Imagawa clan.  They ruled in Omi, present-day Shiga Pref, and their castle was in Hikone.  They maintained close ties with the Shogun.  Their line of Shinshin-ryu eventually became Shinshin Shin-ryu (新心新流).

[40] Tokyo and parts of the surrounding prefectures.

[41] 1573-1592

[42] There are a couple people listed in genealogies with the name Sekiguchi Geki, and it is not clear which one, and from which line, was connected to Shinshin-ryu.

[43] This was a 5 volume history of the Imagawa family whose production was overseen by Imagawa Yoshimoto.

[44] 1211-1290

[45] 1243-1282

[46] It was not uncommon for children to have different last names from their fathers.

[47] In Yamanashi Pref, Otsuki-shi.

[48] 1519-1560

[49] A samurai in the direct service of the Tokugawa shogunate.

[50] His name did not appear on the Imagawa Gunki, a list of participants at the battle.

[51] Kyoto.  It was the capital from 794-1868.

[52] His daughter married Tokugawa Ieyasu and when Ieyasu broke his alliance with the Imagawa family following Yoshimoto’s death, Imagawa Ujizane (Yoshimoto’s son, 1538-1617) ordered Ujihiro to commit suicide, as he was Ieyasu's father-in-law, and thus should take some responsibility for his actions.

[53] The BRHDJ states that Ujinari is Ujimune’s nephew, thus placing him in that family line.

[54] The headmaster

[55] An elite soldier with the duty of protecting VIPs, not just the Emperor and nobility.

[56] 1603-1867

[57] The full transmission of all of the teachings of the ryu.

[58] As he would be in his late teens.

[59] In Mikawa province, presently the eastern part of Aichi Pref. The castle was under siege by Takeda Katsuyori, with Okudaira Sadamasa, a Tokugawa vassal, commanding the defending force. The castle was under attack because it threatened Takeda's supply lines.

[60] The BRHDJ says that Ujinari is Ujimune’s nephew, thus making him Ujiyuki’s grandson.

[61] Which is one of the family lines that make up the Matsudaira family.

[62] 1336-1573

[63] Making her Ieyasu’s aunt.

[64] 1511-1535

[65] The Tokugawa and Ogyu-Matsudaira families.

[66] Each domain usually had a school, or schools, of martial arts that all of their retainers had to study.  For example, in Higo (Kumamoto) all the retainers had to study at least 2 of the following schools: Sekiguchi-ryu Battojutsu, Hoki-ryu Iaijutsu, and Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryu.

[67] A line of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu that was formed in the Nishio domain.

[68] A school of Jujutsu.

[69] This essay was written by Inagaki Yunosuke, the 9th headmaster of Shinshin-ryu, and Suzuki Sukejiro’s grandson.  He was also a scholar of Japanese Classics.

[70] The Yagyu Shinkage-ryu was one of two omote (official) schools of swordsmanship that members of the Shogunate studied.  Itto-ryu was the other.

[71] Approximately 1568-1603

[72] The families based in Bishu, Kishu, and Mito (Ibaraki Pref.).

[73] The lord of a domain.

[74] 1624-1643

[75] Because Shinshin-ryu served the Shogunate, once it fell practitioners of the ryu had to go into hiding, so the school was thought to have disappeared.

[76] Kumamoto Prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu.  This is where the Higo branch of the school was propagated, being taught to retainers along with Miyamoto Musashi’s Niten Ichi-ryu.

[77] Present-day Mugi High School (岐阜県立武義高等学校), it started as a private school for studying Chinese Classics, and that is more likely where Suzuki Sukejiro worked.  It became a junior high school in 1920.