Last weekend, I took part in my first Mugairyu Performance at Shinjuku’s Akasaka Jinja Shrine!!
Before going any farther, a short explanation: Iai Mugairyu………what is it??? Mugairyu is a style of swordsmanship that started about 300 years ago with Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi. It is characterized by no more movement than necessary (“Mugairyu” literally translates to “no outward movement”), the sharpness of the mind and the way of drawing the sword. Also, when you think of kendo and many other sword styles, you hear people yelling A LOT. However we do not in Mugairyu.
One of the most famous people to use the Mugairyu style is Saito Hajime, the leader of the Shinsengumi’s Third Squad.
The performance started with Takeda Kaichou (lit. Takeda Chief) cutting a rolled up tatami mat (heres a video of him! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDdFWYh8-ss ). Afterwards, the rest of us took turns going in groups demonstrating certain patterns and skills that we had been practicing the past few months.
I was part of the group demonstrating the first fundamental that you learn when starting!
After our part of the performance ended, another group that practices the Tennenrishin-ryu style of swordsmanship gave an impressive demonstration. Tennenrishin-ryu differs from Mugairyu in that it is more suited for warfare. It is most famous as being the style that the leaders of the Shinsengumi, Kondo Isami, Hijikata Toshizo and the captain of the first squad, Okita Souji practiced and taught. I didn’t know it until the end, but the captain of the Tennenrishin-ryu club, Miyakawa Sensei. is related to Kondo Isami! One of my friends, who knows I love history was kind (?) enough to (literally) drag me over and introduce me to him!! He gave me a short talk on history, and then before taking the picture, instructed me on how to correctly place my hands for photographs!
Next Mugairyu event – the International Tournament!!! Ganbarimasuyo!