The history of Araki Mujinsai-ryu Iaido is apart from that of other lines of Araki-ryu. Within the Bugei Ryuha Dai Jiten’s section on Araki-ryu, there is a lineage in Kyushu, allegedly from Araki Mujinsai through Araki Shingorou Muraharu. The eighth headmaster, Araki Jyosuisai Murayasu, was succeeded by two students. One of the ninth generation is Araki Choubei Muraharu, whom Kurosu Haruji (8th dan Kodokan, and 12th generation shihan of Araki Shin-ryu) wrote was an attendant to the Satsuma clan. In the BRDJ, his line ends there and it is listed as Satsuma-han Araki-ryu, but it is not clear if previous generations were also associated with the han. Murayasu’s senior disciple, Hisano Saburosuke, was, Kurosu writes, an assistant shihan to the Owari clan.
- Araki Muninsai Minamoto no Hidetsuna (荒木夢仁斎 源秀縄)
- Araki Shingorou Muraharu (荒木新五郎村治)
- Kitagawa Ryosaku Chikatada (北河原与作親忠)
- Araki Samanosuke Muratsune (荒木左馬助村常)
- Araki Hiryusai Muraki (荒木大竜斎村輝)
- Araki Zuikousai Muranori (荒木随応斎村記)
- Araki Jyujirou Muratatsu (荒木十二郎村高)
- Araki Jyosuisai Murayasu (荒木始水斎村保)
- Hisano Saburosuke Koson (久野三郎助俊邨)- Araki Choubei Muraharu (荒木長兵衛村春)
Based on what we know about Araki Mujinsai, however, there are some problems with the assertion that this was also a lineage of Araki-ryu as well as one of clan history. Araki-ryu, in its primordial form, was created by Fujiwara Katsuzane (probably Shinmen Munisai Taketo, Miyamoto Musashi’s father), through his contact with Takenouchi Hisamori in 1573. At this time, the Araki clan was in a state of almost perpetual war, and Shingorou, quite a young man, was lord of his own castle. It was only five years later, in 1578, that Murashige came into open conflict with Nobunaga. We are asked to believe that Araki Mujinsai, possibly a member of the clan, learned from Fujiwara Katsuzane, managed to teach Shingoro, and furthermore, Mujinsai and/or Shingorou also managed to teach Kitagawa Ryosaku, all in a space of seven years. Then, at least a decade later, Kitagawa allegedly passed it on to Araki Muratsune, who was two years old when Shingoro's castle fell and Kitagawa escaped with the babe in his arms. All the while, Mujinsai still lived, participating in the war against Korea in the 1590’s. The time frame seems impossible.
How does this account of a long-extinct Araki-ryu of the Satsuma domain relate to Araki Mujinsai-ryu Iaido? Araki Mujinsai-ryu Iaido was well-known in the Kansai area in the 1970’s when I lived in Japan. The 15th generation headmaster at that time was Hayabuchi Risho. They claimed the lineage above, starting with Araki Mujinsai and Araki Shingorou. In their own publicly released lineage, however, there was a gap between the 9th generation and Hayabuchi's teacher, the Meiji era's, Sanukiya Kisaburou, these generations merely marked by empty boxes. It is customary in Japan to have such gaps in a lineage when the person following the gaps has claimed to have revived or resurrected a lost tradition, or when historical records are otherwise not available.
Hayabuchi was known as kenbu practitioner, this being a form of very stylized sword dance accompanied by chanted poetry. In the Japanese website of the Meirinkai, the headquarters of one line of Araki Mujinsai-ryu Iaido, it states that Kenbu in its present form was established at the “Gekkiken Kogyo,” of Sakakibara Kenkichi during the Meiji period. (The Gekkiken Kogyo were public exhibition/competitions of old ryu, becoming increasingly florid and commercial until outlawed by the government). The website goes on to say that their Kenbu, called Kenshibudo, comes from the Kinbusa-ryu, established in 1877 by Kanichiro Kinbusa, and then later, continued by Hayabuchi.
Araki Mujinsai-ryu is a form of iaido, with perhaps some influence from kembu. In recent years, they seem to have “filled in” the gaps in their lineage, as they publicly announce it, adding a tenth through thirteenth headmaster before Sanukiya - although this may merely be the result of new historical information surfacing which allowed them to complete the record.
10. Araki Muyoue Muramitsu
11. Anraku Hakuunsai Kunimune
12. Kawamata Isouji Muneharu
13. Abe Mutousai Masamitsu
14. Sanukiya Kisaburou
15. Hayabuchi Risho (Kobe, died in 1999)
16. Hayabuchi Hajime, Toyoda Rinpu, Nakamichi Joshin,
One of their shihan wrote on the Meirinkai website that the original Araki-ryu was a general combat art, and that the “kenpo students” (Isezaki Araki-ryu) have kept to this original style. In Araki Mujinsai-ryu Iaido, on the other hand, “samurai had changed from soldiers to office workers. Some students changed Araki-ryu style, which adapted to a peaceful Japan and concentrated on purifying sword technique. That was Araki Mujinsai-ryu iaido, which we are now learning.”
This school has, without doubt, been extant in its current form from the Meiji period, with roots that may extend back far earlier. It is an exemplary school of iaido. The curriculum is unique to this branch, not sharing names or technique with any of the other lines of Araki-ryu. Other than its name and founder, Araki Muninsai, it is otherwise unrelated to all lines of Araki-ryu that descended through Mori Kasumi Katsushige.
Publicly Released Curriculum
- Suwari Waza - 30 kata
- Tachi Waza - 26 kata
- Kumitachi - 13 kata?
- Choto Battoho
- Kurai Gamae