History of Mugai-ryū Iai
The founder of Mugai-ryū, Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi 辻月丹資茂, was born in the second year of Keian (in 1649, the beginning of the Edo period) in the Miya village section of Masugi, located in the Kōka-gun district of Ōmi, in what is now Kōka city in Shiga Prefecture. He was the son of Tsuji Yadayū a descendant of Sasaki Takadzuna. When he was 13 he went to Kyōto to study Yamaguchi-ryū swordsmanship under Yamaguchi Bokushinsai sensei. At the age of 26 he received kaiden (full transmission) and opened a school in the village of Kōjimachi in Edo, in what is now present day Tōkyō. In order to cultivate, train and improve his spirit, mind and body, he went to study Zen and Classical Chinese literature under Zen master Sekitan at Kyūkō temple in Azabu for six years. Zen master Sekitan passed away on June 23rd during the 8th Year of Enpō, when Heinai (Tsuji Gettan’s childhood name) was 32 years old. Heinai continued practicing Zen Meditation under Shinshu Oshō. At the age of 45 he reached enlightenment. Shinshu Oshō presented Heinai a formal poem from the Buddhist scriptures, on behalf of his former teacher Zen master Sekitan, as acknowledgment and proof of his accomplishment. Heinai then changed his name to Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi and used the characters 無外 from a verse of this poem to name his school of swordsmanship:
一方実無外 Ippō jitsu ni hoka ni nashi
乾坤得一貞 Kenkon ni ittei wo u
吹毛方納密 Suimō masani mitsu ni osamu
動着則光精 Dōchaku sureba sunawachi hikari kiyoshi
The following is Elder Ömori Sōgen's interpretation of this poem. Born in 1904 in Yamanashi prefecture, he not only became a great swordsman but also became president of Hanazono University and a teacher at Kōho temple.
There is but one absolute Truth, one path to absolute truth in one's heart. Nothing else exists. All things are formed of this one truth.
Absolute Truth is at the origin of heaven and earth, the sun and the moon (the universe) and its virtue transcends all things.
This absolute Truth is much like your heart, as sharp as a sword's blade that cuts clean a strand of hair floating on a light breeze.
Moreover, this absolute truth is a refreshing brightness that shines even more brilliantly during periods of great change, of confusion or chaos.
It is recorded that among his pupils were Ogasawara Sadonokami* Nagashige, a very powerful feudal lord, Sakai Kageyu* Tadataka, the feudal lord of Himeji castle, Yamanouchi Toyomasa, a powerful feudal lord of the Tosa area, as well as other overlords, daidaimyō. It is also recorded that there were 32 lords, daimyō, and lower level lords, shōmyō, with stipends above 10 000 koku; 150 jikisannoshi (the Shōgun's direct vassals) with stipends below 10 000 koku, and 932 baishinnoshi, the vassals of feudal lords.
*These names were given to these feudal lords by the emperor and were symbols of their very high status.
Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi was unmarried and it is assumed that he had no offspring as he took the eldest son of Head priest Sawatari Bungonokami of the Ökunitama Shrine (present day Tōkyō) as his successor. Head priest Sawatari Bungonokami's eldest son took the name **Tsuji Kimata Sukehide after Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi and thus became Nidai, Tsuji the II.
**Although the character that Tsuji 都治 Kimata Sukehide took as a new familly name are different than that used for Tsuji 辻 Gettan Sukemochi's family name, the pronunciation of 都治 and 辻 is identical.
Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi was known not just as a master of the sword, but as an enlightened philosopher and scholar, and the Mugai Shinden Kempō Ketsu 無外真伝剣法訣 is recognized as a superb and unique book in Japan's martial arts literature for its depth, flowing style and elegant composition.
Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi passed away on June 23rd in the 12th year of Kyōhō (1725) at the age of 79. His tomb can be found at Kyūkō temple, in Wakamatsuchō, in the Shibuya area of Tōkyō. The tombs of Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi's successors are kept at the Buddhist priest's cemetery for Nyorai temple, in Nishiōichō in the Shinagawa area of Tōkyō.