Mugai ryu
Founder Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi
Date founded 23 June 1680
Period founded Mid-Edo period (1603–1868)
Arts taught
Art Description
Kenjutsu - Tachi, Wakizashi Sword art; with long sword, short sword.
Iaijutsu Sword art; cutting off of the draw.
Ancestor schools
Yamaguchi-ryūJikyo-ryū Mugai ryu curriculum. Shinkage-ryūAwaga-ryūKashima Shinto-ryū Yamaguchi-ryū influences.
Descendant schools

Mugai ryu (無外流 Mugai-ryū?) is a Japanese koryū martial art school founded by Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi (辻月丹資茂?) in 23 June 1680.


The founder of Mugai ryu, Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi 辻月丹資茂 was born to Tsuji Yadayū descendant of Sasaki Takadzuna, in the second year of Keihan (in 1649, the beginning of the Edo period), in the Miya-mura-aza village area 宮村字 of Masugi 馬杉, in the Kōka-gun district 甲賀郡 of Ōmi 近江; what is now Shiga Prefecture. When he was 13 he went to Kyoto to study Yamaguchi-ryū swordsmanship under Sensei Yamaguchi Bokushinsai, and at the age of 26 he received kaiden (full transmission) and opened a school in Koishikawa 小石川 in Edo; what is now Tokyo. In order to cultivate, train and improve his spirit, mind and body, he went to study Zen and Classical Chinese literature under Zen monk Sekitan Ryouzen 石潭良全 at Kyūkōji temple 吸江寺 in Azabu Sakurada-cho 麻布桜田町. At the age of 32 he reached enlightenment and received from his Zen teacher a formal poem taken from the Buddhist scriptures as an acknowledgment and proof of his accomplishment. Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi used the word Mugai from this poem to represent his school of swordsmanship.

It is recorded that among his pupils were Ogasawara Sado-no-kami* Nagashige, a very powerful feudal lord, Sakai Kangeyu* Tadataka, a feudal lord of a castle in Maebashi, Yama-no-uchi Toyomasa, a powerful feudal lord of the Tosa area, as well as 50 daishōmyō, high level samurai having a status slightly lower than that of a feudal lord level with stipends above 10 000 koku, 150 jikisan-no-shi, the Shōgun's direct vassals with stipends below 10 000 koku, and 932 baishin, the vassals of feudal lords. (* These names were given to these feudal lords by the emperor and are 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 Bungo-no-kami 神官 猿渡豊後守, of Ōkunitama 大国魂神社 Shrine in what is now known as the Tokyo provincial government area, as his successor. Shinkan Sawatari (Bungo-no-kami)'s eldest son took the name **Tsuji Kimata Sukehide 都治記摩多資英 after Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi and thus became Nidai, Tsuji the II. Kimata opened the dojo in Kojimachi 麹町 (** Although the kanji for 都治 is different from the original 辻 the pronunciation is the same and represents a succession.)

Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi was known not just as a master of the sword, but as an enlightened philosopher and scholar, and his writings Mugai Shinden Kempō Ketsu 無外真伝剣訣 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 died on June 23 in the 12th year of Kyō-hō 享保 (1725) at the age of 79. The tombs of Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi's successors are kept at the Buddhist priest's cemetery for Nyoraiji temple 如来寺, which is in the town of Nishiōi 西大井町 in the Shinagawa 品川区 area.

The school retains both iaijutsu and kenjutsu in its curriculum, and has a strong connection with Zen due to Gettan's belief that the "sword and Zen are the way of the same Truth".[1] The name "Mugai" comes from the following poem:



Ippou jitsu mugai
Kenkon toku ittei
Suimo hou nomitsu
Douchaku soku kousei

"There is nothing other than the One True Way
Heaven and Earth profit from this single Virtue
The fluttering feather knows this secret
To be settled during confusion is to be enlightened and pure"

Mugai-ryu today

Today Mugai-ryu has splintered into several lines and there is no one sōke.[2] Nakagawa Shiryo Shinichi is generally considered the last soke. He did not appoint a successor, but awarded several menkyo kaiden, and his students continue to teach the school and several new lines have been established. Each with their own soke. Nakagawa-sensei also founded an organization called the Mugai Kai to help preserve the school.


External links

  • latest research developments on Mugai ryu and Tsuji Gettan
  • Nippon Iaido Renmei Kishiwada Shibu homepage
  • Gyokufu-kai homepage
  • Nippon Iaido Renmei Chicago Shibu Homepage
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