New York Budo Association’s curriculum has been primarily focused upon a specific style of iaido – Ryushin Shouchi Ryu since 2006 under the guidance of Soke Kunikazu Yahagi.
The curriculum includes kata, kumitachi (as well as bogu practice) and tameshigiri.
Philosophy written by Kawabata Sensei and Yahagi Sensei. History/Linage source is Wikipedia.
Ryushin Shouchi Ryu is a school of kobudo (ancient martial art) specializing in iaijutsu (the art of drawing and cutting). The philosophy of the Ryushin Shouchi Ryu parallels that of most modern forms of budo, (i.e. kendo, judo, and aikido) and entails cultivating the mind and conditioning the body through rigorous training for the purpose of improving the self rather than killing an enemy. This concept is more commonly known as fudoshin (不動心 – immovable mind), which refers to a state of psychological and spiritual equanimity. The name Ryushin Shouchi Ryu, selected by the founder Kawabata Terutaka. means “cultivate firm and yet flexible spirit and body of the Willow tree,” which does not lose its leaves even in winter, and contribute to the world through a calm mind and unfettered wisdom” (Shouchi can be translated as “shining wisdom”). Ryushin Shouchi Ryu is based on a traditional swordsmanship that originated in the Kanto area, but then spread to Kyushu and other areas of Japan. It is composed of Iai (60 数本), Bokuto kumitachi, Iai kumitachi, Tachitori, and Tantotori. The forms transmitted by this style distill the wisdom, discipline and determination of a great many masters and accomplished men over hundreds of years, and it has been both extremely challenging and vitally important to transmit these forms correctly generation after generation.
Tenshisho Jigen Ryu (天眞正自源流) was founded by Tose Yosazaemon Osamune (十瀬 与三左衛門 長宗, c. 1540 – c. 1600) around the Eiroku Era (1558 – 1570). Tose was a land-holding samurai from Hitachi province in Japan.3 In his twenties, he traveled to Katori Shrine where he came under the instruction of Iizasa Wakasa no Kami Morinobu, the third headmaster of the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu. After five years of training he received a menkyo kaiden (license of mastery). After completing his training in Katori he moved on to continue his studies at Kashima Shrine where he underwent a spiritual ordeal and received, via an oracle, a catalog of martial techniques in a divine inspiration from Takemikazuchi.3 In addition, he received a vision of technique so swift that with it he could cut a flying swallow out of the air. From this inspiration he named his new system Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu, taking the “Tenshinsho” (true and correct transmission from the of deity of Katori Shrine- Futsunushi) from the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, and adding the term “self-power revelation” (Jigen) which had come to him after his spiritual ordeal at Kashima Shrine.1 Tose’s student, Kaneko Shinkuro Morisada (金子 新九郎 盛貞, c. 1520 – c. 1585), would eventually carry on the tradition by becoming the second headmaster.3
The third headmaster of the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu was Terasaka Yakuro Masatsune (寺坂 弥九郎 政雅, 1567 – 1594), also known by his Buddhist dharma name, Zenkitsu (善吉, also read Zenkichi). He was the chief Buddhist priest of the Tennji Temple near Kyoto.3 Although his life was short lived he did manage to pass on the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu to Togo Shigekata (東郷 重位, 1560 – 1643), a samurai from the Satsuma domain, who after 3 years of having returned to Satsuma synthesized the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu with the Taisha Ryu to create the Jigen Ryu.4 According to tradition, the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu would remain a well-kept secret through the Jigen Ryu and Yakumaru Jigen Ryu lines, and passed down through a series of dai (a line of headmasters not related by blood) for nearly 400 years.2
In 1963, the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu would see a rival under the 27th headmaster, Ueno Yasuyuki Genshin (上野 靖之 源心, 1913 – 1972), when he began instructing at the Shobukan in Asakusa, Tokyo until his death in 1972.2 Ueno would pass on the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu to his two sons, Ueno Kagenori Genki (上野 景範 源己) and Ueno Takashi Doushin (上野 貴史 童心). They later succeeded Ueno in becoming the 28th and 29th headmasters. Ueno would also instruct Kawabata Terutaka (河端 照孝, b. 1940) who went on to create the Ryushin Shouchi Ryu.5
In 2011, to clarify the purpose of the school and dojo in cultivating the mind and conditioning the body through rigorous training, the original name of the school, Ryushin Jigen Ryu, was changed to Ryushin Shouchi Ryu. Fortunately, in the forms of this style transmitted by President Kawabata, their ancient content has been preserved, closely resembling the fighting techniques of the samurai – from the Period of Warring States through the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate.