In ancient Japan the need to be able to defend oneself from a sudden attack led to the development of techniques to quickly draw the sword from its saya (scabbard). Thus Iai was born.
There are several different ryu (styles/schools) of Iaido. At Kenshin Dojo in Phoenix, Arizona we study Araki Ryu Iaido, founded by Araki Mujinsai Minamotono Hidetsuna over 400 years ago.
Araki Mujinsai had many disciples, four who formed their own schools: Araki Shingorou Muraharu followed his teachings in the path now known as Araki Mujinsai Ryu Iaido. This is the Iaido that we study at Kenshin Dojo. Other disciples include Mori Kasuminosuke Katsushige (Araki Ryu Kenpou – found in Isezaki, Gunma prefecture), Nakamura Daizou Yukiharu (Takenouchi Santon Ryu), Araki Buzaemon Hisakatsu (Araki Ryu Gunyoukogusoku – found in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture and includes the study of Iaido, yari, and nagamaki).
Who was Araki Mujinsai Minamotono Hidetsuna?
He is said to have been of the clan of Araki Setsunokami Minamotono Murashige a lord of Itami castle in Setsu, Hyogo, near present day Osaka and Kyoto. He joined the army of Hideyoshi and distinguished himself in a battle during the invasion of Korea in 1591, for which he was rewarded by Hideyoshi. Details of his birth and death are unknown. He learned Kogusoku (military fighting arts) from Fujiwarano Katsumi, but he also learned Takenouchi Ryu.
During the Sengoku era, around the Eiroku (1558-1569) or Tensho (1573-1591) periods, he lived in Araki Mura, Nanjo Gun, Fukui prefecture (town, county, & prefecture, respectively) just north of Kyoto. His style of combat was founded based on his combat experiences. It is said to be one of the three oldest budo.