Iaido in Hawaii

Jinichi Tokeshi, M.D., President of the Iai-Bu

Hawaii Kendo Federation


            The history of Iaido in Hawaii goes far back in terms of individual persons who privately practiced Iaido. According to Dr. Noboru Akagi's account, the earliest records of Iaido's existence here in Hawaii are newspaper articles on Iaido demonstrations at the dedication of the Kotohira Shrine in 1952 and the Cherry Blossom Festival in May 1954. On these occasions, Mikami Shuji snesei and Yasumitsu Hirokazu sensei demonstrated their respective schools of Iaido. The history of Iaido in Hawaii, as witnessed by members of the HKF, began with Sato Torajiro sensei who had 7th Dan in both kendo and Iaido. Dr. Akagi witnessed these lessons and practiced Iaido with him.

            Dr. Akagi initially gave Iaido lessens at Aiea Dojo and continued to teach at Kaimuki Honbu dojo. He was the first sensei to literally guide my hands and feet during the lessons. I consider this a very precious gift that he bestowed upon me.

            Other sensei who practiced Iaido was the late Furuyama Choichi sensei who was known to be a student of Ryugo Ryu School of Kenjutsu. His father was Furuyama Hanemon, a former samurai sent to Hawaii by the prefectural government of Miyagi to teach kendo in Hawaii.

            Dr. Akagi was instrumental in organizing and teaching Iaido in Hawaii. He studied his Iaido under Yamashibu sensei, a pair of brothers who were both Hanshi Hachidan. There was a move to have Iaido under HKF since 1986 but did not materialize for a long time.  He finally succeeded in placing Iaido-bu under the umbrella of HKF and it became official in 2000 under the helm of then HKF president Arnold Fukutomi sensei. He continued to give lessens until few years ago weekly at Kaimuki Honbu Dojo.

            We had several outstanding Iaido sensei visited us including Dr. Ichiro One, Hanshi 8th Dan; Kazuo Kato Sensei, 7th Dan; Fujita sensei, Hanshi 8th Dan; and Mizoguchi sensei, 8th Dan; along with their high ranking instructors.

Lieutenant Colonel Hideho Tohda sensei from the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force visited us a few times to observe and correct our forms during Iaido practices. Shintaro Onuma sensei, 7th Dan, is also one of our frequent visitors from Japan.

            In April of 1998, Fujita sensei's group visited us and gave us several day seminars. This seminar culminated with the Shodan Shinsa, after which our group included newly ranked 3rd Dan, 2nd Dan and Shodan students.      

            Maehara Shigeo sensei from Hiroshima visited us on the 50th anniversary of the HKF in August, 2005 and graciously agreed to give our iaido-bu members seminars followed by Shodan Shinsa. At this occasion we had three 4th dan, several sandan, nidan, and shodan promotions.

            Ikenaga Isao sensei 7th Dan from Kobe has made regular biannual visits to Hawaii for the past several years. He stays over a month each time he visits and teaches us twice a week. He brings news and new interpretations of Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Iai from Japanese Koshukai (seminar).

            At present we have two Iaido practices a week under HKF; Wednesdays on Aiea Taiheiji and Sundays at Kaimuki Honbu Dojo. Any HKF members are eligible and welcomed to join the practices.

            The students from different dojo will perform enbu today. This is Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Iaido, twelve basic waza combinations.