Iaido Journal June 2007
The Mind and Philosophy of Matsuo Haruna
copyright © 2007 Jermaine Carty, all rights reserved
As a martial artist (a young one at least) and a
believer and practitioner of Budo, I believe that it is very important
to study the history and origins of one’s chosen art, and those of
other arts as well. To me, knowing as much as one can of the who,
where, why and how of the very beginnings of a martial art is crucial
to fully understanding it, which I believe gives one’s practice a much
deeper and fuller meaning. Studying the history of martial arts allows
one to take the old and apply it to the new; to comprehend the older -
sometimes ancient - roots of our study gives us the ability to find the
reason for our training today. Society, times and weapons may change,
but the principles of the old remain the same, as the roots of a tree,
affecting and influencing humanity from beneath the surface.
I believe studying this history is also a way of
paying homage and respect to those who were the pioneers of these arts.
All ways and styles of combat started with these individuals putting
their entire creative energies and lives into developing a physical,
mental, and spiritual way of defending oneself. While no true martial
artist or sensei would accept such worship, it is to these men and
women that we owe our practice.
With that being said, I have decided to devote this
article to another individual, who, from my understanding, served as an
inspiration and source of guidance to many Iaidoka. What I found out
about this man is what I believe to be worth sharing. His achievements
and attitude toward keiko are something that we can all learn from.
That man is Matsuo Haruna Sensei.
One of the most amazing things I learned about
Haruna sensei was that he did not start training until very late in his
life. He was born in 1925, but didn’t start training in iaido until
1972 – at 46 years of age. This is an age at which most people think
they are too old to start anything, let alone training in a martial
art! Haruna sensei did, however, and made astounding achievements in
the short time between 1972 and his death in 2002. He was given the
rank of Hachidan, and title of Hanshi, in Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu.
He was the head teacher and director of the Musashi
Dojo of Ohara, named after the legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi.
He participated in over 250 provincial and national competitions and
demonstrations in Japan; he lost 12 times, placed 3rd eight times and
placed 2nd 28 times, among these which was his first national
competition in 1978, in which he came second. He was awarded Best
Fighting Spirit 45 times, and Special Fighting Spirit (higher that
Best) 15 times. The rest he won.
Despite his impressive competitive record, Haruna
sensei didn’t train for shiai at all. For him, shiai was simply another
day of training. He believed whether it is shiai – demonstration,
competition, testing – or keiko (practice), your attitude should be
exactly the same – and that attitude is that you should train as if
your life depended on it!! Haruna sensei believed the key to developing
in your training is by taking it seriously. Without this attitude, your
practice suffers, along with your skill. It is concentration, along
with deep focus on the basics that allows one to advance.
While I never had the opportunity to study or train with Haruna sensei,
I am thankful for his life, his influence on and contribution to iaido
and iaidoka. It has strengthened my own insights on martial arts as I’m
sure it has others.
Haruna Matsuo Sensei, shitsurei shimasu!!!
Jermaine Carty is a recipient of the
Haruna Bursary to the Guelph
Spring Iaido Seminar.
He is a student of Martin Ricketts in Toronto.