Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū (飛天御剣流, Flying Heaven Govern Sword-Style) is an ancient kenjutsu style from the Sengoku Jidai, developed to allow a single samurai to defeat numerous foes single-handedly. Practitioners of this style use a combination of near-superhuman speed and agility (known as Shinsoku, or godspeed), battōjutsu, an acquired, observation-based pseudo-clairvoyance in order to avoid the attacks of their opponents by the least possible margin and with the least possible effort in order to place themselves in the perfect position to strike in the very instant the opponent's strike misses, and stresses two-step attacks in order to ensure that any and all who oppose it are thoroughly slain.
Due to its tremendous power and speed, Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū has recently been nicknamed "The Black Ship of the Land" in that it would secure absolute victory for whichever side wielded it in a conflict. In light of this truth, Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū has strictly maintained independence of alliances or sides, stressing highly of the importance of wielding its expertise in the name of their fellow man and of any hardship, absent of allegiances and bias of any sort.
Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū is known by very few people in history due to the fact that it has only passed on from master to apprentice for fourteen generations, with each apprentice taking the life and special mantle of his master as well as the name Hiko Seijūrō. Additionally, the immense force and energy required to perform many of the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū's moves take a cumulative toll on the body of the user. With sufficient physical strength training and limited combat, the effects can be staunched, but will inevitably render the user incapable of wielding the style's tremendous power.
- Ryūtsuisen (龍槌閃, Dragon Hammer Flash) - From a position higher than one's opponent (usually initiated by a powerful jump), one uses the momentum of the fall to strengthen a two-handed sword swing that brings the blade down on the opponent's head or shoulder.
- Ryūtsuisen ● Zan (龍槌閃・惨, Dragon Hammer Flash: Disaster) - Beginning in the same way as Ryūtsuisen, the user positions the sword as to initiate a downward stab to the head instead of a downward swing. Kenshin is first shown using this against Shigekura Jūbei.
- Ryūkansen (龍巻閃, Dragon Coiling Flash) - Most often used as a counterattack against a thrust or charge, one sidesteps a forward-moving opponent and moves past them. In doing so, one spins in a full circle, adding momentum and centrifugal force to the strength of the sword swing, which is then aimed at either the opponent's back or the back of the neck.
- Ryūkansen ● Tsumuji (龍巻閃・旋, Dragon Coiling Flash: Whirl) - One of the variations of Ryūkansen, Ryūkansen Tsumuji is a direct attack rather than a counter, and involves a more forward direction of spinning, such as in a drilling motion like a torpedo.
- Ryūkansen ● Kogarashi (龍巻閃・凩, Dragon Coiling Flash: Wintry Wind) - An alternate version used in Kenshin's Five Hit Combo against Shishio. Involves a simple backhanded slash from a single turn to blast the foe away; unlike the original version it is not a full circling spin, and is meant to be a quick and possibly situational strike.
- Ryūkansen ● Arashi (龍巻閃・嵐, Dragon Coiling Flash: Storm) - A variation of the normal Ryūkansen, this technique places the swordsman is in a full rolling somersault slash while attacking.
- Ryūshōsen (龍翔閃, Dragon Flight Flash) - The opposite of Ryūtsuisen, Ryūshōsen is a rising attack meant to strike the jaw from below. For additional power, one uses one's free arm to apply force to the back of the blade and utilizes a powerful upward jump during the attack. (Originally this move was designed to slice into the opponent's chin and kill them, but Kenshin has since modified the technique to strike with the sword's side; consequently, Senkaku, Shishio and Aoshi have all survived the attack, though the former was instantly knocked out by it.)
- Ryūtsuishōsen (龍槌翔閃, Dragon Hammer-Flight Flash) - A combination of Ryūtsuisen and Ryūshōsen, Ryūtsuishōsen begins with the powerful jump and supported upswing of Ryūshōsen, giving the leap enough power to pass one's opponent in mid-air, and on the returning drop, Ryūtsuisen is performed. it is unknown if this move can be performed effectively without using a sakabatō, as the initial Ryūtsuisen would already be fatal if landed correctly with a normal katana. It can also work the other way around at times, where the Ryūshōsen performed first instead.
- Ryūsōsen (龍巣閃, Dragon Nest Flash) - A massive flurry of strikes delivered to the opponent. The sheer speed of the slashes makes this technique difficult to counter. There is an alternate version called
- Ryūsōsen ● Garami (龍巣閃・咬, Dragon Nest Flash: Gnawing) - A technique that which targets the foe's head.
- Doryūsen (土龍閃, Earth Dragon Flash) - A ranged attack, Doryūsen strikes an opponent outside of the user's range by striking the ground and sending earthen debris at said opponent with knockout force.
- Kuzuryūsen (九頭龍閃, Nine-Headed Dragon Flash) - A dashing attack that uses Shinsoku (Godspeed) to simultaneously strike all nine vital spots on the foe's body from a normal kendō stance, as each of these nine points are the main targets for different swordstyles (only different styles target different ones). It is said to be undodgeable and nearly unblockable, and is taught as a prerequisite for the succession technique. It is also Hiko Seijūrō XIII's signature move. Users who are faster than the Hiten Mitsurugi, however, are able to evade the attack, as seen with Sōjirō. The strength of the move's "nine heads" will differ greatly depending on the strength of the user. Kenshin's Kuzuryūsen is powerful, but is countered at one point by Yukishiro Enishi, while Hiko's Kuzuryūsen allows him to instantly down the immense Fuji with no prior attacks.
- The nine heads of the targets are in counterclockwise while looking towards the target from the user's view:
- Karatake (唐竹/幹竹, Tang Bamboo/Tree Trunk Bamboo) Aimed at above head with downward strike: 壱 (ichi, one)
- Sakagesagiri (逆袈裟切り, Inverted Kasaya Cutter) Aimed at right shoulder diagonally: 弐 (ni, two)
- Miginagi (右薙, Right Mower) Aimed at right arm's center from the side: 参 (san, three)
- Migikiriage (右切上, Right Cutting Upward) Aimed at right arm's bottom/right wrist diagonally: 肆 (shi, four)
- Sakakaze (逆風, Inverted Wind) Aimed at groin area from below via upward stroke, or straight from front: 伍 (go, five)
- Hidarikiriage (左切上, Left Cutting Upward) Aimed at left arm's bottom/left wrist diagonally: 陸 (riku, six)
- Hidarinagi (左薙, Left Mower) Aimed at left arm's center from the side: 漆 (shitsu, seven)
- Kesagiri (袈裟切り, Kasaya Cutter) Aimed at left shoulder diagonally: 捌 (hatsu, eight)
- Tsuki/Shitotsu (刺突, Thrusting/Thorn Stab) Aimed at center of chest, at breastbone: 玖 (kyuu, nine)
- The nine heads of the targets are in counterclockwise while looking towards the target from the user's view:
- Hiten Mugen Zan (飛天無限斬, Flying Heaven Infinity Slash) - An ancient and seemingly lost move used by the original Hiko Seijūrō, Hiten Mugen Zan is a shinsoku charge followed by a slash of unrivaled power.
- Sōryūsen (双龍閃, Twin Dragon Flash) - Seemingly a simple Battōjutsu strike, Sōryūsen is the first of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū's two-step Battōjutsu moves. After the first strike with the quickened sword, the user wields the empty sheath along the same path as a blunt weapon. After the sword strike lands, the sheath strike delivers a pulverizing blow capable of crushing bone and shattering wood, but if the sword strike misses, the sheath strike acts as powerful insurance, preventing an opponent's attack and delivering a crushing blow when it's least expected. This move is first seen being used by Kenshin against Udō Jin-e.
- Sōryūsen ● Ikazuchi (双龍閃・雷, Twin Dragon Flash: Thunder) - An alternate form of Sōryūsen wherein the sword is wielded while still inside the sheath. The first strike is made with the sheathed sword and, once it makes contact, the sword is drawn using Battōjutsu for a second strike. While the original Sōryūsen is designed to make two strikes, Sōryūsen Ikazuchi appears designed with the assumption that the first strike will be blocked. This move is first seen being used by Hiko Seijūrō XIII against Himura Kenshin.
- Hiryūsen (飛龍閃, Flying Dragon Flash) - After assuming a Battōjutsu stance, one rotates one's body rapidly and then stops, aiming the sheath at one's target. The force shoots the sword's grip out of the sheath like an arrow, allowing one to strike a target outside of one's zone. As a Battōjutsu move, it can be assumed that the sheath can then be used as a melee weapon in a second strike, but this is not seen. Hiryūsen is first seen being used by Kenshin against Isurugi Raijūta. It can be assumed that proper control for this technique is required, for applying too much may make the sword fly out of its sheath too far should it miss.
- Ryūmeisen (龍鳴閃, Dragon Howl Flash) - An unusual technique in which one uses the godspeed of Battōjutsu to sheathe the sword rather than to draw it in a practice known as Shinsoku Nōtōjutsu (Godspeed Reaping Sword Technique). The speed and force creates a miniature sonic boom that can be used to temporarily stun opponents with particularly sensitive or acute hearing by affecting their auditory nerves. This move is only seen once, used by Kenshin against Yukishiro Enishi. While this attack would normally only deafen the target for a while, due to Enishi's unusually sensitive nervous system, Ryūmeisen managed to affect his equilibrium as well.
- Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki (天翔龍閃, Flash of the Heavenly Flying Dragon) - The secret ultimate technique of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki is a powerful Battōjutsu technique whose secret lies in discovering both the significance and insignificance of one's life, the penultimate requirement needed to master the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū.
This endangers the user by possibly putting the adjacent leg into the free sword's path and draws one even closer to an opponent's sword than usual, but on the other hand, boosts both the power and the speed of the Battōjutsu swing. By realizing one's insignificance and risking life and limb to protect something else while, at the same time, taking one's own, fragile human life into consideration, the user is able to step into the small margin behind one's own drawn sword and in front of the sword of one's opponent without fail, delivering a beyond-godspeed blow of monstrous power.
Additionally, like other Battōjutsu moves of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki is a two-step move and, if its secret should be anticipated and the strike itself blocked or dodged, the second step comes immediately into effect. The immense force of the enhanced draw cuts the air in front of it and creates a powerful vacuum in its wake as the deflected air rushes back into place. Any opponent to deflect or dodge the first swing will automatically be subject to this vacuum and inexorably pulled closer to the user, all the while this vacuum creates intense winds powerful enough to overwhelm and catch their opponents off balance. With the great amount of force being applied to the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki, a missed swing leads naturally into an accelerated spin of such centripetal force akin to the Ryūkansen. The added momentum of the spin in addition to the pulling force of the vacuum on both side results in a second strike that greatly dwarfs the first in power. This is best explained to Kaoru By Sejiro Hiko XIII "Even if you avoid the fangs of the flying dragon the gusting winds strip away freedom of movement and the claws would rip you apart"
Although the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki is one of the most powerful and profound attacks of the series, to learn such a technique is not without cost and consequence. Those who learn the ways of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, and walks its path long enough to learn this technique, must undergo a final test, to be pitted against their master's unrestrained Kuzuryūsen, placing them in a true life or death situation. Faced with life or death, the student must perform the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki without flaw, being the only attack in the repetiore of Hiten Mitsurugi that surpasses the Kuzuryūsen in speed and execution- else the apprentice fails and is ultimately slain for naught. Should they succeed, they will have mastered both this technique, and how it is testament, the entire style of Hiten Mitsurugi itself, but at the cost of the preceding master's life.
The Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki is first seen being used by Kenshin against Hiko Seijūrō XIII, and his master is the only known master in the school's history to have survived the final trial. Its second strike is first seen being used by Kenshin against Shishio Makoto. Yukishiro Enishi is the only other opponent whom Kenshin used the second strike against.
- Karyūsen (渦龍閃, Vortex Dragon Flash) - A gust of wind caused by Kenshin's sakabatō, he uses this to stun or impede opponents at a distance. Wrapping his wounded arm and sheath to the belt and taking the stance for the Amakakeru Ryū No Hirameki, Kenshin leaps high into the air, and begins a free-fall. Knowing there is no stability while airborne, Kenshin utilizes the free-fall to multiply the torque of his rotating body to accelerate the draw of his sword for the decisive strike. This technique is more accurately akin to Ryūkansen, in that it uses the body’s centripetal force to counter any adversary’s assault with a lightning-swift counterattack. Sagara Sanosuke was the one to coin the name "Kenshin-Ryū: Kaiten Battōjutsu" (Kenshin-Style: Rotating Battōjutsu).
- Rairyūsen (雷龍閃, Thunder/Lightning Dragon Flash) - A technique invented by Amakusa Shōgo, who mastered the Hiten style to a perfection ever since the first Hiko Seijūrō. The technique involves using one's chi and swordsman's spirit, forming a light from the sword in a style of a violent thunderstorm, attacking opponents by overwhelmingly striking their sight with such sensory overload to the point that it knocks them out. Should it be used to its full intensity, the Rairyūsen rids them of their eyesight forever leaving them with gray-empty eyes; unless the one blinded can overcome the Rairyūsen's user in a Amakakeru Ryū No Hirameki clash in a test of true spirit, it is only then their eyesight will return. Kenshin was first hit by this, but quickly adjusted to being blind, and eventually overcame Shōgo in their eventual clash.
- Hiko Seijūrō I
- Hiko Seijūrō II
- Hiko Seijūrō III
- Hiko Seijūrō IV
- Hiko Seijūrō V
- Hiko Seijūrō VI
- Hiko Seijūrō VII
- Hiko Seijūrō VIII
- Hiko Seijūrō IX
- Hiko Seijūrō X
- Hiko Seijūrō XI
- Hiko Seijūrō XII
- Hiko Seijūrō XIII
- Himura Kenshin
- Amakusa Shōgo (anime only)
- Hyōei Nishida (anime only)
- Since Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū's two remaining practitioners, Himura Kenshin (age 28) and Hiko Seijūrō XIII (age 43) look considerably younger than they are, it has been theorized by Misao and Yahiko that Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū grants eternal youth.
- Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū is loosely based on the real-life Shiranui-ryū, the secrets of which died with its sole known practitioner, Kawakami Gensai.
- Although Hiko Seijūrō refers to Shishio Makoto as a master of "Hiten" in the Viz manga, there is nothing to suggest that Shishio has ever studied Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū.