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Iaido

Iai- is differentiated from the kenjutsu styles in that the sword is initially at rest in the saya (scabbard) instead of already drawn for combat. Iai is composed of drawing the sword (nukitsuke), delivering the killing blow in minimum time using a defined technique and returning the sword to the saya (scabbard) – sometimes this can be a matter of seconds!. Starting positions for iai can be from combative postures or from everyday setting or standing positions.

There are basically three opening positions.

  • Seiza is a kneeling posture and is considered a non-combative position.

  • Tate-hiza is a position developed for when the warrior or bushi was wearing armour and needed to lower himself into a seated position and is considered neutral, i.e. neither combative or non-combative.

  • Standing.

Another position is tachi-ai, and is also considered neutral. Deserving special mention, there is one other opening position which is considered combative and is typical of Katori Shinto ryu, called iai-goshi, characterised by being the starting position for most KSR iai, including several leaping draws.

The reason for non-combative or neutral posture is that these are the positions of everyday life. One could expect a surprise attack at anytime, from the front, rear or side, even when inside and seated, so the ability to react from an everyday starting position was considered essential.

The student at our dojo will start their studies using the bokken, emulating the live blade by wearing it in the obi, exactly the same as a real sword in its saya (scabbard). Advancing through study, students will progress to a practice sword called an iaito, which is has an unsharpened blade made of aluminium or zinc alloy, but which feels and weighs almost the same as a steel sword. Practice consists of:

  • Kamae (stances)

  • Cuts

  • Thrusts

  • Blocks

  • Paired kata

  • Single kata

  • Chiburi (removing blood from the blade)

  • Noto (replacing blade in the saya)

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