IAIDO: The Art of Drawing the Sword

It has been said that a battle of swords is a battle of character. When competing in Iaido, you are comparing spirit, strength and ability through depth of practice.

    Here is a list of Seite Iai check points.  It comes from the Jan 2, 2000 updated version of the ZNKR (All Japan Kendo Federation) Iai Booklet. The two additions are of course the new forms Sou Giri, and Nuki Uchi.

Thanks to Robert Stroud for these.

All Japan Kendo Federation Iai Shinsa from the All Japan Kendo Federation

Is the proscribed sequence of manners (proper bowing and procedure) demonstrated ?

1, Mae
1) During nukituke (drawing) is there sufficient sayabiki  (pullback of scabbard)?

2) Is jodan kamae (furikabutte) assumed with the feeling of  thrusting back along side of the left ear?

3) Does the kissaki (sword tip) not drop down below horizontal after raising up to jodan kamae (furikabutte)?

4) Is there no pause before the down-ward cut (kiri oroshi)?

5) Is the kissaki (sword tip) slightly down after finishing the kirioroshi (finishing) cut?

6) Is the posture during chiburi (sword cleaning motion) correct?

7) Is noto (sword re-sheathing) done correctly?

2, Ushiro
1) When drawing the sword and simultaneously turning, does the left foot move firmly forward as it goes slightly to the left?

2) Does the draw (nukituke) cut correctly toward the opponent's temple?

3, Uke Nagashi
1) Has the stance that makes Uke Nagashi protected the upper body?

2) Does the left foot pull back behind the right foot with the kesa (diagonal) cut ?

3) Does the left fist stop in front of the navel with the sword tip (kissaki) slightly lower?

4, Tsuka Ate
1) Does the butt of the sword handle (kashira) strike squarely to the enemy's solar plexus?

2) When facing the rear enemy, does the left hand grip the scabbard mouth (koi guchi) squeezing with a jamming motion to the front of the navel, as the tsuki is made, with the right elbow straightened out?

3) Turning to face the front enemy, does the sword pull out as the hilt (butt of the handle) goes up to furikabbutte, and then cut down right thru the front enemy?

5, Kesa giri
1) After finishing the reverse kesa upward cut, and rotating the sword for the return downward cut, is the right fist above the right shoulder?

2) As the left foot is pulled back, does the left hand grasp the koi guchi, at the same time as the kesa (diagonal) chiburi is done?

6, Morote Tsuki
1) Does the sudden/surprise downward diagonal head cut finish at the enemy's jaw?

2) As you come to chudan, are you performing a precise tsuki thrust to the solar plexus, by moving your rear foot forward?

3) Does the sword "pull out" move into furikabutte with a blocking uke nagashi motion?

7, Sanpou Giri
1) Does the draw, cut down to the right enemy's jaw?

2) Turning directly to the left enemy, are you cutting down precisely thru him?

3) Using a sliding block (uke nagashi) motion into jodan kamae, do you cut down until the sword is parallel with the floor?

8, Ganmen Ate
1) Does the sword hilt (kashira) thrust correctly to a point between both eyes?

2) Is the right hand grip for the rear enemy correctly held at the right upper hip?

3) Facing completely to the rear enemy, does the heel only raise up slightly with the tsuki?

4) Is the tsuki made without locking the leg?

9, Soete Tsuki
1) When the right kesa (diagonal) drawing cut is made, does the right fist finish at the same height as the navel, with the kissaki slightly higher?

2) Pinching the blade firmly midway along its length, between the left thumb and index finger, does the right fist touch the right upper hip?

3) Does the right fist stop in front of the navel, after the thrusting pierce to the abdomen?

4) During the zanshin follow-thru, does the right elbow not bend or stop higher than the right breast?

10, Shiho Giri
1) When striking with the flat of the handle, is it strong and certain?

2) After uncapping the blade (saya biki), is the backside of the cutting area (monouchi) placed at the left breast, with the right fist away from the body?

3) After thrusting to the rear, and the left hand grasps the scabbard mouth (koi guchi) in front of the navel, do both hand squeeze (shibori) using the whole body?

4) Does the move into the cut (furikabutte) happen with the waki kamae moving into a jodan kame, and not after it?

11, Sou Giri
1) When drawing the sword do you make furi kaburi (raise up above your head) into uke nagashi?

2) Is the footwork okuri ashi, during the cutting techniques?

3) During the stomach/waist area cut made with the edge aligned to the horizontal?

12, Nuki Uchi
1) When drawing the sword back does the right foot move back far enough?

2) Does the right hand raise up to a position on the body centerline after drawing the sword?