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.

  • ABOUT IAIDO in the FIK (International Kendo Federation)
  • FOREWORD, May 1969, Kazuo Otani, AJKF Administrative Director, ZNKR IAI Manual: English Version (OCT 2006)

    “Kendo and Iaido are closely related. People who do Kendo often refer to the handling of the sword, the spirit as well as Batto (drawing the sword) or Noto (replacing the sword) of Iaido. Kendo practitioners are sometimes asked, “Do you practice Iaido too?” If your answer is negative, then people might look at you in surprise and you may feel a little embarrassed. Generally Kendo and Iaido are considered as a unit and they may take it for granted that those who practice Kendo also practice Iaido.

    By performing Iaido with “real” swords, it is expected to soften the criticism that these days Kendo practitioners only twirl bamboo swords.

    There are many Iaido schools and many forms or Kata, so it is very difficult to master all of them. So from these we chose the basic techniques from each school and put them together so that people could easily learn Iaido and popularize it.

  • 1. Mae ( Front )
    2. Ushiro ( Rear )
    3. Uke Nagashi ( Receive and Flow )
    4. Tsuka Ate ( Strike with Hilt )
    5. Kesa Giri ( Diagonal Cut )
    6. Morote Tsuki ( Two-Hand Thrust )
    7. Sanpo Giri ( Three Direction Cut )
    8. Ganmen Ate ( Strike to the Face )
    9. Soete Tsuki ( Joined-Hand Thrust )
    10. Shiho Giri ( Four Direction Cut )
    11. Sou Giri ( Many Cuts )
    12. Nuki Uchi ( Sudden Draw )

    In 1969, the AJKF introduced its seitei curriculum of seven Iaido kata. These were drawn from, or based on several of the major traditional sword schools, including Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Muso Shinden Ryu and Hoki Ryu. Three more kata were added in 1981 and two more in 2000, increasing the number of Seitei Iaido kata to the current twelve. These kata are officially known as the “All Japan Kendo Federation Iai (Zen Ken Ren Iai), and commonly referred to as Seitei or Seitei-gata.

    The twelve Seitei-gata are now standardized for the tuition, promotion and propagation of Iaido within the kendo federations. Although not all dojo teach Seitei Iaido, the AJKF uses them as a standard for their exams and shiai. As a result, Seitei Iaido has become the most widely recognized form of Iaido in Japan and the rest of the world.

  • Latest Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei Iaido instruction manual English translation: October 2006.

    The International Kendo Federation (FIK) was created in 1970 to oversee the instruction and testing of Kendo, Iaido and Jodo around the world. Organizations within each country (like the Canadian Kendo Federation) must follow the rules and regulations listed by the FIK.

    Individual organizations may also adopt their own requirements as long as they are agreed upon by the FIK committee.