Iaido is a martial art that originated and developed in medieval Japan to train samurai in the use of the long-sword called katana, either for self-defence or to prepare them for battle. Today the art is taught as sets of forms (kata), concentrating on a smooth steady drawing of the sword and efficient cutting whilst at all times maintaining perfect posture and balance. The ultimate aim of Iaido is ongoing self-development.

The equipment used in Iaido practice is a dull-edged sword called an iaito, or for beginners, a wooden sword called bokuto or bokken. You will need loose fitting clothes, such as a tracksuit and loose top (no jeans), then later, traditional clothing. You will also need to bring kneepads – the bokuto is provided by the dojo.

Iaido can be practiced by anyone – irrespective of age and physical ability. The depth and intensity of the training is increased gradually and tailored to suit the individuality of each student. With the accumulation of experience it leads to the full realisation of one’s potential.

There are four levels of development:

  • ZNKR – set of 12 kata formulated by the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei (All Japan Kendo Federation)
  • Shoden- first series of traditional school, 12 kata
  • Chuden- middles series of traditional school, 10 kata
  • Okuden- secret series of traditional school, 8 sitting kata & 11 standing

Sixty-nine kata in all (including alternative techniques).