Lessons in Iai-do
The Iai-bu of the Hawaii Kendo Federation compiled a photo journal of iai-do instructions to share with other students. The photos are captioned with key points of each movement. The information was extracted from the 1995 publication of the "Aiea Taiheiji Kendo Manual" and from a second publication nearing it's completion by Dr. Jinichi Tokeshi. The photos and captions were reviewed by Dr. Noboru Akagi, Dr. Jinichi Tokeshi and Mr. Dick Teshima.
"In iai, the opponents are imaginary, but the sword is real. In iai, one reacts to a sudden attack from an imaginary opponent by artfully drawing the sword (nukitsuke), striking (kiritsuke), shaking the blood from the sword (chiburi), then returning the sword to the scabbard (noh toh)."
The lessons will be added to the website every six
weeks. The first lesson begins with manners including toh rei
and tai toh. This will be followed with the 12 techniques of the
All Japan Kendo Federation Sei Tei Iai as follows:
These photo lessons were meant to be used with reference to the manuals by Dr. Jinichi Tokeshi. If you have any questions regarding the information provided to you in this section, please refer to your own instructor for further guidance.
The following are points
to remember throughout one's performance:
An introduction by Dr. Jinichi Tokeshi
Reiho is an essential part of all Japanese martial arts, especially in iai-do. Iai-do begins with rei and ends with rei.
An iai practiioner enters the dojo and bows to show respect and appreciation for the place of training. Before beginning the practice, he bows to the kamiza (shinza, shomen, altar) to show respect for the higher being. This is done from a standing stance with the sword in a position to reveal absolutely no aggression. From the seiza stance, he bows to the sword not only for the respect but to ask the sword to protect him/her while he/she practices. At this time it should be noted that the kensen should not point directly towards the kamiza. When practice is over, he bows again to the sword, kamiza and then to the teacher.
Scenario: Both of you sit in seiza position facing each other. You sense your opponent may attack you. You seize the opportunity and draw your sword, cutting across your opponent's temple (between the right ear and eye), and finally dropping your sword squarely from above for a coup de grace or the finishing stroke on your opponent. You shake the blood from your sword (chiburi), return your sword to the scabbard (noh-toh) and maintain zanshin (state of readiness) as you watch to make sure your opponent does not move or strike back.
Scenario: Your opponent is sitting behind you. You feel the sakki of your opponent. You take sen, draw your sword, and cut into his temple as you turn around to face him. Further, strike downwards squarely from above to make a decisive victory.
Scenario: Your opponent is sitting on your left side when he suddenly stands up and starts to attack you as you are sitting. As you stand up, you deflect the opponent's strike and immediately return the attack with a diagonal cut from his left shoulder to his waist.
B. Then, place the right foot to the inner side of the left foot as you stand up. Turn the kissaki from behind to the right upper side (just as your opponent's sword hits and slide down your own sword). Turn your body toward your opponent. Bring the left hand to the tsuka and without hesitation, strike down in kesagiri (diagonally on your opponent's left shoulder as you slide your left foot behind).
D. Take the right hand off the tsuka, then re-grasp it with the palm facing downwards.
E. Take the left hand off the tsuka to hold the koiguchi, then for the right hand to face upward, turn the sword in a pendulum-like motion. Insert the sword into the saya in yoko ichimonji. Complete the correct nohtoh move as the left knee touches the floor.
F. When finished nohtoh, stand up and bring
the left foot toward the right foot while keeping
G. Remove the right hand from the tsuka, then assume the taitoh position.
H. Take a step back with your left foot while keeping zanshin and return to the original position.
Notes are from Dr. Jinichi Tokeshi’s Iaido manual
Note: The movement is done while sitting in a tatehiza position which is appropriate for a warrior sitting in full armor.
The following key points are for all techniques and therefore listed here in the appendix. Further additions will be made as new key points are introduced with new lessons. The key points were written with simplicity and does not include a full explanation. Please refer to your instructor or Dr. Tokeshi's manual for further explanations.
Kokyu-breathing: Breathe using your abdominal muscles inconspicuously so your opponent cannot tell which cycle of breathing you are in. Between waza, take two slow breaths and at the end of the inspiratory phase of the third breath, initiate the next movement.
Seme-Physical or psychological pressure applied to the opponent before striking.
Nukitsuke-drawing and striking of the sword without hesitation.
Saya-biki-pulling back of the scabbard. Pulling back of the scabbard along the left waistline is used simultaneously during the moment of drawing the sword and sometimes during chiburi. The purpose is to give an extra "snap" to the strike and chiburi.
Kirioroshi-cutting down the opponent. This movement of coup de grace or bringing one's opponent to his demise is preceded by nukitsuke and furikaburi. With sword in two hands, after nukitsuke, raise the sword above the head (furikaburi) using a full arc, strike the opponent with one powerful movement. During he final motion as the sword meets the opponent, one should squeeze the arms and hands for a powerful end.
Chiburi-shaking the blood from the sword. There are three different ways to perform chiburi in various wazas. The first waza is similar to shaking the rain from an umbrella. This is done by bringing the sword in hand to the right temple and then shaking the blood by "whipping" the sword in a diagonal motion from the right temple to waist. The second is to bring the sword to the side with the blade in a horizontal position to the floor. The third is simply to allow the blood to run off of the blade by tilting the sword.
Zanshin-leave the mind on your opponent after defeat. It is very important to keep your attention focused on your opponent after defeating him to remain alert and ready to strike immediately should there be a movement. Your eyes and mind should be maintained on your opponent until the end of the waza.
Metsuke-focus of your eyes should be directed about 4 to 5 meters
ahead, whether you are sitting or standing. The partially closed eyes
should be as though one is gazing at a distant
Nohtoh-returning the sword to the scabbard. It is most important to keep zanshin while returning the sword to the scabbard.
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