Iaido is the art of drawing and using the japanese sword (katana). It is a style of fighting with tradition going back to the 16th century and the samurai. Initially these sword techniques were developed for self-defense and use on the battlefield. With time these techniques have been formalised and developed into its own form budo, providing a means of praciticing with a real sword.
In the modern day iaido is practiced as a means of developing concepts such as concentration, mindfulness and body control. Some practice due to their interest in japanese history, popular culture, and mythology; others for their love of the art style that a traditional katana represents.
The style we practice in iaido is the All-Japanese Kendo Federation official kata-series, sometimes referred to as Seitei iaido. The kendo federation is often shortened as ZNKR, based on its japanese name (Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (全日本剣道連盟)). You can see Ogura-sensei demonstrate these kata here.
Advanced students will also have the possibility of practicing koryu (old style). In our dojo we practice Musō Shinden–ryū (夢想神伝流), which has been the basis of many of the ZNKR kata.
Beginners can practice in their usual sports/gym cloths, as long as they are easy to move around in. We recommend starting with a wooden sword (bokken), which you can borrow from us. After one semester we also recommend buying proper clothes (gi, hakama and obi) and possibly getting an iaito (practice sword with a dull edge), which you also can borrow before buying your own. When buying a sword it is important to consult with your trainers. Both clothes and equipment can be bought from the following web pages: www.ninecircles.eu and www.tozandoshop.com. Traditionally iaido is practiced with a sharp sword (shinken), but this is not used until you have practiced for years.
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