Iaido is the art of Japanese swords drawing. For those who are interested in Iaido, in today’s world, instruction can be found in many of the Kendo regulated martial arts schools. In fact most Iaido taught today is learned as part of Kendo.
The All Japan Kendo Association has developed 12 katas, representative of forms, for Iaito. They are often referred to as Seitei Kata Iaido or Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei Seitei Gata Iaido. As a beginner with Iaido here are the 12 main forms you can expect to learn. With each one I have given the name of the kata, its rough English translation, and a basic overview of what the kata entails.
Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei Seitei Gata Iaido
- Mae (Front): Starts from a kneeling position and is intended to stop a frontal attack.
- Ushiro (Rear): Again starting from a kneeling position, and intended to stop an attack from behind.
- Uke Nagashi (Receive, Parry, and Cut): From a kneeling position, you parry an attack coming from the left.
- Tsuka Ate (Striking with the Hilt): Beginning with one raised knee you stop both a frontal and rear attack.
- Kesagiri (Diagonal Cut): Beginning from a standing position you forestall a frontal attack.
- Morote Tsuki (Two Hand Thrust): From standing, you stop three attackers. Two coming from the front, and one from behind.
- Sanpogiri (Three Direction Cut): Starting from a standing position you stop three attackers (coming from left, right, and front).
- Ganmen Ate (Hit to the Face): From standing you stop both a frontal and rear attacker.
- Soete Tsuki (Joined-hand Thrust): Stopping an attacker from the left; starts with a standing position.
- Shiho Giri (Four Direction Cutting): Forestalling four attackers from a standing position.
- Sou Giri (Complete Cuts): Five different cuts beginning from a standing position.
- Nuki Uchi (Sudden Draw): Beginning from standing you avoid and then respond to a frontal attack.
After you have learned these 12 forms well, you can take your 1st Kyu. Once you are finished most students move on to study Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido, one of the older forms on Iaido.