Category: iaido

Working Towards a Coherent and Cohesive Teaching Approach

Introduction: Many good teachers are able to plan on the spot and pull together whatever is at hand to make their lessons work, sometimes ‘picking and mixing’ seemingly disparate approaches, methods, techniques and activities to aid learning. However, for this ‘eclectic fusion’ to be effective, rather than it being unplanned, random and confused, it needs to be underpinned by a clear and sound understanding of the fundamental principles behind various teaching practices. Unfortunately, most people who find themselves in the position of being a teacher of Iaido or indeed any type of Budo; regardless of their nationality be it Japanese, …

The Myth of Chiburi?

In many iaido ryuha, chiburi is a fundamental part of kata. Chiburi, usually written 血振 in Japanese, literally means “shaking off blood,” and the image presented is that of flinging the blood of a defeated enemy off the blade with a deft movement before resheathing. Perhaps mainly due to the prevalence of Muso Shinden-ryu and Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, some people believe that chiburi is a universal aspect of iai. However, many ryuha do not practice chiburi, and there is the opinion – which has become more widespread recently, thanks to the sharing of knowledge via the internet – that shaking …

A Lineage all but Forgotten: The Yushinkan (Nakayama Hakudo)

Introduction There are few martial artists in history who have been able to influence an entire generation of politicians, military personnel, police, educators, and civilians alike.  Who’s student’s (if only for a day) talked about their experiences with him in detail nearly seventy years after his death.  The first San-Dou-no-Hanshi (三道の藩士) in history. The “God of Kendo”  (剣道の神様) Nakayama Hakudo. Nakayama Hakudo was arguably the most influential martial artist in modern history.  Many instructors and students around the world claim to have some “connection” to him, having practiced some form or another of his Iaido. Yet, these same people (in Japan and abroad) know …

Thoughts on Tameshigiri from Famous Swordsmen

Tameshigiri is a very popular element of swordsmanship today. This is perhaps thanks in part to the spread of Toyama-ryu, a system originally created in the 1920s to teach fundamental sword technique to officers in the Imperial Japanese Military. Tameshigiri forms a central part of training in Toyama-ryu and its derivatives, but traditionally, this form of target cutting was not a major element of most systems of swordsmanship. The question of the pros and cons of tameshigiri for those of us studying swordsmanship today has been covered in a previous article by SangWooKim. In this article, I would instead like …

Nukitsuke

Nukitsuke and nukiuchi are different. “Tsuke” means you are acting to forestall an opponent’s attack before it begins. Nukiuchi on the other hand means, precisely, to cut down an opponent. Without understanding the difference between these two, your swordsmanship will not be effective.*   - Kamimoto Eiichi sensei, iaido hanshi 9 dan, kendo hanshi 8 dan This short statement highlights and clarifies an important point about iai (particularly regarding Muso Shinden ryu, Muso Jikiden Eishin ryu and ZNKR iai). It is a simple linguistic point, but even if you speak Japanese it is easy to overlook.