View Full Version : help on drawing and sheath the sword

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10-19-2005, 02:04 AM
i don't have much books and video that i can get hold that would teach me the basics in pulling out and sheath the sword back to the scabbard. i don't exactly know how far should me left hand reside from the mouth of the scabbard when putting back the sword or where exactly to lay the dull edge on the left hand when putting it back to the scabbard, etc.

I would appreciate if you can provide me good links that contains video that i can watch or any referrence where i can get a clear picture how exactly the proper way to do it.


p.s. detailed step by step description would be welcomed.

10-19-2005, 02:36 AM
actually your left hand should cover the mouth of the saya (scabbard), so that the outside of the 'hole' is not viewable. However - this is just one small detail out of a vast number - many of which vary a lot regarding to style.

I appreciate your interest in Iaido and your desire to get started, but I wouldn't really recommend solo-practice. I just don't believe in it - and it is by no means as effective as studying under a skilled teacher. If there is absolutely no possibility for you to find a teacher you can see on a regular basis then the second best thing would be to go to a seminar somewhere and pick up as many hints and tricks to bring back and practice by yourself as possible. Explain your situation and they will probably be able to guide you. Then return to the same teacher when ever possible.

Good luck.

10-19-2005, 03:18 AM
thank you very much for your reply. i also hope i could find dojos that teaches iaido around my area.

10-19-2005, 05:50 AM
No problem - hope you find a place.

However... since you probably cant keep your fingers of the blade until you find a teacher please remember a few important points: First of all: The sword must be compltely out of the saya before you start cutting - NEVER start a cutting movement towards your right (or any other direction for that matter) with the blade still a few centimeteres within the saya. You can break the saya, and perhaps the sword depending on the material. Even worse you can seriously cut yourself.

Secondly: when you hold the sword in front of you with both hands right hand should be in front all the way up to the tsuba (pary plate - sp?) and your left hand should be all the way to the bottom of the tsuka (handle). Some styles of iaido teach actually having your left hand extend half an inch below the end of the handle. Both hands should be placed on top of your sword so that your thumbs and the next finger (name escapes me) forms two V's above each other. Keep your elbows close to your body - not by force but in a relaxed way. Finally hold the sword horisontally and about a fist from your abdomen. Don't hold it in front of your private parts - that is too low. Don't hold it in front of your chest - that is too high. Just around the lower part of the stomach may be okay.

If you do suburi (cutting exercises) cut with left hand delivering about 70 percent of the energy and try to make a straight vertical line. All the time imagine that the sword should be allowed to cut by itself, so that you don't use a lot of force, but just aid the sword in following it's natural path.

A final piece of REALLY GOOD ADVISE: Get hold of a wodden sword and do about 500 cuts a day for a moth before even picking up your sword. Right now holdig the sword is such a strange and new bodymovement, that you are bound to injure yourself at some point. I'm serious. If you have the disciplin you will be happy later. And trust me - being good at any MA including Iaido requires disciplin. I don't have it to the needed extent but I know some people that do.

Take good care of your self and NEVER EVER practice with somebody around. It is simply too dangerous.

Jeffrey A. Fong
10-19-2005, 09:59 AM
Three basic suggestions which will make more sense as you become more experienced:

1) go slowly;
2) use both hands;
3) breathe;

And did I mention, go slowly????!!

Good luck


Ron Tisdale
10-19-2005, 10:49 AM
Yikes! Scary business. If you insist on training without a teacher, please get one of those bokken with a saya...much less dangerous.


Walter Wong
10-19-2005, 01:55 PM
What is your location Van? I might (no promises) be able to find something in your area in regards to Japanese sword art training.
There's nothing quite like learning Japanese swordsmanship under a legitimate teacher.

And sharp blades are dangerous. Without the guidance, you have a high chance of hurting or killing yourself.

Scroll down to the posts by Donald Rice. This gentleman once tried to teach himself Japanese sword art by looking at pics and videos. He's lucky to be alive and have body parts still attached. He has yet to regain normal use of his left hand still from his accident of self teaching but he's working on it.

10-25-2005, 06:49 AM
hi..thanks for your reply...im from philippines actually....my sword actually is not sharp and can't be use for cutting....i got my sword from tozando...i basically do aikido but would like to learn the basic of swordsmanship like propero drawing and sheathing of the sword back to scabbard as well as some cutting and basic kenjutsu techniques..

btw, i'd appreciate if you can also suggest specific books and video (at least the good ones) that would show the above mentioned basics...thanks..

10-25-2005, 09:57 AM
Different styles perform different Batto (or iai), saya biki, and no-to. But, I agree completely with the above posts...find instruction because bad habits with katana are a horrible thing to try to rectify. And even if you are using an iaito, the kissaki can cause some damage.

10-25-2005, 09:18 PM
ok thanks..i would still appreciate though if you can recommend some particular videos and books that are considered to be good if not excellent... thanks again...

Richard Elias
10-26-2005, 07:48 PM
"i basically do aikido but would like to learn the basic of swordsmanship like propero drawing and sheathing of the sword back to scabbard as well as some cutting and basic kenjutsu techniques"

No offence but you cannot learn proper anything without a teacher... espcially basics... and most especially sword.

The basics are the most important part of your training... Anything you get from a video or a book is but a general idea of how things are done, without a teacher to show you the intricacies then when you finally do find a teacher a good portion of your training will be trying to overcome the bad habits that you taught yourself.

10-26-2005, 09:40 PM
hi...i totally agree and appreciate your comments...however, given the situation that we don't have any iado dojos around my place, i was only hoping to get some basic knowledge on some instructional videos...this of course i know would not be the best means and as you mentioned, having a teacher would still be the best option.

Ron Tisdale
10-27-2005, 08:36 AM
What people are very gently trying to say is that having a teacher is really the ONLY option.

Books, videos are great IF you have even a long distance instructor to give HANDS ON instruction. If you are serious, you'll make time to find one within some kind of do-able travel distance even if only once a month, or even two or three months, if the training time is from a few to several days at a time. Short of that, your only safe, reasonable bet is to wait for the right opportunity.


Walter Wong
10-27-2005, 12:23 PM
Van, there are seminars that happen throughout the year every year around the country and world that's open to the public to learn authentic Japanese swordsmanship. Since there is no dojo of Iai or Kenjutsu near you, a very good option is attend one of these seminars. Save money for the seminar and travel (plane/bus) and living expenses and attend one of these.

You're in luck with a very affordable seminar on a fine Japanese sword art called Suio Ryu in Encinitas, California for $100.00 from January 14-16, 2006.

You'll find announcements on seminars on different Japanese sword arts on these forums:




Sometimes a few seminars of different Japanese sword arts in different locations are happening around the sametime. Sometimes you'll see one seminar only.

If you find you can fly to Spain in April of 2006, here's another great seminar on Shindo Yoshin Ryu.

Learn from a live professional. Not from books, pictures or videos. Books/videos are used as references by those who are recieving live instruction under a legitimate sensei. Books are not meant for teaching from ground zero.

Someone once said to me, nothing in the Japanese sword arts is cheap and convienant.

Aiki LV
10-27-2005, 04:26 PM
I think it is great that you have an interest in learning this particular art. It is both very beautiful and powerful when demonstrated by someone who knows what they are doing. I would strongly recommend not practicing this type of thing on your own. It is very dangerous, even if you are using the typical unsharpened iaito. I've heard a few horror stories from a Iaido Sensei of people dying because they made a mistake and hurt themselves while practicing with no one home to help them. If at all possible find a Sensei to train under. Videos and books aren't the same thing as actually training with other people. You can't attain a true physical understanding and knowledge without experienced critique and correction by a Sensei.

10-28-2005, 02:58 AM
thanks for your reply...i hope that i can save enough money to attend these seminars..appreciate all your suggestions. thanks.

Kent Enfield
10-28-2005, 01:14 PM
An example of why you shouldn't try to teach yourself anything about batto or noto:

He nearly died. (http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?threadid=53083)

Page two of the thread contains pictures of the injury, post surgery. It's not until page four that he admits he was trying to learn something on his own.

Hell, I've put an iaito through the sleeve of my keikogi, and that was with my sensei watching.

Stefaan Six
10-29-2005, 01:03 PM
Another point to consider is that usually a student of iaido is supposed to train with a bokuto (bokken) for about a year. The idea is to get used to the basic movements in a safe way - if you don't have a saya you can use your left hand to imitate the mouth of the saya (koiguchi). It's a good idea to buy a bokuto with saya - or you can make a saya yourself (plastic or hard carton is good enough). After training for about a year with a bokuto, the sensei then usually gives permission to use iaito if he thinks you're not going to hurt yourself or your surroundings.
Another reason to really look for a good teacher is that normally to learn how to handle the sword well you must not only practice the kata 'in the air' but also with a partner (using bokuto's) so you may actually develop a feel for proper distance, timing, distribution of power, initiative, breathing and other even more difficult matters (such as drawing out your opponent to attack you). But basics are basics. If your partner really attacks you with full strenght, you may want to make sure your defense really works. All of this is impossible to master without a training partner and a good sensei, and LOTS of time and effort put into it. I would say... try to find a teacher and forget about books or video's for at least a year. Then after you learned some basics and you have some notion about how to do the common techniques, you can use a book or video to supplement your training.
Good luck with your training!
Stefaan Six.

Walter Wong
10-31-2005, 12:32 PM
It varies from dojo to dojo about when you move from bokuto to Iaito to Shinken.

For the beginner, my dojo only needs a couple of months training with bokuto before allowing Iaito unless you have previous experience in another ryu training with Iaito then an Iaito is ok first day. For Shinken, my sensei I think gives the ok on an individual basis. Or allowed after several years of training with Iaito.

Some dojos spend a year or longer with bokuto then allow Iaito. Then allowing shinken after a long time with Iaito.

Some dojo move on to Iaito after briefly training with bokuto.

Some dojo don't use Iaito at all and move on to shinken after a long time of using bokuto. Some dojo have you use a shinken right away after briefly training with a bokuto. And afterwards, just use shinken for solo work & tameshigiri (only if tameshigiri is allowed and or a part of the curricullum) and continue to use bokuto for paired partner work.

Every dojo differs in preference and requirements. A year with bokuto isn't a standard for every dojo.

Stefaan Six
11-01-2005, 03:36 AM
Walter, in fact you are quite right... it does differ from dojo to dojo. And indeed some people are allowed to use iaito after only a short period of training with bokken; it depends on the individual and his teacher. I merely wanted to point out that most teachers stress the safety issue and therefore insist on practicing with bokuto first ...
Best Regards,

Walter Wong
11-01-2005, 08:29 AM
Oh ok. Sorry I misunderstood you Stefaan.

But I suppose even though a sensei that allows Iaito use after a short period of training with bokken, that if one is still hitting themself or swinging without control, then he/she maybe asked to continue training with bokken til the coordination gets better.

11-18-2005, 02:41 PM
wow i counted at least six posts warning with stories and images of training without a teacher,

i share everyone's sentiments that its great that you want to learn but really... this is serious.

I have practiced iaido for 4 years now, and started out for six months with a bokken, and even now only use an iaito.

I agree with everyone's posts, and will add mine to the list. Go to a seminar, or find a teacher.

In the short term, you can severly damage or even kill yourself, in the long term you will establish poor fundamentals which will be difificult to unlearn. Which will ultimately lead to more accidents and dissapointment.

I wonder if this may be an issue of not respecting the katana, or the practice of Iaido. As everyone has made very clear, the consequenses of improper training are huge.

good luck. and pleaseplease be careful.


Walter Wong
11-18-2005, 04:45 PM
Here's a Kenjutsu/Aikijujutsu seminar coming up on January 21 and 22 of 2006. $150.00 for 2 days. Still interested in learning how to use the Japanese sword? Attend this seminar. I promise you won't be disappointed with this one. I'll see you there.


11-21-2005, 12:45 AM
hi...that would be a bit difficult for me since i live here in the philippines and i don't have enough money to buy plane tickets.. i would love to though to attend such seminar...thanks for the info..

11-21-2005, 11:50 PM
You might try contacting the webmaster at http://phcaikido.tripod.com/ (Philippine Heart Center Aikido Club). He should be able to introduce you to a student of Sugewara-sensei (http://www.sugawarabudo.com/) who practices Aikido and Katori Shinto Ryu there in Manila.

11-21-2005, 11:52 PM
Whoops. Sorry! Should've spelled that "Sugawara-sensei".

11-24-2005, 12:05 AM
R Jun Batobalani Sensei, 6th Dan Aikikai, also holds a 3rd Dan in Aiki Toho Iaido, awarded personally by Nishio Sensei. Aiki Toho Iaido is a form of Iaido directly related to Nishio Sensei's (8th Dan Aikikai) Aikido. His dojo is in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan.

12-01-2005, 07:46 PM
hi...thanks for your reply...i was able 2 visit the dojo of sugawara-sensei in manila...unfortunately, they are very strict in membership and not flexible enough in terms of payment...i can most likely be able to practice with them once a week but they have no option to pay on a per session basis but rather pay the monthly fee...

as for that in urdaneta, the more it would be difficult since im working in manila and it's way too far...i might join though some of his seminars...

12-05-2005, 07:40 PM
Hope to see you in Urdaneta, 20-22 January 2006. Aiki Toho Iaido will be one of the arts covered in the Seminar.


12-05-2005, 08:52 PM
great..thanks for the info...