Introduction: Iaido Techniques

Picture of Iaido Techniques

This will teach you some of the techniques of Iaido.

Step 1: Releaseing the Blade

Press thumb up against the tsuba (hand guard) while holding the sheath of the sword.This should release the blade from the sheath.(no image needed)

Step 2: NUKI TSUKE (draw and Cut)

Picture of NUKI TSUKE  (draw and Cut)

From A sitting position (sitting on your feet toes pointed back and your knees touching the ground) you take your right hand and grasp the tsuka (handle)(your sitting position should stay the same except that you toes should now be under you so you can stand up if needed). Then you start to draw the sword from the saya and, start rotating both the saya and blade so that the ha (cutting edge) is pointing to your left after you have drawn half the blade. While you are doing this you should be on your left knee and your right foot should be on the ground next to it. Wile you are continuing to draw out the blade you should be rotating your upper torso slowly and when the blade is free from the saya you swing your arm that is holding the sword to your right. Have some self control when you do this, don't knock yourself over.

(Pics are no of me but will be replaced by me sometime soon)

Step 3: KIRI TSUKE (finishing Cut)

Picture of KIRI TSUKE (finishing Cut)

The sword is raised to a jodan (upper, above the head) position (furi kaburi). The right hand moves so that it does not block your vision. Grasp the tsuka with the left hand in the proper cutting position in a very relaxed grip. No further movements or adjustments of the hands on the handle should be made before immediately cutting down. As in all big and powerful movements, the tip of the sword must start. This is accomplished by first tightening the grip of the tsuka and then rotate your wrists as your arms start their movement forward-downward. The feeling should be of throwing away the tip as far as possible. You should step forward with your right foot at the same time, so that your legs have the same position as in the end of nukitsuke. Your arms should be slightly bent throughout the cut. The cut finishes so that the tsuba is slightly lower than the right knee, and even with the kneecap. The kissaki points down slightly to clear the groin of the opponent. The eyes follow the drop of the foe to the floor, not the tip of the sword. Grasp the tsuka with the left hand just above the tsuka gashira for more power. The cut is made as soon as the power can be applied with the left hand. The pause at the top is less than 1/2 second if there is one at all. Kiri otoshi is done at full speed and power with the feeling of cutting through anything that's in the way. The tip of the sword (kissaki) should lead the motion, not the arms. The right hand's movement is like throwing something as far away as possible, left hand is like rotate (forward-upward) and then strongly down. Stop the cut by gripping tightly with both hands, most with the pinky and ring fingers, some with the long finger. The index fingers and thumbs are not gripping just laying on the tsuka.

Step 4: Nihonme, Ushiro (rear)

Picture of Nihonme, Ushiro (rear)

In this move the swordsman is seated in the formal seiza position (the position i told you about in the first step). When he/she senses an attack from an opposing individual from behind, the swordsman acts by simultaneously drawing his sword and rotating 180°. The swordsman acts with a horizontal strike to the head of his attacker. You do this by going from the sitting position to standing on your left leg but still kneeling on your right. You then spin your right leg while swinging the sword to your right at your opponent. Then, after moving forward, he/she strikes with a lethal overhead cut. (You hold the sword like in instruction number 2)

Step 5: Yonhonme, Tsukaate (Strike With the Handle of the Sword)

Picture of Yonhonme, Tsukaate (Strike With the Handle of the Sword)

The swordsman is seated in a posture which allows his right knee to be raised off the ground. This seated posture, called take-hiza, was common for swordsmen who wore full armor, to facilitate standing. The swordsman in this situation is confronted with two attackers, one in front and one in back. Using the butt-end of his sword's hilt (tsuka kashira), the swordsman delivers a temporarily disabling strike to the solar plexus of the attacker in front. He quickly rotates 90° to dispose of his rear attacker with a horizontal thrust of his sword (tsuki), followed by a frontal pivot, to deliver the mortal overhead strike to his original stunned opponent in front.

Step 6: Thanks

Picture of Thanks

More will be added soon when i have more time.

Thanks to

for pics and some info


nelson.ramirez.12382 (author)2014-11-03

hi pat need to get this on my pdf i am on face book can you help me out

Sgt.Waffles (author)2007-05-23

Meh, i bought a fake, non sharpend one at a gunshow. Took it out to my bench grinder, and its pretty sharp. Some more explaining (ie better pics) could be used.

What you sharpened Sgt Waffles, was an Iaito -- the training sword for Iai. I did the same thing a couple of decades ago and ruined a very expensive training sword, so I could have a 'real' one. I eventually bought an antique sword in Gunto mounts (katana in WW II sword furniture) and after building a traditional saya (sheath) and tsuka (handle), I trained with that one. I thought I was getting pretty good at Iaido after a year or two and one day, started to move 'way too fast in a kata and wound up running the sword through my hand. I embarrassed to admit this on a public forum. There's a reason that swords were the weapon of choice for several thousand years. They DO remove human limbs without much problem or training at all. You know how you can cut your finger with your pocket knife? Now imagine that cutting power applied with a lever (as in physics). Like anything else, don't imagine that the movies tell you much truth about combat. If you've ever fired a pistol and tried to hit a target at any distance, cowboys shooting from the back of a galloping horse is a waste of bullets. Most of the practice of Iaido is inside your head; readying your mind to respond with deadly calm to a very close and deadly attack. Thousands of repetitions, trying to get to the point where the sword draws itself.

Tek909 (author)gezortenplotz2013-05-07

good advice!! how many stitches?

thinker (author)gezortenplotz2007-07-09

hehe, shooting guns from horseback i dont know about, but i saw a guy shoot 6 out of 7 arrows from a crossbow and hit a target 40ish ft away on a moving horse after 10mins instruction. hehe he missed the 7th cos he fell off the horse what u have to do is compensate for the horses rhythm, if its at a gallop/trot/canter its pace has a set up-down rhythm (to maximise its own efficiency) all u have to do is know when to fire and so long as you have an alright aim to begin with you shud be okay :)

It was $20, so it couldnt have been THAT good of a sword. Good to know though.

Pat Sowers (author)Sgt.Waffles2007-05-24

iaito are mostly always non sharpend

Sgt.Waffles (author)Pat Sowers2007-05-24

Oh, if its sharpened, then what do you call it?

Pat Sowers (author)Sgt.Waffles2007-05-24

A Shinken

Sgt.Waffles (author)Pat Sowers2007-05-24

Wow, this is Anyone else do any non-weapon-utilizing martial arts like brazilian jujitsu or muay thai? I could use a new sparring partner in te wichita ks area. just a thought.

Pat Sowers (author)Sgt.Waffles2007-05-25

i will try to put up videos but this is still a hard to do lifetime sport.

Pat Sowers (author)Sgt.Waffles2007-05-23

you can get som good swords at

Sgt.Waffles (author)Pat Sowers2007-05-23

I dont need to spend money on swords right now. I need to buy some more fish. Had a poweroutage, and it wiped out half of my stock in my 55.

hg341 (author)Sgt.Waffles2007-05-23

odd when i posted you did they appered at the same time!!!

Camisado (author)2008-07-19

Hey, can you do that awesome draw cut move? what was it called? The Yoko Ichimonji?

Pat Sowers (author)Camisado2008-07-19

sure ill make a note for myself to do that

Camisado (author)Pat Sowers2008-07-19

Wow.... YOU CAN???? you must be pretty amazing.... Oh, and FYI: Yoko Ichimonji is an awesome sword move that you can do by learning the I-ai style ( draw cut style ). This totally awesome moves actually delivers a short focused 'energy' wave and will extend a normal sword attack to about 10 meters at the max. But a beginner's Yoko Ichimonji is just a strengthened version of a normal draw cut...... ( I think ) and YES, it does exist. Oh, and correct me if I'm wrong, I don't really know much about that move either

Pat Sowers (author)Camisado2008-07-19

idk even know if its posible lol but i ment if i could find out how to do it i would teach you lol

Camisado (author)Pat Sowers2008-07-19

Teach me? thanks!

Tek909 (author)Camisado2013-05-07

your trolling right?

Xonah (author)Camisado2008-08-17

Sounds very cool, is there a vid on Youtube or somethings? 'Cause I seriously want to see it! Would be cool if it is possible.

Camisado (author)Xonah2008-08-20

Mmmmm.... I remember seeing a couple o' videos about it..... but what I do know is that it does exist.

Got any links to show us? I'd be pretty interested in seeing it too. The most common "yoko ichimonji" I've seen referred to is a naginata technique, where the 'extension' would come from the naginata basically being a blade on a stick. So yes, definitely interested in seeing this done with a sword.

Forgot to mention, there's apparently also a type of hakama knot with the same name, and a "yoko ichi monji" referring to a horizontal sword cut, albeit one without any special powers.

Yoko Ichimonji is basically a horizontal sword draw cut, albeit a very powerful and somewhat super-human. While that being the basic gist of the move, I have never seen one that can extend. That's why I was so shocked when he said he can do it.

Er, YOU are the one who first mentioned the special extension powers. Before you said anything about that, it could easily have been interpreted as the simple horizontal cut. The regular cut isn' super human at all, just effective. How much tv have you been watching?

Xonah (author)Camisado2008-08-21

Nice, very cool. Too bad you can't learn it in my country (The Netherlands), it would be tight if I knew how to do that move.

Camisado (author)Xonah2008-08-22

Yea..... slashing bad guys from afar does look cool.... And another good news about this move: You don't even have to weild a real sword! ( Although beginners might have trouble doing this.... ) That's right! Once you got the skill to do this move, you can do it with a Bokken and the results are the same ( only dulled down a teeny little bit ). ! But, maybe you cant use plastic swords for this move..... wood is the best shank you can get. Every move has it's limits.....

Xonah (author)Camisado2008-08-22

So you're telling me that a proffesional could use his hand to perform this technique?! Holy cow.. I want to learn that move!

Camisado (author)Xonah2008-08-22

No. You must at least have a bokken.

crampedyogapositions (author)2009-05-11

what tupe of style of iaido do you do? i do kendo and iaido but i had to quit (iaido) because of my bad knees. theres lots of different stules which one do you do? i appoligise for the bad spelling

Camisado (author)2008-12-16


sniper1 (author)2008-10-07

can anyone tell me all/ or some of the samuria techniques

ulakac (author)2008-03-11

are you by any chance related to walter sowers?the bladesmith. just curious.

Pat Sowers (author)ulakac2008-03-11

to tell you the truth idk....... im gana have to look into that.

jtobako (author)2007-05-25

The typed descriptions lack something. Maybe adding foot placement diagrams, better lit and sequential photos and/or video from several angles (without the hakama or keido-gi so we can see movements better). I realize that the costume is part of the movements, but remote training means that someone (the student) has to be able to see what is right and wrong about their stances. The outfit is designed to hide movements-a master can see what is going on but a beginner won't be able to.

jongscx (author)jtobako2007-11-09

although at the same time, we don't want this to be a "how to" on sword-fighting... This is why you don't see many detailed instructions of wushus/katas on the internet. Some people would be like "Hey, I can self-study this..." try it out for real, and get hurt. This is good for if you're starting, and just need a refresher... but have already been shown the proper way to do it/can check back to see if you're doing it right.

Pat Sowers (author)jtobako2007-05-25

ya i will try to do that some time

theprofessor (author)2007-06-22

Very nice and all but self teaching is a dumb idea, find a dojo and a real instructor, otherwise you will do nothing but teach yourself bad habits and potentially injure yourself. To peter, if you think kendo is boring iaido has no place for you, kata based sword arts are even more tedious.

Pat Sowers (author)theprofessor2007-06-22

I do agree with you about self teaching so I would like to stress that if you are going to try this that you should use a wooden training sword and do a lot of stretching so that you dont hurt yourself. And to (The Professor) I was only teaching the basics of what I know thinking that people would be smart and not do something stupid that would get themselves hurt. In conclusion if anyone who reads this instructable and likes Iaido and would like to learn more, than yes you should find a dojo where they can teach you because they can teach you better than I can.

Pat Sowers (author)Pat Sowers2007-06-22

If you dont want to join a dojo than somehow show me a vid of what you are doing and what your ? is and I will do the best I can to help.

Mace42 (author)2007-06-10

Nice ;)

NE-Phil (author)2007-05-24

What's a laido? It's always a good idea when writing up any kind of procedure or Instructable to define terms or word if they're not typically known to the general public. I look forward to your completing this.

jtobako (author)NE-Phil2007-05-24

Iaido is usually described as 'quick draw' or 'cutting', specializing in single stroke actions (that hopefully kill or incapacitate your attacker). It's billed as a defense against an ambush, that's why you start out kneeling : )

Pat Sowers (author)NE-Phil2007-05-24

an iaido is a sword that is often unsharpened

gezortenplotz (author)2007-05-24

Nice detailed instructable. Congratulations. Hope those who read this understand that this description is actually an invitation for a lifetime study. I've been training in Iai for 11 years and I haven't even scratched the surface.

PetervG (author)2007-05-23

Isn't Iaido the martial art where you practice for if you were in a flight agenest like 30 people? I'd love to take that, but don't think there are any around here. I'm getting a bit bored of Kendo.

Pat Sowers (author)PetervG2007-05-23

go to google and look there is plenty of dojos around

PetervG (author)Pat Sowers2007-05-23

None where I live. Plus, I bought a garment for Kendo. My Hakama Gi. Or do you wear the same in Iaido? What weapon(s) do you use?

Pat Sowers (author)PetervG2007-05-23

you need a keiko-gi, and a hakama. the weapons you use are your hands and a katana.

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Bio: Im 17 years old. I love to build things, mainly weaponry and planes. I like hard core music and im on instructables just about every ... More »
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