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This handbook is a summarized version of Hiro Inoue sensei's print handout, while adding some additional information. It is intended to provide club members an online learning reference. It is not a formal iaido school script. This is a work in progress.

1. About Club

2. Etiquette

  • Before Class

  • Beginning Class

  • During Class

  • Ending Class

3. Basic Iaido Vocabulary​

  • General

  • Movement

  • Sword Related

  • Equipment and Objects

4. Topics on Techniques

  • Nukitsuke

About Club

1. About Club

Vancouver Eishin Ryū Iaido Club (Esaka Dojo Vancouver) is an officially accredited dojo of Seito Seiryu Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido Kokusai Renmei.

Vancouver Eishin Ryū Iaido Club practices the classical form of iaido known as Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu. This martial art dates back over 450 years and is unbroken in its transmission through the ages.


The founder of the martial art that would later become known as Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu was Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu (c. 1546 - 1621).


Vancouver Eishin Ryu Iaido Club is led by Hiro Inoue Sensei and it is an officially accredited dojo of the iaido international federation known as Seito Seiryu Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido Kokusai Renmei (IKR). Seito Seiryu Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido Kokusai Renmei, also known as Iaido Kokusai Renmei, is headed by Kobara Sensei.


2. Etiquette (Reishiki)

Once you decide to practice Iaido it will become apparent that etiquette is central to the practice of Iaido itself.  In addition to the formal etiquette we practice, you should strive to show respect for your fellow students and sensei in and out of class. 


The most helpful thing to remember is applicable to all martial arts: “Leave your ego at the door”. This means that you should bring an eagerness to learn to every class and strive to better yourself and your practice with each session. 


Below please find some specific examples of expectations and etiquette for all members.

2.1 Before Class

Please arrive on time regularly. If you are late for class please sit in seiza at the door to the dojo and wait for sensei to invite you in so that you do no interrupt others practice. When you enter do so quickly and quietly. 

The floor must be swept before class.  Although sweeping the floors is the responsibility of Dojo members, traditionally more junior members should take the initiative in cleaning.  If you are first to arrive you should begin sweeping, if you arrive later and a student more senior than yourself is sweeping you should offer to take over.

Swords should be placed along the back (ushiro) wall and right wall (Shimoza). Along the back wall your kashira should face to the right (towards Kamiza), while swords along the Shimoza wall should have their kashira facing front (Shomen).

Before class begins please take advantage of the time to warm up or practice. At official seminars this is very strongly encouraged and socializing should mainly occur between sessions.

Once Sensei arrives the shinzen will need to be set up. Just as in sweeping this honor typically falls to more junior students.

2.2 Beginning Class

After warm-ups, footwork exercises, and any kumitachi practice. The formal class officially begins.  You should carry your sword on your left side, close to your hip, with your thumb on the tsuba.  Students should line up quickly with senior students to the left end (Kamiza, Upper Seat) of the dojo and more junior students to the right (Shimoza, Lower Seat). 

We first perform a standing bow to shinzen (shinzen ni rei) to show respect for the school.  Next sit in seiza placing your sword to your right side, and perform a short meditation (mokuso) to clear your mind of your thoughts outside the Dojo so that you can approach practice with all of your focus.  We then bow to Sensei (sensei ni rei) saying “Onegai shimasu” which loosely translates to “please let me train with you”. Finally we bow to our swords (to rei) and then wear our swords (tai to). 

2.3 During Class

All students should strive to approach the entire class earnestly and with a positive attitude of humility and open-mindedness.  Between waza focus on the instruction being provided by sensei or your senpai. Much is learned by simply observing. Seek perfection in everything you do, from basic rei-ho to the most advanced waza.

Always perform the waza exactly as described by the sensei or senpai teaching.  At seminars it will be common to encounter slight variations in waza and you should perform the waza as instructed. Be adaptable.

If you do need to step out during class, inform the instructor and do so with a little disruption to practice as possible.  Remove your sword and perform a standing bow to your sword and Shinzen from the back of the room.


A few rules you should always keep in mind and watch out:

  • Never stand directly behind another student when practicing.

  • Always be aware of your space and where your sword is to avoid collisions.

  • During kumitachi, tailor your speed and force to your partner’s ability. Maintain control of your sword at all times.

  • Never cut directly towards another person or Shinzen. Never walk in front of someone who may be cutting.

  • Never step over any sword.

  • Keeps discussions during class minimal and relevant to the practice at hand.

  • If you cannot do a particular exercise due to injury, please inform the instructor beforehand.

  • It is the responsibility of more senior students to be good role models for more junior students and the responsibility of junior students to listen to more senior ones. This is a relationship of mutual respect.

  • Lastly, enjoy practice. Iaido is hard work but should be enjoyable.

2.4 Ending Class

At the end of practice we again line up and then sit in seiza.  We first remove and bow to our swords (datto).  Bow to Sensei (shirei) saying “Domo Arigatou gozaimashita” (essentially, a formal “thank you very much”).  We then bow to our fellow students (Otagai ni Rei) again saying “Domo Arigatou gozaimashita”. Finally perform a standing bow to Shinzen (Shinzen ni rei).

Once Sensei has formally acknowledged the end of class please pack up quickly to allow the next class to enter the room. We want to show respect to other users of the space, martial arts or otherwise. The shinzen should be removed from the wall and given back to Sensei properly folded.

Last, just like before a class starts, we encourage junior club members to help collect and return the club equipment to their storage spaces.

Basic Iaido Vocabulary

3. Basic Iaido Vocabulary 



  1. Ichi  一              

  2. Ni  二                 

  3. San  三               

  4. Shi (Yon)  四       

  5. Go  五

  6. Roku  六

  7. Shichi (Nana)  七

  8. Hachi  八

  9. Kyū  九

  10. Jū  十


Soke: Headmaster of a style or school

Sensei: Instructor/teacher

Senpai: Senior student (everyone who has started Iaido before you)

Kōhai: Junior student (everyone who has started Iaido after you)

Shidachi: Completing sword - finishes partner practice (winning side)

Uchidachi: Strike sword - "attacker" in partner practice (losing side)

Yuudansha: Members with dan grades

Mudansha: Members without dan grades

Iaidoka: Someone who practices iaido


Front: mae

Left: hidari

Right: migi

Behind: ushiro


Embu: Demostration

Keiko: Practice

Taikai: An event with competition

Shinsa: Dan test

Class Communication

Domo arigato gozaimashita: Thank you very much (said at the end of class to each other)

Dozo: Please go ahead

Sumimasen: Excuse me

Hajime: Start

Yame/Owari: Stop

Hai: Yes

Mouichido/Mouikkai: Once more


Footwork (Ashi Sabaki)

Ni ho haba: Two step distance between front and back foot.

Hanmi: Front foot is straight ahead, rear foot at 45-60 degrees.

Seitai: Front and rear foot are both straight.

Ayumi ashi: “Walking foot” Walking regularly, placing one foot in front of the other.

Tsugi ashi: “Connecting foot” Moving forward with one foot always in front.

Tora bashiri: “Tiger running” Running in small steps, placing one foot in front of the other.

Sword Related

Sword Work

Battou: Drawing the sword from its scabbard

Noutou: sheathing the sword

Kesagiri: Diagonal downward cut

Katate kesagiri: one-handed diagonal cut

Morote kesagiri: two-handed diagonal cut

Gyaku kesagiri: upward diagonal cut

Nukitsuke/Yoko ichi monjihorizontal cut

Furi kaburi: raising the sword above the head

Kirioroshi: downward cutting motion straight down

Sune gakoi: block to protect the leg (shin)

Tsuki: thrust 

Chiburi: Shaking blood motion

Jo-ha-kyu: The timing for cuts; first the sword slowly comes out of saya, then it gradually comes out faster, and 'blasts' out of the saya at the moment of the cut.

Kamae (Stance)

Chudan: Left hand is one fist from the body and just below the belly button. Kissaki is at throat height. Feet are shoulder width apart, and left foot is immediately behind right foot.

Gedan: Same as Chudan, except kissaki is at knee height.

Jodan: Left hand is one fist in front of forehead, and right hand is one fist above head. The sword is at a 45 degree angle.

Wakigame: Standing in Hanmi position, sword is held to the side of the body. The blade is horizontal with kissaki pointing back so it cannot be seen from the front. Left hand is just below the belly button.

Hasso:  Left hand is at mouth height and one fist away. Right hand support the sword at a 60 degree angle with ha straight ahead.

Equipment and Objects

Dojo: Practice room
Shinzen: Altar
Katana: Sword (blade length more than 60 cm)
Bokuto: Wooden sword
Wakizashi: Shorter sword (blade length between 30 cm ~ 60 cm)
Tanto: Dagger (blade length less than 30 cm)
Iaito: Blunt alloy sword used for iaido

Keikogi/Dogi: Practice wear
Obi: Belt
Hakama: Wide pleated long pants
Tabi: Foot wear
Haori: Formal overcoat
Montsuki: Formal longer sleeved kimono with Mon (family crest)

Topics on Techniques

4. Topics on Techniques

Nukitsuke - Five Essentials 

1. To have correct posture in accordance with the school’s principles

2. To have correct metsuke (way of looking) with respect to one’s imaginary opponent

3. To apply jo-ha-kyu in practicing nukitsuke

4. To have correct hasuji (cutting line)

5. To practice nukitsuke with great spirit

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