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The arts of the sword as we know them today probably began with Iizasa Choisai the founder of the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu. One part of this school's curriculum was the fast draw and instant use of the sword, either in self-defence or as a pre-emptive strike. This section of their study is called Iai Jutsu. This led to the development of an art called Muso Shinden Jushin Ryu Batto Jutsu. The significant factor common to both of these schools, as with many other sword schools which concerned themselves predominantly with the drawing of the sword, was that the art was practised purely as kata.

Training at Rochester
At Rochester we study Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido and Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Seitei no Gata. The ZNKR Seitei no Gata, normally referred to as Seitei Iai, is an 'international standard' used in competition and grading regardless of the iaido school a student (iaidoka) might come from. In Seitei Iai there are currently twelve kata or forms, four from a seated or kneeling position and eight from a standing or walking starting position. The traditional style (koryu) of Iaido practiced, Muso Shinden Ryu, is in three levels:

New students generally are acquainted initially with the twelve Seitei forms before moving onto learn the koryu forms. As well as the two training sessions held each week at Rochester, there are all day sessions held every other month at the Shin Bu Kan dojo at Brighton under the instruction of Vic Cook sensei which students are encouraged to attend.

Students start training with a wooden training sword called a bokken. The dojo can provide bokken for initial training and loose clothing is suitable to start with. Later the student can obtain a unsharpened metal training sword or iaito.

Please note that the decorative swords found in a number of High Street shops in the UK are seldom, if ever, suitable for practicing iaido. Furthermore, since 2008, in the UK, it is illegal for a retailer to sell a 'Japanese sword' to someone, or for someone to import a sword, unless the purchaser: a) holds a martial arts licence, or b) are a sword collector (for traditionally made Japanese weapons), or c) the sword has been made by the traditional methods (forging and folding the blade). The law is quite complex but BKA licensing permits practitioners of iaido to legally acquire iaito and shinken for training purposes.