Photo Friday: Iaijutsu

This week I thought I’d show you something interesting from an iaijutsu kata.


Cassie demonstrates part of standing sword kata #1 at graduation

Iaijutsu is a sword art, specifically the art of drawing the sword. In simplest terms, it’s the samurai version of the quickdraw: draw the sword and eliminate the opponent swiftly, then return the sword to the scabbard. Four of the kata I’m familiar with so far include the movement pictured above.

Here, the fallen opponent is on the ground at the performer’s feet, having just been cut horizontally and then split in two vertically. Turning the sword over helps remove the blade from the opponent’s body, keeps the sword between the fallen opponent and the performer (should he still be alive), and allows blood to run down the blade and drip off the tip as the performer steps back (the next movement following the photo above).

The interesting part, though, is the hand cover: this is supposed to prevent the opponent’s spirit from traveling up the blade and into the performer.

I believe it comes from the Shinto beliefs of early samurai. I always thought it was a neat movement, both as a martial artist and as a writer and fan of horror and the supernatural. It’s idea fuel, too; there’s a project I’m cooking up which will draw upon a number of the things I’ve learned about samurai and Japanese sword styles.

May as well put all this new knowledge to use, right?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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