Showing Respect

Iaido Etiquette

Iaido is a contemporary Japanese martial art practiced with two swords. The etiquette of this art is guided by the following principles: to prevent injury to the iaidoka (the one using the sword), to prevent damage to the sword, and to prevent injury to fellow practitioners or bystanders in the room.

Practitioners are expected to be dressed in traditional Japanese pleated pants called hakama, belt or sash, called obi, and a training uniform (keikogi). The uniform should cover as much of the neck as possible. Self control in language and action is expected from the practitioners. Losing one’s temper is absolutely forbidden and results in immediate expulsion

The organization is hierarchical. The greatest respect is paid to seniors and teachers, who are obliged to instruct students in all aspects of the martial art, including dress, conduct and techniques.

The etiquette of this Japanese martial art can be illustrated by the sequence of bows performed before and after training. At the beginning of each practice, the first bow is made in the direction of the Shinto or spirit alter (kamidata), the upper seat, which is a position of honor or respect (kamiza), and the Spiritual center (shinzen).

Traditionally, many Japanese martial arts have been guided by Buddhism, Shinto and ancestor worship. Since Iaido is a conservative art, it still honors these practices, even outside Japan. However, the degree of religious connotation of bowing to the Spiritual center varies. At the very least, the opening bow signifies respect for the practice, the practice space and an acknowledgment of teachers. After that, students and teacher bow to each other to show their mutual respect. Finally, practitioners bow to their swords, before the beginning of practice. After the practice is over, the bowing ritual is performed in reverse: sword, teacher/student and shinzen.

Before and after practice, students bow to each other. This bow is an expression of mutual respect, but also shows that the students are prepared for partner practice, and are not taken unawares.

If you are in New York, NY, and are interested in practicing this Japanese martial art, there is no better place for you to do this than Iaido Jiu Jitsu Kendo Club.