Iaido curriculum


Below you can find the names and approximate translations of the various kata in the ZNKR Seitei and Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido syllabus. Koryu kata names come from a long history where meanings may have been different, the Chinese characters redefined or even rewritten and a certain degree of poetic license applied. To that end, it is not advised to take the translations too literally; they are names primarily and meanings secondarily. They may indicate a scenario, a methodology or simply a feeling within the kata. The Chinese characters used have multiple meanings depending on the context.

Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Iai

  1. Mae - Front

  2. Ushiro - Rear

  3. Ukenagashi - Deflection

  4. Tsukaate - Handle strike

  5. Kesagiri - Diagonal cut

  6. Morotezuki - Two-handed thrust

  7. Sanpogiri - Three-way cut

  8. Ganmenate - Face strike

  9. Soetezuki - Joined-hand thrust

  10. Shihogiri - Four-way cut

  11. Sogiri - Complete cutting

  12. Nukiuchi - Sudden draw

Iaido Mae
Nakamura Sensei Shoden Ryuto
Nakamura Sensei  Shoden Gyakuto

Muso Shinden Ryu

Shoden (Omori Ryu) - First Teaching:

  1. Shohatto - First sword

  2. Sato - Left sword

  3. Uto - Right sword

  4. Atarito - Hitting sword

  5. Inyoshintai - Positive, negative, advance, retreat

  6. Ryuto - Flowing sword

  7. Junto - Ordered sword

  8. Gyakuto - Reverse sword

  9. Seichuto - Centre force sword

  10. Koranto - Wild tiger sword

  11. Gyaku Inyoshintai - Reverse inyoshintai

  12. Batto/Nukiuchi - Sudden draw

Chuden (Hasegawa Eishin Ryu) - Middle Teaching:

  1. Yokogumo - Floating clouds

  2. Toraissoku - Tiger's foot

  3. Inazuma - Lightning

  4. Ukigumo - Moving clouds

  5. Oroshi - Wind blowing down a mountain

  6. Iwanami - Waves in the rocks

  7. Urokogaeshi - Turning fish

  8. Namigaeshi - Returning wave

  9. Takiotoshi - Waterfall

  10. Nukiuchi - Sudden draw

Andy Watson Chuden Oroshi
Morishima Sensei Chuden Ukigumo
Morishima Sensei Okuden Tozume

Okuden (Suwariwaza) - Inner Teaching (Seated):

  1. Kasumi - Mist

  2. Sunegakoi - Enclose the shin (knee)

  3. Shihogiri - Four way cutting

  4. Tozume - Blocked at the door

  5. Towaki - Side of the door

  6. Tanashita - Under the ledge

  7. Ryozume - Blocked on both sides

  8. Torabashiri - Tiger running

Okuden (Tachiwaza) - Inner Teaching (Standing):

  1. Yukizure - Accompaniment

  2. Tsuredachi/Rentatsu - Companions

  3. Somakuri - Complete retaliation

  4. Sodome - Complete stopping

  5. Shinobu - Loyal retainer

  6. Yukichigai - Misdirection

  7. Jinchu - Within a crowd

  8. Moniri - Entering a gate

  9. Kabezoi - Beside walls

  10. Ukenagashi - Deflection

  • Itomagoi - Farewell to the master (seiza):

  1. Itomagoi sono ichi - Farewell part 1

  2. Itomagoi sono ni - Farewell part 2

  3. Itomagoi sono sand - Farewell part 3

Ishido Sensei Okuden Tachiwaza Ukenagashi

An explanation of the kata names in Iaido

The following is provided to assist people in understanding the meaning of the individual kata names in Iaido. Typically the ZNKR Seitei Iai names are reasonably modern, simple and self-explanatory. The names within the koryu can sometimes be derivatives of older names and the original meanings may be lost in history and altered through the lineage.

ZNKR Seitei Iai

  1. 前 Mae: This simply means "front" or "forwards". In normal language, saying "(something ) no mae ni" means "before (something)". It is almost certain though that this kata name, derived from the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu (MJER) line, means "front" to indicate where the enemy is sat and where the exponent is drawing to. The Chinese reading of this character is "zen" and is found in terms such as "zen shin chuu" (while walking forwards) in the ZNKR manual.

  2. 後ろ Ushiro: This means "behind". Again in normal language, saying "(something) no ato de" (ato being another reading of ushiro) means "after (something). This kata name is also derived from the MJER line kata and means "behind" to indicate where the enemy is sat and therefore where the exponent must turn to face and draw to.

  3. 受け流し Ukenagashi: This is made up of two words "ukeru" meaning "to receive" and "nagasu" meaning to "make flow off". Ukeru is the same character as the name of the role Uke found in other grappling martial arts such as Aikido. Nagasu is a transitive verb, the intransitive of which is "nagaru" meaning "flow". There is an important distinction in the construction of this word in that although the word is made up of two verbs, they are not connected using the -te form thus this kata does not mean to receive in one instance and only then to make flow off but instead to receiver and make flow off in a combined, fluid movement.