What is it?

What is Iaido?

Iaido is the art of drawing a sword, using it, and putting it away again. There are hundreds of schools of iaido in Japan. At Eimeikan, we study Muso Shinden-ryu, a school established in 1932 by the famed swordsman Nakayama Hakudo. Muso Shinden-ryu is one of the most commonly practised styles of iaido around the world, and there are many high-grade teachers in the United Kingdom.

Since you are training with a real sword (advanced iaidoka use a sword with a live blade), practice is kata-based and kata must be performed solo. It may sound easy (you always win!), but as in jodo, the ultimate aim is to perform the kata as if it were a real fight. This is extremely difficult to master, and the study of iaido is as much a mental training as it is a physical one.

We never engage in free fighting with the sword, for obvious reasons, but we may switch to wooden swords in order to test the effectiveness of techniques. We may also practise kendo kata to provide pair work. However, ultimately you will be back on your own to take on the invisible opponent (kaso teki) of the kata. In this respect, iaido and jodo complement one another very well. We can take the combative feeling and timing learned in jodo training and add it to our iaido kata. Meanwhile, we cultivate a calmness of spirit in iaido that we can then take back into our jodo.

While we are learning to use a lethal weapon, the aim of iaido training is to cultivate the feeling of the sword of life, in which the intention is never to have to draw the sword in the first place. Iaido develops balance and coordination, and it also improves your powers of awareness, concentration and focus. It takes years of practice to develop the smooth, efficient, simple movements of truly effective iaido, and we never stop learning and improving.

What about the swords themselves?

Beginners start training with a wooden sword (bokuto).

Regular students can quickly move on to an iaito. This is a steel or alloy training sword that is a very close replica of a real Japanese sword in weight and balance. Built to high standards, iaito can be used for years. Advanced practitioners of iaido may use a shinken. This is a sword with a razor-sharp live blade, and it takes some years of experience before you will be ready to use one safely.

Seek advice from your coaches when buying a sword in order to avoid wasting money. You will not be allowed to use any sword until it has been inspected by one of the qualified BKA coaches within the club, and been passed as suitable for use. Swords are very individual items of equipment. Weight, balance and the length of the blade vary, and it is important you have the right sword for training to avoid injury or accidents.

The British contingent at the 2018 Ishido Cup, held in Vianen, the Netherlands. The four medallists at the front, Ishido Shizufumi sensei and Jock Hopson sensei behind them.

Eimeikan & Iaido

Students begin by learning a set of twelve kata (set forms) known as seitei iaido, or Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei iaido. These kata were originally created in the 1960s by the All Japan Kendo Federation to provide a standard set of kata to be used in competition and grading. They are based on kata found in several different koryu schools.

Students and teachers return to seitei iaido throughout their training, but advanced students also learn the koryu kata of Muso Shinden-ryu. The syllabus contains more than fifty kata, plus numerous variations. Muso Shinden-ryu is the most commonly taught school of iaido in the UK, and many high-grade teachers attend seminars.

Our lineage is as follows:


  • Ishido Shizufumi Sensei:
    8th Dan Hanshi

    8th Dan Hanshi iaido, 8th Dan Kyoshi jodo and 7th Dan Kyoshi kendo. Ishido Sensei also holds Menkyo in Shindo Muso-ryu Jodo

  • Jock Hopson Sensei:
    7th Dan Kyoshi

    7th Dan Kyoshi iaido, 7th Dan Kyoshi jodo and 7th Dan Kyoshi kendo

  • Rob Colson:
    5th Dan

    5th Dan iaido, 5th Dan jodo

  • Ally Mihaylova:
    3rd Dan

    3rd Dan iaido, 3rd Dan jodo

What is the training like?

Read more about Iaido training in the BKA Iaido Brochure


A guided introduction to Iaido & Jodo. Beginners will be loaned equipment for the first couple of months of training.

Adults only

Sorry, but at this time Eimeikan is only accepting adult students over 18 years. We may revise this rule in the future.


As students progress they may pass initial gradings in the club, for which there is no charge. Gradings for Ikkyu and any dan grades are overseen by the British Kendo Association and there is a charge for this.

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Wyvil Primary School
South Lambeth Road

Tuesdays 7pm - 9pm

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