Kata Hon-Iai Sho

Now we come to Iaijutsu and the introduction of Kata Hon-Iai Sho to 4 Kyu Yonkyu.

Kata Hon-Iai Sho gives us an opportunity to practice the basics of Iaijutsu. This is a basic sword kata, with the aim of teaching the basic cut and at the same time gaining an understanding of the handling of the sword. It may seem like many, but nevertheless important details. Accelerate slowly and divide the moments at first. Try to practice each part at least 20-30 times.

The points emphasized are:

  • Nuki, drawing of the sword.
  • Kiri, the cut.
  • Chiburi, to shake off the blood from the blade.
  • Noto, resheathing the sword.
  • Zanshin, to keep one’s attention on the opponent even after defeating him.

All these steps must be coordinated and carried out quickly without any hesitation. The kata also begins with Enzan no Metsuke. Metsuke means “looking beyond the mountains” (not just seeing the opponent). Kokyu, breathing is important. Take a few slow breaths and find the rhythm before the start. Don’t be in too much of a hurry!


1. Hilding the sword in your right hand, you perform a standing bow (tachirei).

2. To ni Rei! Holster the sword against the left hip.

3. The starting position: Find calm and focus.

Starting position
Your left thumb has a grip on the tsuba.

4. Nuki: You take a right step forward, draw and cut Gyaku kesa giri, reverse diagonal cut from Your left side.

Push forward the tsuba with your thumb, bring forward the saya and angle it about 90 degrees. Don’t spin the whole saya around! The cut doesn’t come straight from below! In your move, you must cut 45 degrees diagonally upwards from left to right. Step right forward with nuki and cut Gyaku kesa giri. Pull back the saya at the same time as You draw.

Gyaku kesa giri. In the final phase, the kissaki (sword tip) is aimed at the opponent.

5. Jodan no Kamae: Step right back and raise the sword to Jodan no Kamae.

Jodan no Kamae

6. Kiri: Take right step forward and cut Shomen uchi. You will end up in Seigan no Kamae.

Shomen uchi

Slide back and pull your wrists towards you. Watch your wrists and forearms (kote), don’t stretch them out unnecessarily!

7. Chiburi (shake off the blood from the blade): Hold the tsuka gashira with your left hand, slightly relax your grip. Now you must perform the kaiten chiburi. With your right hand, you rotate the sword one turn counterclockwise and then strike with your right hand under the tsuba. Chiburi is a ceremonial part in kata! It is of course impossible to shake the blood off the blade.

Kaiten chiburi

8, Noto (bring the sword back into the scabbard): With your right hand, you now take a reverse grip in the tsuka (gyakute) and angle the back of the sword (mune) towards your left upper arm.

With your left hand, you grasp around the koiguchi (the opening of the saya, the ”carp’s mouth”). The thumb and index finger form like a padded gap. You extend your right hand forward and the back of the sword (mune) is allowed to slide along the padding. At the same time, you pull the saya backwards with your left hand. When the kissaki reaches the opening, the saya is now brought forward instead, allowing the saya and the tsuba to meet.


9. Zanshin (keeping the attention on the opponent even after defeating him): Reverse the saya with the left hand, the right hand grips around the tsuka gashira. Take the zanshin.



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