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Seitei-Iai, ZNKR Iaido Kata

We learn Seitei-Kata as basic forms (Kihon) inspired by the rules of the ZNKR. The following description of the kata includes some questions for critical checking of your forms. This sub­serves for own practice and for iaido dan examination. Attention: although the movements of the following katas seems to be easy please practise iaido kata under guidance of an experienced Iaido-trainer only and at your own risk (don’t try this at home)!

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The 12 basic forms are called Seitei-Iai (Standard-Iai). They were created by the the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (ZNKR = All Japan Kendo Federation or IKF). They are training forms, which include all important sword technics. Seitei-Iai forms will provide the basic education (Kihon).

The first seven forms were released by iai masters of different styles in 1968. In 1980 three katas were added and in 2000 completed by two more kata. ZNKR-Iaido is worldwide basis and basic education. So competition and examination are independent from the styles of different sword arts.

The movements are described in detail by the ZNKR. They will be slightly changed from time to time.

01_Ipponme, Mae

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(Mae: in front). In the first kata, the swordsman is sitting in a formal kneeling/sitting posture called seiza. Sensing danger from an opposing individual seated in front of him, the swordsman acts with a horizontal strike to the head (through Komekami, the cheek bone, also the eyeline) of his attacker; then, after moving sliding on the knees forward, followed by a lethal overhead cut.

→ Kata-Check

 
Is there sufficient sayabiki (pull back of the scabbard) during nukitsuke (first drawing)?
 
Is the sword lifted up (furikaburi) with the feeling of a thrust back?
 
Does the kissaki (sword tip) not drop down below horizontal when swung up above the head (furikaburi)?
 
Is the downward cut (Kirioroshi) made without any pause after the nukitsuke?
 
Does the kirioroshi cut finish with the Kissaki slightly below horizontal?
 
Is Chiburi (cleaning of sword) naturally performed?
 
Is Noto (insertion of sword) controlled and accurately performed?

 

02_Nihonme, Ushiro

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(Ushiro: rear). In the second kata, the swordsman is seated in the formal seiza position. He senses an attack from an opposing individual from behind. The swordsman acts by simultaneously drawing his sword and rotating 180°, the swordsman acts with a horizontal strike to the head of his attacker; then, after moving forward, followed by a lethal overhead cut.

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Is a clear looking to the enemy?
 
When turning, will the right foot be placed sufficient, that the alignment is in the direction of the nukitsuke (draw of sword) and enemy?
 
When turning, will the right foot be placed firmly?
 
When turning, does the left foot move firmly forward as it goes slightly to the left?
 
Does the draw cut correctly toward the opponent’s temple?
 
In turning around the body is upright.

 

03_Sanbonme, Ukenagashi

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(Ukenagashi: deflection). In the third kata, the swordsman, while rising to his feet, blocks an enemy's attack in Sen no Sen manner to the head from above, thus having the enemy’s blade slide harmlessly to one side. Meanwhile, he turns to the side out of the attackers line (Enbusen) to avoid the strike and get a good position (Seichusen) to counter­attack, too (concept of Enbusen/Seichusen.) The swords­man quickly responds with an overhead diagonal cut, to finish his attacker. Before Noto the Mono-uchi part of the blade (last third) rests on the left knee for Chinugui.

→ Kata-Check

 
Is the uke nagashi sword positioned to protect the upper body, shoulder and head?
 
Is the right foot heel lowered or slightly increased only?
 
The setting of the feet matches the sword moves.
 
Does the left fist stop in front of the navel with the kissaki slightly lower at the completion of the cut?
 
Runs the cut on draw back of the left foot diagonal through Kesa (waist) of the enemy?

04_Yonhonme, Tsukaate

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(Tsukaate: strike with the handle of the sword). In the fourth kata, the swords­man is seated in a posture which allows his right knee to be raised off the ground. This seated posture, called take-hiza, was common for swordsmen who wore full armor, to facilitate standing. The swordsman in this situation is confronted with two attackers, one in front and one in back. Using the butt-end of his sword’s hilt (Tsuka Kashira), the swordsman delivers a temporarily disabling strike to the solar plexus of the attacker in front. He quickly rotates 90° to dispose of his rear attacker with a horizontal thrust of his sword (tsuki), followed by a frontal pivot, to deliver the mortal overhead strike to his original stunned opponent in front.

→ Kata-Check

 
Does the kashira hit the enemy’s solar plexus squarely?
 
When attacking the rear enemy, does the left hand grip the Koiguchi (mouthpiece of the Saya) and move to the navel?
 
Is the downward cut of the front enemy after sword arising and turn accurate to the middle?

05_Gohonme, Kesagiri

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(Kesagiri: cut through kesa). In the fifth kata, the swordsman is standing in a posture called tachi-iai The swordsman is confronted with an emey whose sword is already drawn overhead and is about to deliver a forward downward cut. In that instant, the defending swordsman gains the initiative with a diagonal rising cut from his attacker’s right armpit to left shoulder (the line of the kesa, or mont’s robe). The defender immediately reverses his blade to deliver a second, diagonally downward cut from his opponent’s left shoulder to right hip. Then he step backwards with a Hasso Kamae (posture the sword on the right side close to the face), followed by a chiburi.

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After finishing the reverse kesa upward cut, and rotating the sword for the return downward cut, is the right fist above the right shoulder?
 
As the left foot is pulled back, does the left hand grasp the Koiguchi, at the same time as the Kesa (diagonal) chiburi is done?

06_Ropponme, Morotetsuki

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(Morotetsuki: doublehandle thrust). In the sixth kata, the swordsman is defending against two or three enemies, one or two of whom are located in front of the defending swordsman with the other behind him. The swordsman initially delivers a diagonal cut to the right head of the frontal enemy (check Enbusen/Seichusen), immediately converting that action into a two-handed stabbing thrust to the mid-section of the foe. Rotating 180°, the swordsman disposes of his rear attacker with an overhead cut. He quickly returns to this original frontal position to ad­minis­ter a fatal overhead cut to his original wounded foe or possibly a third (hidden) attacker.

→ Kata-Check

 
Does the sudden downward diagonal head cut finish at the ememy’s jaw?
 
Is the transition to the thrust into the center of the enemy fitting with footwork?
 
Arise the Iaidoka his sword in turning around to the frontal enemy in a fluent motion above his head?
 
Is there a fluent motion from cut to cut?

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