Pimp my sword

Well as most of you probably know I quite enjoy a bit of iaido every Wednesday evening. And since its the new year I thought I’d take advantage of all those new year resolutions people have made to get fit, healthy, etc by making a membership drive for new people who fancy trying something new.

The group is affiliated with the Eikoku Roshukai (main website down for repairs. Its the English branch of Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū) and is lead by 3-4 Dan grade instructors. It has a regular membership of 4 students, with another 3-4 who periodically show up.

The meetings are Wednesday 7:30 start (so arrive 7:10-7:15) at Lancaster Central High School (map).

Training primarily revolves around kata (fixed sequences of movement) and waza (sequences of movement designed to replicate an engagement between you and a visualised opponent). Most of your effort will be spent trying to essentially train yourself. Others will show you how things are done, tell you how to do them and try and work out what you’re doing wrong but its a satisfying experience as you manage to train yourself, working out kinks in your actions, sorting posture, improving focus, visualisation, making things smooth and eventually fast.

The initial training forms are built into sections able to be recombined appropriately, cutting here, turning there, etc. After the initial forms there are several more sets built around actually used techniques and scenarios that happened.

Theres also some kumitachi, the first set of forms being known as: tachi uchi no kurai (TUNK), which is pair work with bokkens in which you move through a series of motions, keeping pressure on your opponent as required, starting slow and building up to greater and greater speed and power as you build trust in your partner.

See my previous entries for more about what its about for me.

You’ll need to be able to set aside your Wednesday evening from 7-9, and you’ll need to do that every week. Any other time you have free for training will pay off. After a few years you may need to give up the occasional Sunday to go to seminars being run around the country, and eventually you may want to give up a second evening a week for training as well if your mad keen.

Initially you don’t really need much gear. A comfortable tshirt that doesn’t restrict your arms at all, and a pair of unrestricting shorts were all I trained in for a good while.

Early on you’ll need a bokken, an obi and some knee pads, after 6 months or so you’ll want some hakama and a gi, and after a year or so you’ll probably want an iaito (a blunt metal sword).

Health & Safety?
Its fairly safe to be honest, you’ll get taught a few warm up exercises. Insurance is covered by the Roshukai. The most dangerous thing is the TUNK, which gives you a chance to get clouted by a wooden sword moving at speed eventually.

The most serious injury I’ve managed is pulling my lower back.

You’ll need to be vaguely fit, but not scarily so, over time your fitness will improve. One thing you will need is knees that work, a lot of the time you’ll be spending going from formal seiza sitting position to kneeling, and moving on your knees. If you have knackered knee joints you probably want to consult your doctor before you start.

Its £25 a year to the Roshukai for membership and insurance. £3 a week to the club (and a one off joining fee of a tenner I think, I forget). Mostly your first week is free :)

The equipment is not overly costly.
Bokken: £25 quid for a grooved one (gives you a nice whistle, some people don’t like them) including a saya (scabbard). Or you can buy a plain one for about £9 and a golf tube to act as saya.
Knee pads: £10
Obi: £15
Hakama: £25-50
Gi: £25-30
Iaito: £150-500
Shinkin (sharp sword): £200 upwards (needed for Dan grade tamagashiri).

If your interested let me know by mail or comment so I can give warning about how many people might fancy showing up.

19 thoughts on “Pimp my sword

    1. mostlyfoo

      It would probably help, but its not essential :) Mostly you need to learn to sit in a couple of uncomfortable positions with a straight back, at first it’ll just be seiza.

  1. mr_jez

    Thanks for the info Paul.

    My current projected plans will pretty much fill my schedule and take all my enthusiasm, but this does sound like about the best option for martial arts exercise in the area, so I may well talk to you about it sometime in the future.

    Now if only a member of the Company of Masters was teaching the English fighting arts in this neck of the woods! … ;o)

      1. mr_jez


        Yeah, they aren’t what they were.

        England, and the rest of Europe, had a variety of martial arts schools. They were similar to the ones which sprang up in East and South Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries (and which have exported themselves in our direction!), but they were largely from the 16th and 17th centuries, and long forgotten by most folk.

        1. mostlyfoo

          There are a number of people working on recreating the traditional European fencing arts from old instruction documents and accounts, really quite interesting stuff.

  2. brightroar

    Steve and I were actually looking in to doing something vaguely like this at one point a while back, we both have rather patchy education in martial arts (Steve did… Judo or Tae Kwon Do I think, I did Aikido) and really enjoyed it at the time. I did end up looking for Iaido when I was searching, but for some reason the nearest one I found was in Preston.

    Will poke Steve about it next time I see him, the main problem is I’m currently meant to be roleplaying on Wednesday evenings, and Steve’s in his last year and being made to use most of his free time for work (and when he’s done we were planning to move far, far away, so we’d only get about six months worth in, if that).

    Colour me interested, if nothing else.

    1. mostlyfoo

      The Preston lot have a much better web presence, the only reason I found out about the Lancs lot in the first place is they got a mention on the Preston site.

      Might be best to look for some wherever you move to if you fancy it

  3. brightroar

    I paul its steve im really interested, but would love to chat to you in person about it abit more if you free at some point for lunch maybe friday on campus or tuesday before or just after the lurps meeting or at the party of saturday.


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