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.
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
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.