Iaidō (合 道) Is a martial art of Japanese origin based on the action of drawing the sword and slicing (pruning or thrusting) in a single gesture. More exactly, the goal is to perform a technique, before the opponent, chosen according to the place and the context of the situation. As with other budō, this discipline focuses mainly on the perfection of movements and the spiritual approach (influence of Zen), technical efficiency, for its part, becomes more and more important as the practitioner increases in rank.

Most of the practice of iaidō consists of learning and performing katas (precise movement sequences), mostly performed alone and corresponding to a scenario. They start either standing (tachi iai), kneeling on the ground (seiza), or in a position with only one knee on the ground (tate hiza). These forms constitute as many teaching aids and allow the transmission of all the techniques of a school.

These katas are basically made up of the same four steps:

  • Draw and first cut: nukitsuke or nukiuchi;
  • Main cut: kiri tsuke or kiri oroshi;
  • Clean the blade: chiburi;
  • Put the blade back in the scabbard: notō.


There is also an important part specific to many kata depending on the school: furikabutte, the action of “brandishing the sword”. Many variations, cuts, thrust strikes, strikes with the hilt of the saber, are added in some kata.

These katas must be “inhabited” by the practitioner, and induce fundamental notions specific to all budō:

  • Zanshin: active vigilance, feeling, perception of the environment;
  • Seme: the threat, construction of the attitude expressing the capacity for instantaneous reaction;
  • Netsuke: the global gaze, unfocused, wide visual perception;
  • Kokoro: heart, mind, daring, honesty, sincerity (a term that is difficult to translate).