IAIDO.COM recommends the Japanese Martial Arts Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where intensive courses are offered in iaido, judo, and jujutsu (jujitsu). Kendo is practiced in a weekly workshop. See the Japanese Martial Arts Center site.




IAIDO is a martial art form that began as an off-shoot of kenjutsu. It was developed as a defensive method to counter surprise attacks and enemy raids in fifteenth and sixteenth century Japan and requires at least as much serenity and concentration as an online casino game. The purpose of iaido was to slay an opponent with one stroke of the sword immediately after unsheathing it. In order to create such a defense system, situations and circumstances of surprise attacks were studied to devise a systematized way to use the sword effectively against many forms of attack.

Kendo means "the way of the sword."  Students protect themselves during practice with padded armor covering the head, upper body, and hands, and score points against each other by striking designated areas with a shinai (a practice sword of split bamboo).  Competition is fast-paced and exciting, but many hours of drilling are required before you can expect any success in sparring.  There is also a kata element to kendo, using metal practice swords, in which students study and practice forms that are very similar to iaido forms.

Kendo is the most popular type of swordsmanship in Japan.  Junior high school students there can join kendo clubs at their schools, and many continue to practice for the rest of their lives.  The art is evolved from older swordsmanship styles, sometimes called kendo but usually referred to as kenjutsu ("sword art").  These earlier forms of the art were practiced with wooden swords or real blades, but as the sport evolved and the use of the point system developed during the eighteenth century, it became too dangerous to use any solid weapon and the shinai was created.

This art is ideal for anyone who desires a good aerobic workout.  Practice develops excellent muscle tone and improves mental focus.  Muscular strength is a minor factor in winning matches, so men and women can compete equally, making kendo a good martial art for anyone.  Factors that limit the appeal of kendo are the difficulty of finding good instruction outside of Japan and the discomfort of the body armor.  Another consideration is that there are no direct self-defense applications for kendo movements, so if your primary purpose in studying martial arts is self-defense, it would be better to choose another art.

- from BUDO MIND AND BODY, by Nicklaus Suino.

BATTOJUTSU refers to some of the other Japanese arts that involve drawing the sword. One notable difference in the schools that call themselves Battojutsu rather than Iaido or Iaijutsu is that they typically place more emphasis on cutting with the sword after it is drawn. Iaido tends to focus on a quick draw that may also be used to cut the opponent, whereas Battojutsu is more likely to involve several cuts after the draw is complete. Some iaido schools frown on actual practice cutting, while Battojutsu schools often engage in cutting practice (called tameshigiri).

KENDO is another Japanese martial art based on sword fighting. Kendo practitioners wear protective armor called bogu, and attempt to score points using shinai (a type of bamboo sword). Kendoka frequently shout (kiai) to express their fighting spirit, and their front foot must contact the floor at the moment of a proper strike (fumikomi-ashi). Since there is no sparring included in the art of iaido, many iaidoka also practice kendo.