The Iaito or the Iaito Katana is considered as one of the contemporary swords utilized for modern practice. The weapon is made from metal yet it also does not have a cutting edge. These Iaito are mostly utilized for training in the art of Iaido while it can also be a great piece for adornments.
The Blunt Katana
The term Iaito means mock or imitation blades that are said to be contrasting compared to the Shinken a nihonto that features a live, forged blade and is made primarily for combat. Each Iaito features the same quality as its counterparts that have fully sharpened blades, but it also exhibits a powerful yet very blunt edge that is excellent for training and developing the sword fighting skills of a person. Compared to the Shinken, the blunt Katana Iaito were produced mainly for the Iai or Batto practice, and because of its form and structure, the Iaito Katana is not really meant for battle or sword to sword contact.
This may be a dull blade but one should remember that the Iaito are swords since those are mostly utilized for decorative purposes. Cheap replicas are not really safe for practice or training purposes since the process of producing the dull Katana is greatly different compared to those created for decorative purposes. Generally, the blunt Katana was created mainly for practicing Iaido and only quality materials are utilized to be able to produce a sword that is efficient and safe for proper training.
Once an individual has acquired a finely made Iaito Katana, they can engage in practicing the art with ease and comfort. This is the art of classic Japanese swordsmanship wherein its practice consists mostly of a collection of pre-arranged Kata that responds accordingly to a specific kind of attack executed by an opponent. The Kata is usually comprised of a few simple steps which include the following:
- The wielder draws his or her weapon
- Executing an accurate and smooth major slice
- Exhibiting a motion of cleaning the blade (like how a samurai would when removing stains of blood after attacking an enemy successfully)
- And last, the act of re-sheathing the Iaito right in its scabbard.
When practicing this art, the surroundings should be calm, quiet, and the individual engaging in this should be relaxed; this is necessary since most of the portions of this form of martial art are focused on developing a reflective and calm mind that is referred to the Zanshin. This may sound easy and simple but the practice is quite challenging, but even if this is the case, the art is still highly popular among older individuals and non-athletes. This is because the art of Iaido features slow, smooth, and fluid motions that are not as tedious or taxing to ones cardiovascular system like when a person engages in other martial arts that are more active and strenuous. Another thing to remember when practicing this art is that the individual engaging in this should have profound skills, increased concentration, as well as a calm and solemn spirit. This is because each executed should correspond adequately based on an opponents offensive movements. The practitioner should also follow all the rules of discipline that is related to the martial art since these have all been thoroughly, carefully, and adequately applied to the practice.
Development of the Iaito
A lot of the Iaito Katana are made specifically from high-quality aluminum zinc alloy that are more lightweight compared to steel that features a dull edge; the weapon is designed mainly for practice but it is not going to be effective for weapon to weapon contact. One will know if the alloy blades present are finely and thoroughly made since these replicas appear just like the classic nihonto: featuring the original size, shape, weight, as well as the quality finishes and fittings of a traditional Japanese sword. Also, the Iaito may appear with a mock hamon which acts as the temper-line of the steel blade that has undergone the process of tempering. There are other replica swords made in other countries aside from Japan, and these are sometimes produced using folded steel something that smiths from the past used to create also blunt Katana.
Training and the Iaito Katana
Not all dojos require the same training tools for their practitioners since a couple actually prefer using alloy blades for engaging the art of Iaido; they will let their students utilize these weapons until their skills in the art have developed and improved, allowing them to skillfully utilize an actual sharp-edged weapon. Moreover, there are also other Iaido schools that want their students to utilize a shinken right at the beginning of their training, whereas some dojos entirely prohibit the use of a shinken. Another thing to remember when practicing this art is that it is very crucial to match the length, weight, and balance of the weapon with the users build and strength; this will allow you to adequately perform the set of Kata that is practiced in this martial art.
Properly Caring for the Weapon
One great thing about the Iaito is that it does not necessarily need too much maintenance compared to the steel Shinken; regular oiling of the blade is also not necessary since the type of material utilized to create the blade does not rust; but of course, oiling the weapon on a regular basis can greatly help keep its strength, durability, longevity, and of course, its beauty. Even when the Iaito does not require regular maintenance, it would be best to always wipe clean the sword every after use, simply to keep the weapon clean and comfortable to use for the next practice.
When purchasing an Iaito sword for practice, the wielder should ask themselves first if the weapon will be used on a regular basis or not, and what exactly is the type of Budo that will be practiced. Aside from these, the practitioner should also always ensure that the shop they are purchasing from are legitimate and offer weapons that are made from high-quality materials.