Several distinct schools of technique exist within the family of martial arts known as iaido. New York Budokai was founded on one of the older of these styles, Muso Shinden Ryu, and for several decades this style constituted our core curriculum. In recent years, our focus has shifted to a relatively newer style, Ryushin Shouchi-ryu, under the guidance of Souke Kunikazu Yahagi. In addition to Ryushin Shouchi-ryu, New York Budokai continues to offer special workshops on Muso Shinden Ryu and Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo.
Kata (型 or 形 literally: “form”) is a Japanese word describing detailed choreographed patterns of movements practised either solo or in pairs. Each one is designed to play out a different combat scenario. Kata are used in many traditional Japanese arts such as theater forms like kabuki and schools of tea ceremony (chadō), but are most commonly known for the presence in the martial arts. In iaido the basic concept is to visualize your imaginary opponents and defeat them.
Kumitachi (組太刀) are paired practice (2 person Forms). Typically these forms are performed using bokutō; however, it is also practiced at high level with habiki or shinken. Kumitachi are therefore a real plus for serious Iaido practitioner since they allow them to visualise and bridge the gap between standalone kata practice and partner interactive forms. Kumitachi allow to deepen and enrich the knowledge of concepts hard to understand while only working with kasso teki (invisible opponent): - Maai (間合い) Distance / Timing - Seme / Ki seme - Zanshin - Metsuke
This is a full contact practice where we dress in traditional Kendo armour (Men, Kote & Do protection) and use fukuro shinai (wrapped in white leather). The goal of this practice is not to just wack your opponent, its our opportunity to test the Ryushin Shouchi Ryu techniques (Kumitachi techniques) in real time.
Tameshigiri (試し斬り, 試し切り, 試斬, 試切) is the Japanese art of target test cutting. This practice was popularized in the Edo period (17th century) for testing the quality of swords and continues through the present day. This practice is always done under extremely close supervision to ensure safety. The target usually consists of rolled bamboo mats which have been soaked ahead of time. Sometimes we also use pieces of raw bamboo.