The duelists face one another.


Preparing to draw.


Note the path of the weapons from the second picture.

Iaijutsu, "fast draw", [1] was the ancient art of personal dueling. [2]

Imperial Sanction Edit

Disputes that could not otherwise be resolved were finalized with a duel. The victor was proved correct, and the loser shamed. [3] This was sanctioned in the year 163 by the Emperor Hantei Genji, who declared the winner of a duel was chosen by the honor and spirit of samurai and the favor of the Celestial Heavens. [4]

Martial Art Edit

Iaijutsu was a martial art that trained the motions associated with drawing a katana, striking an opponent, flicking blood from the blade, and then re-sheathing the katana with one fluidly controlled movement. Devised by Kakita, iaijutsu was dominated by the philosophy that a single, perfect cut was all one needed to be victorious in combat. Iaijutsu was the standard technique for duels within Rokugan and a signature trait of trained duelists, such as the Kenshinzen. The iaijutsu techniques could also be applied to standard combat, but they were not quite as versatile as kenjutsu techniques, such as niten.

The primary emphasis was on the psychological state of being present. The secondary emphasis was on drawing the sword and attacking as quickly as possible. Starting positions could be from combative postures or from everyday sitting or standing positions. The ability to react quickly from different starting positions was considered essential for a samurai.

A very important part of iai, sometimes called the 'life of iai', was nukitsuke. This was a very quick draw accomplished by drawing the sword from of the saya (scabbard) while drawing the saya itself back (saya biki). The blade could be brought out of the scabbard and used in a slashing motion very quickly using nukitsuke.

Kenjutsu and Iaijutsu Edit

The major distinction between iaijutsu and kenjutsu was the condition of the sword at the start of combat. In iaijutsu, the sword began sheathed and the emphasis was on the initial strikes, while in kenjutsu, the sword began unsheathed, and the emphasis was on both attack and defense. Kenjutsu also often included consideration of combat against opponents wearing armor while iaijutsu generally assumed that the opponent was unarmored. Some kenjutsu schools also taught sword combat against other weapons such as naginata or yari.

See also Edit

External Links Edit


  1. Way of Shinsei, p. 36
  2. To Save What Can Be Saved, by Shawn Carman
  3. Kakita Hideo (Samurai flavor)
  4. Imperial Histories 2, p. 35

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