Unlike Kendo, Iaido is primarily a solo martial art. Iaido is not practiced as a "sport style" or combative competition against an opponent, it is practiced as a discipline and method to self improvement and perfection of form and technique. Iaido specifically is a discipline of form which utilizes the Japanese sword in a series of forms, or Kata. Each kata encompases the envisioning of an aggressor, drawing the sword, avoidance of an attack by blocking or the use of a stop attack, a counter attack, clearing the sword and re sheathing the sword.
As an Iaido Association that draws the majority of its membership from kendo practitioners, our primary style is Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Iaido kata, also known as Seitei Iaido, which can be understood to mean 'standardized' Iaido. Seitei Iaido currently has 12 forms, or kata. The first four forms begin from a sitting position. The remaining eight from standing positions.
History of Seitei Iaido kata
After the re-establishment of Kendo in post war Japan, the All Japan Kendo Federation (Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei) was established in 1953 as an umbrella organization to unify kendo and Iaido under one governing body.
Shortly thereafter, the ZNKR realized, that with so many classical Iaido systems, there was no way to test or assign standardized ranks to Iaido practitioners of such varying ryuha. To solve this issue, twelve Iaido Instructors, who were considered to be the top masters of the time, met at the Tokyo Budokan to begin discussions for a solution. This solution was presented in 1969 as a standardized set of seven kata, or forms.
In 1977 three kata were added to the original seven kata and later two more kata were added making the total numbers of of Seitei Iaido kata to be 12 currently.