Equipment and Clothing
When starting out it is very possible that you are already doing another martial art. If so, your current Gi will suffice.
The most important part of clothing will be the Obi [belt]. You will need to use a general martial arts Obi. The main thing to remember is that it will need to be tied tight in order to ensure that it supports the Katana [sword] and Saya [scabbard]. You may also find that it is easier to move the knot around to the back to prevent it from getting in the way.
When it comes to the Katana, these can be expensive, especially when just starting out. An alternative would be to use a Bokken instead.
A Bokken is a traditional Japanese wooden sword that is often used for training as they allow for contact with each other without the worry of damaging the blade of a Katana. Bokkens can be either wooden or plastic. We recommend a wooden Bokken simply due to the weight.
If choosing to use a Bokken, we would also advise a Saya and Tsuba. The Bokken can be used without the Saya but a lot of focus of our training is on the removal and sheathing of the Katana (or Bokken) from the Saya.
The Tsuba will help with regards to hand positioning on the Bokken.
Starting at the top, the first item of clothing that is required is a white Gi top [Uwagi]. A special Iaido one is not a requirement and a general white martial arts Gi top will be fine. Please bear in mind that a Japanese cut with shorter sleeves is advised as you may find that the longer sleeves interfere with your technique.
A more traditional alternative to the Uwagi is an Iaigi. These have a cut that is preferable during Iaido training for many but this is not a requirement of training with us.
Black tops are reserved for Dan grades should they choose to wear them or not.
The next item is the Obi. A traditional Iaido Obi is a replacement to your normal martial arts belt as it is much longer and taller. This is to provide correct fitting and support of the Saya during training.
The final item of clothing on your list is a black Hakama. As with all things martial arts, the Hakama has a purpose during use as it corrects posture, stance and also assists the Obi in supporting and holding the Saya in the correct position.
Further clothing that can be used during training include a Shitagi and under-Hakama shorts. These items of clothing are basically underclothing for your uniform. A Hakama can be a pain to press due to the number of pleats. The theory is that by wearing the underclothing, you will not have to wash and then press your Iaigi and Hakama quite as often and keep them crisp as long as possible.
The only real piece of equipment that is now required is the Katana.
When choosing the Katana you will have 2 choices:
The Iaito is a blunt Katana. As it is blunt, this is the Katana of choice when training for safety purposes. Although the One of the main focus areas of Batto-Do is cutting [Tameshigiri], this will only be done further through the Kyu grades.
With this in mind, the Iaito is chosen to improve technique and to ensure that when handling the live/sharp blade, you will be doing so in a safe and controlled manner to prevent injury.
A Shinken is the name for the aforementioned live/sharp bladed Katana. These can be extremely dangerous due to the true nature of what they are; weapons.
The Katana will usually include the Saya, Tsuba and Sageo [cord].
Please find below a list of recommended equipment. All items are from NineCircles and are highly regarded in terms of quality and service.
If you have any questions when choosing your clothing and/or equipment please come along to one of the classes and we'll be happy to assist.