SMAA Shares the Benefits and Philosophy of Paired Kata in Iaido

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Michimich -- How much do you know about iaido?

Have you ever heard of a paired kata?

While modern iaido consists principally of solo practice, there are a number of paired kata in Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu iaido (founded in the late Muromachi period, circa 1590).

The teaching and practice of paired kata is meant to communicate, among other things, how swordsmen interact in contest. Moreover, prescribed paired kata provides the context to highlight and practice some combative principles in isolation and makes them accessible to a wider audience. This complements a student's education in solo practice, where one focuses on more intrapersonal aspects.

Musashi's Three Initiatives and Munenori's Three Rhythms describe the relationship of intention, decision-making, and action between two swordsmen in contest. Musashi's Three Initiatives are the Initiative of Attack, the Initiative of Waiting, and the Body-Body Initiative. Musashi writes, "The Initiative of Attack is when I attack my opponent. The Initiative of Waiting is when my opponent attacks me. The Body-Body Initiative is when both my opponent and I attack at the same time."

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Both the Initiative of Attack and the Initiative of Waiting describe ideal situations in which one's mind is sufficiently nimble to lead the evolving situation. The Body-Body Initiative describes the gray area where neither combatant has obtained the Initiative of Attack or Waiting.

Considering the Three Initiatives, and examining Tachi Uchi no Kurai in their light, can sharpen small but important features of the kata. This can add more dynamic character to its performance. Moreover, and most importantly, this study adds interesting layers to the practice of Tachi Uchi no Kurai, and practice in general, that are fascinating and enjoyable to explore.

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SMAA offers five divisions of authentic Japanese martial arts: aikido, iaido, judo, jujutsu, and karate-do. If you want to part of a prestigious international martial arts association, give us a call at (734) 720-0330 or submit a contact form here:

About Shudokan Martial Arts Association: SMAA was founded in January 1994 by a group of martial artists concerned with promoting and safeguarding Nihon budo and koryu bujutsu—the traditional martial arts and ways of Japan. SMAA is a non-profit that aims keep the spirit of traditional budo alive in the West. Anyone can become a member, even if you aren't a martial artist, and SMAA members are from multiple countries across the globe. For more information, visit

Shudokan Martial Arts Association

Source: Shudokan Martial Arts Association

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