© 2009 Kim Taylor, all rights reserved
Goshingata iai is a set of five iaido kata which demonstrate many of the common cuts, thrusts and defenses found in iaido.
the kata start from seiza for both swordsman and opponents. They are
usually done standing up each time after the kata is finished, and
returning to the original spot, but they can be done as a continuous
set with no break between the kata, this is called haya nuki.
kata have four parts, the draw and cut (nuki tsuke), the finishing cut
or cuts (kiri tsuke), the blade cleaning (chiburi) and replacing the
blade in the scabbard (noto). This set uses the same chiburi and noto
for all the kata. Seiza:
From standing with
your left hand controlling the sword, drop down straight until the
heels are about to leave the floor, lean over and use the right hand to
sweep the hakama behind the left then right knee, then straighten the
back again as you drop down into the sonkyo position (on your toes,
squatting with both knees fully bent but off the floor). Place the left
and then the right knee onto the ground and flip the toes down to sit
with your shins and top of the feet on the floor.
Sit on the
knees with your buttocks lightly touching your heels, the big toes
touching but not crossed, and two fist widths between your knees. Place
the hands on top of the thighs. To find the proper position drop the
arms directly from the shoulders and bending only the elbows place the
hands, fingers lightly touching, on the tops of the thighs. Yoko Chiburi (horizontal blade cleaning):
the finishing position move the blade vigorously to the right so that
your right wrist is even with the front of your hips. The blade edge is
facing outward away from your body. At the same time your left hand has
moved directly back to the scabbard opening (koiguchi) in preparation
for noto.Yoko Noto:
Grasp the open end of the
scabbard (the koiguchi) with the last three fingers of your left hand
and make a narrow slit with your thumb and forefinger. Bring the back
of the blade to your left hand, keeping the blade horizontal and the
edge facing away from your body. Push your right hand to the front, and
pull your left hand into your belt so that the back of the blade slides
along the slit until the tip passes the web of your left hand. Tip the
koiguchi onto the blade and slide the blade into the scabbard, turning
the edge upward and ending with both hands in the middle directly in
front of your belly button.
If you have a foot forward when
starting noto you will slide that foot back at the same time as you are
putting the blade in and finish with the knees on the floor, the toes
up (not seiza). If your knees are both on the floor, return them to a
two-fist distance and keep the toes up.
After the sword is seated in the scabbard tighten it by pulling in with the left thumb.
up by stepping forward with the right foot and then bring the left foot
up beside it. Return to the original position and sit down again. Drop
the right hand directly off of the hilt when back in position to start
the next kata and before you sit down.Sword control
walking around with the sword keep the left hand on the scabbard with
the thumb on the guard to ensure the sword does not fall out. 1. Kiri Age
opponent is in front, you are both in seiza. He suddenly grabs his hilt
(tsuka) with his hands so you draw and cut/threaten his face with the
rising blade, keeping the tip aimed at his face. Return your blade in a
defensive position (uke nagashi) to above your head (furi kaburi) and
cut down the opponent from his head to his groin.
-draw to a diagonal upward cut across the opponent's face (lower left to upper right) while stepping forward with the right foot
through a guard position (uke nagashi) with the tip of the sword down
and toward the rear, and perform a vertical cut through opponent
-noto while pulling knee back to other knee
the hands from the thighs and grasp the blade with the right hand on
the hilt and the left hand in the control position on the scabbard
(saya). Release the blade by pushing forward on the guard (tsuba) with
the thumb while you tighten the legs and prepare to rise. Push the
blade out with the right hand, fingers loose on the hilt while you draw
back the scabbard. Turn the scabbard over so that the edge is downward
as you draw and rise onto your knees. As the tip reaches the koiguchi
drive the hips forward and bring the right foot forward. At the same
time cut upward through the opponent's face from his right chin to his
left forehead while pulling the saya back strongly with the left hand.
When you finish this movement the tip will remain aimed at his face and
your legs will be at 90 degree angles. You should have a straight back,
hips squarely facing the opponent and chest turned slightly to the left
because of the stong pull back of the saya.
the tip of the blade down, swing the tip back around your left shoulder
(don't drop your right hand) and grasp the tsuka with the left hand as
it comes into a centered position over your head. Cut down on the
opponent from his head to his groin as you shift your right foot then
left knee forward a small distance. Drive this movement with your hips.
The tip of the sword will finish slightly below horizontal, the tip at
the height of the bottom of the guard (tsuba). The top of the tsuba is
at the height of the top of your right knee and the left hand is one
fist width in front of your belly button.
the blade edge slightly to your right and move your right wrist
slightly forward to clear your knee, then with the feeling of tearing a
cloth in half, move your hands apart, the right wrist ending up at the
right side in line with the front of your hip bones and your left hand
ending up gripping the koiguchi. Move the koiguchi into the belt
slightly as you grip it
Bring your koiguchi out to
the middle of your body in front of your belly button as you move your
right hand to the same place to meet it. Place the back of the blade
(the mune) near the tsuba on the left hand. Pull the left hand back to
the left rear pushing the saya into the belt (obi) as you push the
right hand to the front, maintaining a 90 degree angle between the mune
and the slit formed by your left index finger and thumb. Tip the saya
onto the blade and pull the blade into the saya as you push the saya
forward, the hands again meeting in the center of the body in front of
the belly button. As you pull the blade into the scabbard you will also
slide the right foot back to beside the left, keeping the toes on the
floor. The right knee hits the floor two fists away from the left knee
as your buttocks lightly touch your heels and the wedge of the blade
(habaki) seats into the koiguchi. Lift the left thumb and seat the
blade in the saya then move the right foot forward followed by the left
to stand up.
Move back to the starting position, drop the
right hand directly off of the hilt to your right side and sit down
ready for the next kata.2. Kesa Giri
is an opponent to the front and one to the rear, both are in seiza. The
front opponent puts his hands on his tsuka so you draw upward and cut
diagonally down from his right forehead to his left chin. Turn left and
cut down vertically on the rear opponent and then return to finish the
front opponent as he rocks forward to attack again.
-draw upward to a diagonal cut across the face while stepping forward with the right foot
-turn 180 degrees leftward and cut the rear opponent vertically. left knee is up
-turn 180 degrees rightward and cut first opponent vertically. right knee is up
the front opponent starts to draw you will grasp the tsuka and release
your blade. Driving forward with the hips and right foot as you did in
Kiri Age you will cut down one handed from the opponent's right
forehead to his left chin, leaving the tip pointed at his chin. Draw
the blade as vertical as possible, just missing your left ear as you
release it from the saya and cut in the same movement. Make a strong
saya biki and keep the hips facing the opponent squarely while the
chest is open and slightly to your left. Keep the back straight.
to your left and catch the rear opponent with your gaze, then keeping
the tip facing the first opponent, turn to your left 180 degrees. Do
this by shifting the left foot inward slightly, lifting the left knee
and dropping the right knee. As you turn your right hand rises above
your head and as it comes above you place your left hand on the tsuka
and cut down without pause. Cut down onto the rear opponent from his
head to his groin, finishing with the tip down slightly and finishing
at the same time as your right knee touches the floor.
over your right shoulder and catch the first opponent with your gaze,
turn back again by dropping the left knee and raising the right knee in
a way simiar to how you turned to the rear. Keep the tip in line with
the rearward opponent as you turn, moving the hands above the head and
cutting down vertically on the front opponent, finishing with the tip
just below horizontal as your left knee touches the floor.
Chiburi and noto are performed as in number one, kiri age.3. Migi no Teki
is an opponent to the right, and one to the rear. As the opponent on
the right reaches for his tsuka you move forward with the right foot
and draw upward as you did for the second kata. This moves you away
from the rear opponent and allows you to move under your sword to cut
down vertically on the rightward opponent. Turn 180 degrees to the left
and cut down the second, rear opponent as he is trying to readjust his
distance to cut you.
-draw, step forward with right foot and cut down vertically one handed on opponent to the right
-turn left 180 degrees and cut down vertically on opponent to the original rear, left knee is up
Grasp the tsuka with your hands and draw upward as you move the hips and right foot forward.
your body under the blade and turn your chest to the right to cut down
vertically from the right opponent's head to his upper chest, the tip
finishing at the height of your solar plexus.
the tip on the opponent momentarily as you begin to turn to your left,
looking at the rear opponent as soon as possible over your left
shoulder. Turn to cut him exactly as you did in the second kata, Kesa
Giri. In this case your hips turn 180 degrees and your face an extra 90
Chiburi and noto are the same as for the first kata
except that your left knee is up so it is pulled back to the right knee
as you put the sword in the saya.
Stand up and turn around to the original position before sitting down for the next kata.4. Hidari no Teki
are two opponents, one on each side and both sitting in seiza. The
opponent to the left is facing you and the one on the right is facing
the same direction as you are. As the opponent on the left begins to
draw upward toward you, you draw the blade and thrust across your body
into his stomach while spreading your knees for stability. Turn to the
right by lifting your right knee and cut down the rightward opponent
from head to groin as he turns to attack
-draw, stab the opponent to the left, up on toes and spread knees.
-pull out and turn to right, lifting right knee to cut vertically on opponent to right
the hands to the tsuka and draw the blade directly to the right with
the right hand while moving the saya into the belt with the left,
turning the edge outward. Release the blade from the scabbard and place
the back of the blade near the tip on your stomach. Keeping the left
hand well back in the belt, thrust directly across your stomach into
the opponent. When the tip is clear of your left arm, close the left
armpit strongly, moving the left hand to the centre of your body. Keep
both arms close to the body during this move. At the end of the thrust
your right fist is close to the left elbow and the tsuba is just
outside of it. The hilt is below your right hand and both armpits are
While you thrust you will come up onto your
toes and split your knees for stability. Depending on where your
opponent is you can move both knees, the left only or the right only to
adjust the distance.
After stabbing into the
opponent on the left, turn your head to the right to catch the second
opponent with your gaze. Turning on the left knee and the right foot,
lifting the right knee, you will release the blade from the first
opponent. Lift it overhead and grasp the tsuka with the left hand as
your hips square up to the opponent on the right. Cut down vertically
without pause from his head to his groin, finishing with the blade
slightly below vertical.
The chiburi and noto are the same as
for the first kata. Stand and turn right to sit once more at the
original place in preparation for the next kata. 5. Otoshi Uchi
is an opponent on the right hand side. As he starts to put his hands on
his tsuka you turn to the right and draw, cutting horizontally at him.
He avoids this by drawing upward and back, then drives forward to cut
down vertically. You move back out of range and then cut down
vertically after he misses.
-draw turn right, cut horizontally to opponent on the right while lifting right knee
-pull right foot back and drop knee beside left knee, furi kaburi and cut while splitting knees
your left knee to your right knee as you begin to draw to the right.
Turn on the left knee as you move the right foot toward the opponent on
the right hand side. Turn the edge of the blade outward as you draw
toward the opponent and cut horizontally across his chest.
the tip of the blade at the same height as you drive your right wrist
back toward your left and lift it through a defensive position (uke
nagashi) over your head. At the same time pull your right foot back to
your left to move your body away from the opponent. With the right hand
well over your head grasp the tsuka with your left hand and cut
downward as you split your knees to drop your weight into the cut.
and noto are the same except that you draw your knees together rather
than pull a foot back while putting the blade into the saya.
Stand and return to the original position.