Zen Ken Ren Iai

Zen Ken Ren Iai represents the first set of kata that are instructed to a new students of iaido. These katas were developed by the All-Japan Kendo Federation in 1968 as a method of introducing students of kendo to iaido. The techniques used in these katas come from various schools of iaido, the originating three were Muso Shinden Ryu, Muso Jikiden Eishen Ryu and Hoki Ryu. Since these katas were designed to instruct students on the vairous techniques used in the other katas of iai, the forms are done from several starting positions. The first three katas are performed from the seiza position, the fourth kata is performed from tate-hiza, and the remaining katas are performed from the standing position.

  1. Mae
    This kata is performed from the seiza position and is against a single opponent in front of you.
  2. Ushiro
    This kata is performed from the seiza position and is against a single opponent behind you.
  3. Uke Nagashi
    This kata is performed from the seiza position. This kata teachs you to parry, deflect, and then strike an opponent to the left.
  4. Tsuka Ate
    This is the only kata in Zen Ken Ren Iai that is performed from the tate-hiza position. This kata is used to attack opponents to the front and the rear.
  5. Kesa Giri
    This is the first of the standing katas and is a diagonal cut against an opponent to the front.
  6. Morote Tsuki
    This kata is performed from a standing position and is a strike against opponents to the front and rear. The first strike is a thrust into a front opponent.
  7. Sanpo Giri
    This is a standing kata against three opponents. The opponents are to the sides and the front, the first strike is against the opponent to the right, the second against the opponent to the left, and the kata ends with an opponent to the front.
  8. Ganmen Ate
    Another standing kata against two opponents, one to the front and one to the rear. This kata starts with a strike to the forehead of the first opponent with the kashira.
  9. Soete Tsuki
    This standing kata is used against an opponent to the left that attaks you while you are walking.
  10. Shiho Giri
    This standing kata is used against four opponents that are setup like a box. The first strike is against the opponent 45 degrees to the right, followed by strikes against the other opponents.
  11. Sogiri
    This kata is made up of five cuts to single opponent to the front. This kata is performed while standing.
  12. Nuki Uchi
    This kata is used to avoid an attack from an opponent to the front and then perform a downward cut.

Omori Ryu

Omori Ryu is the first set of kata that is specific to Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu. Aside from Zen Ken Ren Iai, Omori Ryu is the most recent set of katas to be added to this school. Ten of the eleven katas are performed from seiza. The tenth kata in this style is the only one performed while standing.

  1. Mae
    This kata is performed against a single opponent who is seated roughly a meter in front of you. You perform a horizontal cut across the chest followed by a vertical cut from head to groin.
  2. Migi
    This kata is performed against a single opponent seated to your left. You perform a horizontal cut across the chest followed by a vertical cut from head to groin.
  3. Hidari
    This kata is performed against a single opponent who is seated to your right. You perform a horizontal cut across the chest followed by a vertical cut from head to groin.
  4. Ushiro
    This kata is performed against a single opponent behind you. You perform a horizontal cut across the chest followed by a vertical cut from head to groin.
  5. Yae Gake
    This kata starts similar to Mae with your opponent seated a meter or so in front of you. The initial steps of the kata follow Mae; however, they include a block followed by an additional attack.
  6. Uke Nagashi
    This kata teachs you to deflect a blow and then strike the opponent approaching form the left.
  7. Kaeshaku
    This kata was specifically designed to assist some one performing seppuku. It is a very formal and honorific kata and should not be performed in public demonstrations.
  8. Tsuke Komi
    This kata is used to deflect an attack and strike at an opponent approaching from the front.
  9. Tuski Kage
    This kata is performed against an opponent approaching from the right side. It involves a cut to the wrist then a cut from the head to the groin.
  10. Oi Kaze
    This kata is against an opponent who is moving backwards attempting to gain enough clearance to draw his sword. You continue to apply pressure on the opponent by moving foward while performing your attacks.
  11. Nuki Uchi
    This kata is against an opponent that is sitting. You draw to straight up to avoid an attack and strike with a downward cut, splitting your knees for power.

Terms and Phrases

One of the aspects of the katas that many students have issues with is learning the Japanese counting system associated with them. This section will give you romaji versions of the words and a rough English definition, but the pronunciation is left up to you.

First we will cover basic numbers in Japanese, so you will have a basic understanding of their construction. The following list shows the Japanese romaji spelling and the number it represents:

  • Ichi - 1
  • Ni - 2
  • San - 3
  • Shi - 4
  • Go - 5
  • Roku - 6
  • Shichi - 7
  • Hachi - 8
  • Kyu - 9
  • Ju - 10

Most other numbers are constructed from these values, for example 12 is "ju ni" and 52 is "go ju ni". But basic numbers will only get you so far. Like English, Japanese has a method of counting things. Here is the list of Japanese terms and a rough English translation for counting things in order.

  • Ippon me - First
  • Nihon me - Second
  • Sanbon me - Third
  • Yonhon me - Fourth
  • Gohon me - Fifth
  • Roppon me - Sixth
  • Nanahon me - Seventh
  • Hachihon me - Eighth
  • Kyuhon me - Ninth
  • Juhon me - Tenth
  • Juippon me - Eleventh
  • Junihon me - Twelfth

These terms are then placed before the name of the kata when you are calling for a particular kata to be performed. Now on to some other terms that you will hear around the dojo.

Terms:

  • Bokuto - A wooden practice sword
  • Dojo - training hall
  • Iaito - A metal practice sword
  • Kata - the forms that much up a style
  • Ki - spirit
  • Shitachi - receiver, used in two man katas
  • Uchidachi - attacker, used in two man katas
  • Waza - technique
  • Zanshin - sustained awareness, sword presence

Phrases:

  • Domo arigato gozaimasu - Thank you very much (very formal)
  • Hai - yes
  • Hajime - begin
  • Onegai shimasu - please (formal)
  • Rei - bow
  • Seiza - sit
  • Sensei ni rei - bow to the sensei
  • Shomen - front of the dojo
  • Shomen ni rei - bow to the front of the dojo
  • Yame - stop
  • Yoi - ready