Budo Society Musashi
Aikido, Aiki Jujitsu, Ju Jitsu, Kyusho Jitsu, Dim Mak, Bukido
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The Iaitō is a modern metal practice sword, without a cutting edge, used primarily
for practicing iaido. Most iaitō are made of an aluminium-zinc alloy which is
cheaper and lighter than steel. This use of alloy and a blunt edge also avoids
the Japanese legal restrictions on the manufacture of swords made of ferrous
metals. As such, Japanese-made iaitō are intended as practice weapons and are not suited for any type of contact. The best alloy blades are rather faithful reproductions of real swords with authentic weight and shape along with similarly high-quality finish and fittings. Iaitō may even have a mock hamon (lit., blade pattern, the temper line of a tempered steel blade). The average weight for a real uchigatana is typically 1,200 g without the scabbard while a typical alloy iaitō is roughly 820 g. Some steel iaitō are also constructed and can weigh around 900–950 g for a 74 cm blade.
Some imitation Japanese swords are made in countries other than Japan. They may even be made of folded steel, much like a real katana, but with a blunt edge. Such weapons would face the same use and ownership restrictions in Japan as genuine swords, and would not be called iaitō in Japan.
First iaitō were made after the Second World War, to permit people without means to own a real sword, to have a tool for their practice of modern budo. Iaito are produced by specialized workshops not in direct relations with shinken swordsmiths.
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Some dōjō in Japan recommend that only alloy blades be used for practicing iaidō until the practitioner's skill is consistent enough to safely use a sharp-edged sword, (Shinken) Some iaidō schools may require a practitioner to start with a shinken right away, while other schools prohibit the use of a shinken altogether.
The matching of iaitō length, weight, and balance to the practitioner's build and strength is of utmost importance to safely and correctly perform the iaidō forms (kata). Due to the repetition involved in the practicing of iaidō, iaitō are often constructed with the balance point of the blade being set farther from the blade's point (kissaki) and closer to the guard (tsuba) than other blades