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Sitting seiza in kendo and iaido

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  • Sitting seiza in kendo and iaido

    I posted this topic here because I think it can be considered technique but we might need an etiquette section on this forum. So the way we sit seiza in kendo ( take a step back with left foot and lower yourself on left knee then sit seiza) and iaido ( lower yourself without taking a step backwards in a position similar to sonkyo while doing hakama sabaki, put your left knee first followed by right knee.) is different. From what I have seen people who practice both use iaido's way of sitting seiza. My main question: is there a general rule on this? the way you sit changes the distance( you don't take a step back in iaido and sit the ground you were standing on. In kendo you sit one step backwards compared to that.) and you may find yourself sitting one step in front of line while visiting other dojos or during gradings. Personally I think iaido's way is more graceful and neat. We do it that way in our dojo but I'm curious, what are your thoughts on this? And those who practice both what do you do yourselves?

  • #2
    In your own dojo(s), do as you are taught, obviously. When visiting another dojo, ask (or observe) how they do it and do it that way. And part of being ready for a grading is knowing how your are required to take seiza and thus where to place your body relative to the line prior to taking seiza.

    And I should add that for Kendo, I do it Kendo way. For Iaido, Iaido way. For Iaido grading, as is required for grading. It is not up to me to do it differently.
    Last edited by Sheets; 11th February 2016, 06:13 AM. Reason: Added details.


    • #3
      I (try) do as expected in the context.

      I was told that for iaido to go down and get up as smooth as possible, keeping the back as straight as possible and avoid bobbing up and down (this is a lot harder than it sounds hence I try to do it but I am far from the ideal).

      Contrast this to what the ZNKR started prescribing for kendo in 2012 in Japan (may or may not have disseminated to your local federation), which is to first keep the bottom of the toes in contact with the floor, then sit on the heels, then rise again, unfold the toes so that the top of the toes are contact with the floor, then finally sit back down again. Getting up is the reverse of this so there is a bobbing action both getting up in down. I started doing this initially for iaido as well but was told to stop it.

      The ZNKR also prescribes putting both hands out in front at the same time for seiza rei while iaido keeps to the older left then right and withdraw right then left. All iaido sensei are very strict about etiquette since iaido is the most strict about etiquette out of the ZNKR"s three arts. Kendo is a lot looser with various sensei having various views of ZNKR's prescriptions. I've practice with kendo sensei who told me off for the older style while I've received praise for sticking to tradition from other sensei. Meh.

      Then there is police kendo etiquette, which reflects older kendo etiquette. They don't require sitting down once with the toes up and again with the toes in final position (although you can do it if you want but everyone moves very fast so you'd have to be quick about it). They also stick to left then right hand for seiza rei. The main difference is that they position the shinai on the right instead of left. Interestingly, left then right hand seiza rei is considered unfriendly (you keep your right hand free to grab the sword) while sword on the right is considered friendly (hard to draw). So the ZNKR chooses friendly seiza-rei but unfriendly shinai position while the police chooses unfriendly rei but friendly shinai position.