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Sutemi in iaido

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  • Sutemi in iaido

    Hello fellow iaidoka,

    I'm a practitioner of kendo and iaido.
    I'm find myself often wondering/thinking about the concepts between the two.
    There is a great deal of overlap and even when there is no direct relationship, I often find that the principals/mechanics are still applicable on both.

    I would like to hear/read the thoughts of people on this forum on regard of sutemi.
    In kendo the need for sutemi is explicitly noticeable. If strike without it my attack is easily countered and even if not countered it will most likely lack zanshin.

    For iai where I think sutemi is still intended this is less officiously.
    My latest reflection on this is that sutemi in iai is expressed/trained by emphasizing the fluid performance of the kata. Where the fluidity of the kata for one thing also symbolizes the action with out hesitation.

    I'm curious to the insights of you all on this topic.

    Kind regards,


  • #2
    IMHO, it depends on which iai waza we're talking about and relates to the three sen:


    ZNKR seitei waza are go-no-sen. As such sutemi is somewhat different than in the other two sen, which kendo tends to focus more on (because basically kendo is one of the most efficient methodologies for training in those concepts from among the various Japanese Sword Arts). I'll leave it to you to work out how sutemi is different, partly because I can't say I have an authoritative answer on this but basically the sutemi is focused differently when you are reacting to an opponent rather than taking the initiative.

    Many okuden waza in SMR/MJER however, tend to have an ansatsu (assassination) logic and I haven't worked out what sen applies when we're talking about sneaking up on your victim... I mean kassoteki. Definitely lots of sutemi though.

    Just my 2yen.


    • #3
      Thank you for your reply Dillon.

      Does the ZNKR seitei not state , that you start your kata while detecting a harmfull intent from the opponent and forstal him (with nukitstke)?
      So is that not also more Sen-no-sen or even Sen-sens no-sen?

      As to the sutemi being different (in kendo) while doing oji waza or shikake waza i must admit it feels different for me in kendo, but I'm also told that your mindset should be shikake even when doing oji waza (something i need much practice in still).

      I also think there is no direct relation between the three sens and sutemi.
      As i understand it sutemi is the commitment form the point of no return.
      Are there then in iai maby multiple moments of sutemi or is it one big moment that is all sutemi until chi buri?
      I'm would be leaning towards saying multiple moments being nukitsuke and all following start of cuts in a kata.

      Kind regards,


      PS Disclaimer i'm not suggestion to know anything nor i'm i suggestion things should be a certain way.
      Just trying to broaden my philosophical horizon on the budo's i practice with fellow practitioners
      And yes i do also ask my senseis about the topics.


      • #4
        A very good authority told me that seitei are go-no-sen but left it to me to figure out why. My interpretation is that the seitei techniques are self-defense, hence if at all possible one would prefer the teki to put their weapon back. There isn't the desire to force a resolution ending in one side dying as there is in sen-no-sen or sen-sen-no-sen. Of course, we practice with the assumption that teki will go through with their attack.

        Once action is committed to (no matter which sen) the sutemi comes in. In go-no-sen there's a possibility the conflict resolves peacefully. Does this mean sutemi is different? The physical committment is the same, what about the mental? If teki gives up, do we let sutemi go through with the technique? Or does sutemi allow for adjustments to changing circumstances.

        I have more questions than answers. Thanks for provoking some.