Iai jutsu, the art of the living sword, is the only discipline, together with shuriken jutsu, which is practiced with a metal weapon.
Iai jutsu is performed, contrary to the other arts, solo. From a standing or kneeling position the sword is drawn and strikes with ferocious speed. Iai jutsu is, therefore, explosive in nature.
In a quiet position the student strikes at his imaginary enemy.
The essence of Iai jutsu is to strike the enemy as effectively as possible.
Because of the fact that there is no actual enemy, these kata require a certain amount of imagination. Imagination is used to “picture” the enemy and show spectators what a student is doing.
This is one of the most difficult disciplines of Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto Ryu.
Iai jutsu consist of 11 kata, 5 of which are preformed from a standing position (Tachi ai jutsu) and 6 kata are performed from a kneeling position (Iai goshi). These kata are taught to all beginning students (Omote), after years of training another 5 advanced kata can be taught (Gokui no Iai-jutsu).
Because the handling of a real or blunt sword requires great accuracy it takes several years of training before students gain sufficient control over the weapon. There are strict limits to the use of a sharp sword. Students will not use a sharp sword within the first 3 years of training and need permission from the instructor of the dojo.