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How to choose your Iaito
Information on choosing your Iaito Size, Model & Options
Unlike for Dogi, Hakama, or Obi, the use of poor quality material to manufacture Iaito can be dangerous and lead to serious injuries. Seido is very attentive to safety and our Iaito are especially selected for their high quality.
Contrary to a popular belief in the West, steel Iaito do not exist in Japan. The possession of weapons is strictly prohibited by law and owning a steel weapon is only possible with a legal circumvention that categorizes the Katana as an art object, not as weapon. The very restrictive law, even for those owning a real steel Katana, and considering its price, the vast majority of practitioners tends to use Iaito. Iaito are usually made of aluminum/zinc alloys, which can be produced via different processes. The Minosaka blades are manufactured through a proprietary process that yields a high quality, "bubble-free" alloy.
The first thing to determine when choosing a Iaito is your type of practice. Will you seldom use your Iaito? Do you use it in every class? What type of Budo do you practice?
Beginners and casual weapons practitioners will opt for low-cost but reliable material which is found in the Tokusei or Jidai Koshirae Iaito models. More seasoned practitioners and collectors will opt for the superior Higo Koshirae. High level practitioners will also appreciate heavy-weight models such as the Hon Koshirae. Please note that Iaito that are heavy and difficult to handle, should be reserved for experienced practitioners.
The weight of the Iaito depends on the blade, Tsuka length, and options
How to determine the correct size
The blade length is usually determined by the size of the practitioner.
Be careful though: depending on schools and teachers, the recommendations may vary slightly to what we suggest in this table. In general, for Aikido practitioners for whom the Noto (sheathing the sword) does not seem crucial, we advise to opt for a Iaito that is 0.5 Shaku shorter than what is suggested in the table.
The blade lengths are given according to the size of the practitioner and following the guidelines suggested by the Japanese Iaido Federation. The Tsuka lengths are suggested by our team so as to conserve the balance of the weapon, but also taking into account the fact that the hands of western practitioners are generally bigger than those of the Japanese.
The following table does not take into account the weight variations that occur when choosing Tsuba and Menuki.
Size Table & Weight
Tsuka Recommended Lenght
|Standard Weight Iaito
|Heavy Weight Iaito
|~ 150 cm||2.20 shaku / 66.6 cm||8 sun / 22.4 cm||670 g||850 g|
|~ 155 cm||2.25 shaku / 68.2 cm||8 sun / 22.4 cm||700 g||880 g|
|~ 160 cm||2.30 shaku / 69.6 cm||8.5 sun / 25.8 cm||720 g||910 g|
|~ 165 cm||2.35 shaku / 71.2 cm||8.5 sun / 25.8 cm||750 g||940 g|
|~ 170 cm||2.40 shaku / 72.7 cm||8.5 sun / 25.8 cm||780 g||970 g|
|~ 175 cm||2.45 shaku / 74.2 cm||9 sun / 27.3 cm||810 g||1000 g|
|~ 180 cm||2.50 shaku / 75.8 cm||9 sun / 27.3 cm||840 g||1030 g|
|~ 185 cm||2.55 shaku / 77.3 cm||9.5 sun / 28.7 cm||870 g||1060 g|
|~ 190 cm||2.60 shaku / 78.8 cm||9.5 sun / 28.7 cm||NA||1100 g|
|~ 195 cm||2.65 shaku / 90.3 cm||10 sun / 30.7 cm||NA||1140 g|
|~ 200 cm||2.70 shaku / 81.8 cm||10 sun / 30.7 cm||NA||1180 g|
Standard weigth blades have a maximum of 2.55 shaku and heavy blades a maximum of 2.70 shaku.
Standard models are available up to 2.45 and 2.55 shaku, however, deluxe models are available up to 2.55 and 2.70 shaku (mounted accordingly to compensate the structural weakness of longer blades).
More information on available options
Click on the "open" buttons to display the details.
The Hamon on the Iaito is for purely aesthetic reasons and has no effect on the usage of the weapon.
On Shinken (Katana), it results from selective quenching, and its quality depends heavily on the forge.
The Iaito being made of aluminum, it cannot be sharpened, the Hamon is made by sanding it using a stencil. In the same category of Hamon (e.g. Notare, Midare), the workshop has dozens of stencils, all slightly varying, so that there are very few identical Hamon.
Habaki & Seppa
The color and finish of the Habaki and Seppa are purely decorative.
The Habaki are proposed in 3 models: Muji (plain), Shonai, and Yujo.
While conventional models are made of raw copper, "deluxe" Habaki and Seppa models are offered with gold and silver plating.
The quality of the Tsukasame (ray skin) has a significant influence on the quality of the grip and it can be made in white or black. Its color is of course, only for aesthetic purpose.
Tsukaito & Sageo
The Tsukaito and the Sageo are available in cotton for the classic models and in silk for the deluxe models.
Cotton has the advantage of a better sweat absorption but is however, less durable than the silk.
Fuchi & Kashira
The Fuchi and Kashira are two pieces that complete the Tsuka, the handle of a sword. The Fuchi is the collar and the Kashira the butt of the handle.They are made from aluminum, brass, copper and iron, the finish itself is only for decorative purpose.
|Cherry blossom||3.8 cm||2.2 cm||1.1 cm||3.5 cm||1.8 cm||1.2 cm||Brass
|FK103||Higo Icho||Higo Zogan
|Higo is a province in south Japan, Icho means Ginko and Zogan refers to a technique of inlaying gold or silver on metal.||4.0 cm||2.3 cm||1.1 cm||3.5 cm||1.8 cm||1.3 cm||Iron|
|FK104||Higo Nami||Edo Higo
|Higo is a province in south Japan, Nami means wave and Edo refers to the Edo period.||4.1 cm||2.3 cm||1.4 cm||3.6 cm||1.7 cm||1.3 cm||Brass|
|Higo is a province in south Japan, Karakusa refers to the arabesque pattern.||4.1 cm||2.3 cm||1.0 cm||3.5 cm||1.8 cm||1.6 cm||Brass|
|Yagyu is a famous Samurai / clan, typically edged shapes in sword designs. Kasumi means mist.||4.0 cm||2.2 cm||1.1 cm||3.5 cm||1.7 cm||1.0 cm||Brass|
|Higo is a province in south Japan, Nawa means cord.||4.2 cm||2.3 cm||1.1 cm||3.5 cm||1.8 cm||1.3 cm||Brass|
|Guribori is a traditional tendril motive.||4.1 cm||2.5 cm||1.2 cm||3.7 cm||2.0 cm||1.1 cm||Brass|
|FK111||Higo Ishime||Shinto Higo
|Higo is a province in south Japan, Ishime means stone pattern.||4.0 cm||2.1 cm||0.95 cm||3.5 cm||1.8 cm||1.1 cm||Iron|
|Higo is a province in south Japan, Yukibana meaning snowflake.||4.0 cm||2.3 cm||1.3 cm||3.6 cm||1.7 cm||1.8 cm||Iron|
|FK118||Higo Icho Karakusa||Kanesada
|Higo is a province in south Japan, Icho means Ginko and Karakusa refers to the arabesque pattern.||4.0 cm||2.3 cm||1.1 cm||3.5 cm||1.7 cm||1.3 cm||Iron|
|Higo is a province in south Japan, Guribori is a traditional tendril motive.||4.3 cm||2.6 cm||1.6 cm||3.7 cm||2.0 cm||1.7 cm||Brass|
The Tsuba has two main functions: aesthetic and balance adjustment.
A heavy Tsuba shifts the balance towards the Tsuka, making the Iaito easier to handle whereas a light Tsuba will push the balance towards the Kissaki (choose the latter if you decide to focus on cutting training).
You will find below some photos of all our Tsuba but also details on the size, material, and weight.
Tsuba Detailed measurements
|Washi||Eagle||7.5 cm||7 cm||4.1 mm||136 g||Wrought iron|
|Yagyu||Name of a famous Samurai clan||7.5 cm||7.3 cm||5.3 mm||123 g||Copper|
|Shippo||The 7 treasures (gold, silver, pearls, agate, crystal, coral, lapis lazuli)||7.4 cm||7 cm||4.1 mm||135 g||Wrought iron|
|Hanjiro||Famous Samurai||7.9 cm||6.5 cm||6 mm||142 g||Copper|
|Umedata||Famous blacksmith from the Edo period.||8.4 cm||7.5 cm||4.3 mm||150 g||Wrought iron|
|Hyotan||Gourd (calabash)||7.1 cm||7 cm||5 mm||126 g||Copper|
|Musashi||Famous samurai||7.4 cm||7.4 cm||7.1 mm||146 g||Copper|
|Kasuga||Spring sun. Name of a place.||8.4 cm||7.6 cm||4.1 mm||138 g||Wrought iron|
|Ameryu||Dragon under the rain.||8.1 cm||7.7 cm||4.1 mm||147 g||Wrought iron|
|Namako||Holothuroidea (sea cucumber)||7.4 cm||6.9 cm||4.1 mm||90 g||Wrought iron|
|Muji||plain (no pattern)||7.4 cm||6.9 cm||4.1 mm||134 g||Wrought iron|
|Kagecho||Butterfly shadow||7.4 cm||7.2 cm||5 mm||106 g||Copper|
|Nami||Wave||8.1 cm||7.7 cm||4.1 mm||145 g||Wrought iron|
|Hirata||Famous Edo period Samurai||7.6 cm||7.2 cm||4.5 mm||120 g||Copper|
|Higo||Province in South Japan (now Kumamoto)||7.5 cm||7.1 cm||4.1 mm||90 g||Wrought iron|
|Shin-Umetada||Famous blacksmith of the Edo period (shin means "new").||8.5 cm||7.6 cm||4.1 mm||165 g||Wrought iron|
|Mokko Kuyomon||Refers to the small drawing on the lower right part of the Tsuba, a Buddhist symbol representing "The 12 Principles of nine planets." "Mokko shape".||7.6 cm||7.9 cm||4 mm||124 g||Wrought iron|
|Maru Kuyomon||Refers to the small drawing on the lower left part of the Tsuba a Buddhist symbol representing "The 12 Principles of nine planets." "Rounded shape".||7.8 cm||7.7 cm||4.1 mm||136 g||Wrought iron|
|Icho Zogan||Icho means Ginko and Zogan refers to a technique of inlaying gold or silver on metal.||8.4 cm||7.7 cm||4.1 mm||141 g||Wrought iron|
The coating protects the Magnolia wood of which the Saya is made of. Even though the lacquering has no influence on the practice, we generally advise to choose "Ishime" (Kuroishime, Chaishime) as it those are more resistant to scratches.
The differences between the "Chaishime", "Kuroshime", and "Hon Chaishime" coatings reside in the number and thickness of the layers applied. The "Hon" (meaning "real" in Japanese) models are composed of more layers and therefore, the processing time is longer than that of the classic models. The same applies to all deluxe Saya with complex lacquering.
Taking care of your Iaito
Unlike steel Shinken (Katana), Iaito require only minimal maintenance. It is not absolutely necessary to oil the blade because it does not rust. However, regularly applying oil is advised to feed the wood of the Saya.
Please be careful to not use Uchiko powder (used for Shinken) as it may cause damage to alloy blades.
Of course, the Iaito should be cleaned with a cloth after each class. Ensuring good maintenance of all parts is essential to keep the Iaito in good condition, to avoid safety issues and hence, injuries.