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Information on choosing your Iaito

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 - It depends on the blade and Tsuka length, and fitting options

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

Your size Blade

Tsuka Recommended Lenght

Standard Weight Iaito
[without Saya]
Heavy Weight Iaito
[without Saya]
~ 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.

Blade Hamon

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.

Tsukasame

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.

 

Fuchi & Kashira dimensions and material
Picture Code Name Related
Iaito
Description Fuchi
Length
Fuchi
Width
Fuchi
Height
Kashira
Length
Kashira
Width
Kashira
Height
Material
FK100 Ryu Tokusei
Koshirae
Dragon 3.9
cm
2.2
cm
1.4
cm
3.4
cm
1.9
cm
1.1
cm
Aluminum
FK101 Sakura Tokusei
Koshirae
Cherry blossom 3.8 cm 2.2 cm 1.1 cm 3.5 cm 1.8 cm 1.2 cm Brass
Copper
FK103 Higo Icho Higo Zogan
Koshirae
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
Koshirae
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
FK105 Higo Karakusa Higo
Koshirae
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
FK106 Yagyu Kasumi Yagyu
Koshirae
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
FK108 Higo Nawa Toppei
Koshirae
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
FK110 Guribori Hon Jidai
Koshirae
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
Koshirae
Higo is a province in south Japan, Ishime means stone pattern. 4.0 cm 2.1 cm 0.95 cm 3.5 cm 2.8 cm 1.1 cm Iron
FK113 Higo Yukibana Koto
Koshirae
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
Koshirae
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
FK120 Higo Guribori Dotanuki
Koshirae
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

Tsuba

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.

Detailed measurements

Picture Name Descprition Height Width Thickness Weight Material
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

Menuki

Although the Menuki influence the balance of the weapon, it is very subtle given its light weight. It can be desirable however, to choose a heavy Menuki in order to slightly shift the weight towards the Tsuba (and vice versa).

Detailed measurements

Sayanuri

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.

Care

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.

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