"Iaido" (pronounced "ee-eye-doe") is generally described as the art of quickly drawing the sword and countering an attack. We practice the ZNKR style of iaido under the guidance of the Houston Budokan and Sensei Darrell Craig, who in turn has strong ties to the Chiba family of Osaka (Hokushin Kan Itto Ryu). Our club is also affiliated with the Southern United States Kendo & Iaido Federation and the All United States Kendo Federation.

History of ZNKR iaido:

Sensei Morton performs the 9th kata. (c) Cosmo Kitty

Today, the most widely practiced forms of Japanese sword work are promoted by the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei, that is, the Japan Kendo Federation or ZNKR. The ZNKR promotes kendo and a system of iaido called the seitei gata iai or standardized forms of iai.

The primary goal of iaido practice is to develop self-discipline, control, and a calm presence. Although ZNKR iaido was designed to supplement the kendo curriculum, it can be practiced on its own. To learn more about this modern form of iaido, click this section's header.

The following information about ZNKR iaido roughly follows the format of what you would experience if you practice with us.


Chiba Family Scroll For ZNKR & KendoIn one sense, class begins when you enter the door and bow. The bow is a traditional Japanese symbol of respect for one another and for our practice space, and it reminds us to leave the day's cares at the door. At the start and finish of class, we bow to a kamiza, a scroll identifying our affiliation to the Chiba family.

Warmup Exercises:

Every ZNKR iaido class begins with warmup exercises, both empty handed and with the sword. These are designed to loosen up the body, focus the mind, and reinforce movements used in kata.


4th kata.In ZNKR, there are 12 kata, derived from several old schools of iai.  Iaido kata are solitary forms in which the practitioner visualizes and defends against one to four imaginary opponents. The basic components of each kata include:

1. Nukitsuke (draw and initial cut)
2. Kiri-oroshi (finishing cut)
3. Chiburi (flinging blood off of blade)
4. Noto (resheathing sword)

Every movement is precisely timed and executed with efficiency. Students practice entire kata countless time to develop this precision. 

Kata known as ShinAs students advance in rank, they study one of the many older styles of iaido, called koryu. Students of Sensei Craig typically study Mugai Ryu.





Iaido can be practiced by anyone and by many ages. Iaido is physically challenging for everyone and can be appropriately modified when needed.

Iaido for Everyone

Equipment & Uniform:

Beginners should wear loose clothing and knee braces (not knee pads). Advanced students will use an iaito or sword made of zinc-aluminum alloy, identical in appearance to a katana but not as sharp. The use of a "real" sword with a "live" edge is reserved for the most advanced students.


We strive to keep the costs of practicing low. Beginners do not need to purchase a uniform. We will provide beginners with a bokuto or bokken, a wooden practice sword.


The names of kata, basic movements, and various techniques are described in the Japanese language.

Copyright 2010 by River City Iaido & Kendo Kyokai, All rights reserved.
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