ZNKR History

The history of seitei iaido is linked to the history of the ZNKR or all Japan Kendo Federation, which was established in 1952 when the Occupation's ban on martial arts was lifted. During this time frame, the martial aspects of sword work were de-emphasized, and sword work became more sports oriented. 

Many kendo instructors continued to teach iai, as a way to learn the mechanics of a real sword, but the old iai techniques took decades to master, suggesting a need for a more compact experience. Plus, the many different old styles (koryu) made it difficult to judge and award ranks. The All Japan Kendo Federation decided to develop a new system of iaido distilled from the old schools. For more details about this history, see Wayne Muromoto's article on "The Origins of Seitei Iai." 

In May 1969, the first seitei iai (standardized) kata were introduced. The original set included seven kata, derived from Ohmori-ryu, Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, Hoki-ryu, and other old styles. Three additional kata, also distilled from old styles, were introduced in 1981. In 2001, two more kata were added to the system, making a total of 12 kata.

While the ZNKR promotes both kendo and iaido, it is not necessary for a student to study both, although many choose to do so. Kendo, kendo kata, and iaido were designed to work together in teaching a set of sword skills.


Testing, tournaments, and rank are separate in ZNKR iaido and kendo, but both follow similar standards and terminology and use the same "kyu" (basic) and "dan" (black belt) levels. Belt color is not reflected in the uniform and is not overtly emphasized, although class structure emphasizes the respect and obligations that run between senior and junior students. Click here for information about etiquette.

The ZNKR's standardized iaido is promoted in the U.S.A. by the All United States Kendo Federation (AUSKF), of which River City Iaido & Kendo Kyokai (RCIKK) is a member. The AUSKF is organized into various regional federations, including the Southern Kendo & Iaido Federation, of which RCIKK is also a member.


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