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Swords and equipment

Chidokan MJER dojo

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Looking after iaito

Its a good idea to look after iaito and bokken the same way as proper swords. It gets you into a good habit, after all to repolish a sword costs a lot of money...
There is no need to use proper choji oil though, keep that for the shinken, any light oil will do, such as the one you would use on bicycles, with anti rust properties. You also dont smell like you have been to the dentist either. Do not use powder to dry or help clean iaito, it scratches the chrome finish and will eventually spoil the look and feel of the iaito.
As most iaito have a chrome finish you should be careful not to chip it as once the surface is damaged the alloy corrodes easily. Examine the sword closely on a regular basis and it will last you a long time. Also dont forget to look after the other parts of the sword, check the mekugi for damage, and the saya to make sure it is not getting cut through.
You can repair saya if the sword becomes loose by adding a thin veneer or paper to the inside. Do not use sandpaper as the grit tends to get inside the saya and scratch the blade 's surface.

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TRANSPORTING YOUR SWORD

 

The Japanese sword in all its forms (including Bokken) is considered to be an offensive weapon.  Care and consideration should be taken when carrying it in public places. Certain common sense rules need to be considered when carrying a sword to and from training:-

 

       Never carry a sword without it being contained in a case of some sort.  To do so may be illegal in your area.

       Buy or make a box to carry your sword in.  Gun cases are ideal for this purpose.

       When transporting a sword in a vehicle, store it in the boot  out of sight.

       Always carry your handbook with you containing your photo and insurance slip in case you are legitimately stopped and asked to explain why you have a sword in your possession.

       Never threaten anyone with your sword even in fun.

Training gi
 
Look after your gi and it will last you a long time. Please wash your jackets regularly. Mend any tears, especially in hakama, as this may cause you to trip and injure either ourself or someone else. Do not wear hakama too long, again you may trip. These are best when they just touch the top of your foot when standing up straight. There are no colour restrictions, but please try to be restrained in your choice... avoid any fashion designers who are taken with flourescent pink and bright purples.
I try to keep a set for special occasions like demonstrations and gradings etc which are not used for regular training so they are always presentable when required. Montsuki should be worn with tabi during embu.
A good seamstress will be able to make jackets and hakama quite easily. You must be prepared to have a set of hakama taken apart though... That way you can get good quality gi at a reasonable price.
The club can help buy equipment, with various catalogues and sources of supply.

Choosing a sword
 
There are a few things to watch out for when buying iaito. If you do not have access to an instructor who can help you or recommend good iaito, I hope this will help.
Not all swords from Japan are suitable for use as iaito, they are also made as wall ornaments. A decent iaito should cost you upwards of 150... Other countries also make iaito some are good, some not so good.
First of all, check the length. If you hold the tsuka naturally and are relaxed, the tip should just brush the floor. Do not stretch to make it reach. Alternatively stand and draw the sword. Look at the point where it is about to leave the saya. Are you over stretching? If so it is too long. A rough guide for someone who is about 6 feet tall is a sword of 2.45 to 2.55 shaku.
The sword should not be too heavy. Children/youths and ladies should always use lighter swords of 750 grammes or less.
Check the mekugi. It should be made of bamboo. If you can, remove the tsuka and look at the length of the steel inside, it should be about 2/3 the length of the tsuka.
Saya are best plain, ones with metal ornaments tend to stick when trying to put them in and out of the obi.
The same applies to tsuba, plain and small allows an easier draw.
The sword should be tight in the saya, if not this can be repaired, but check to see why it is loose.
Sageo length and colour are up to you, but longer is better as you can always shorten them. Red signifies high rank, so avoid these...
The club has several new catalogues from various suppliers of both iaito and shinken, prices ranging from about 200 and up for reasonable quality iaito.

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a selection of tsuka styles and colours, mostly in club use....

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