(Method of bowing in IAIDO)
from the book The Life Giving Sword by Bahman Ebrahimi
IAIDO begins and ends with REI (the bow)
REI is a way of showing respect and humility. OTAGAI NI REI (students bow to each other at the end of the class), shows that both IAIDO students are in harmony without difference or contradiction. REI in the IAIDO dojo will indicate the beginning and ending of training. Swords are only presented during class time, which begins and ends with REI. Performing the REI keeps the dojo peaceful and calm. During the bowing ceremony, the KATANA’S TSUKA (sword handle) should be kept out of right hand reach. Consequently, the katana is grasped with the right hand and the action considered non-aggressive. This rule applies when we display the sword on katana KAKE (sword stand). The TSUKA points to the left.
In RITSU REI / TACHI REI (standing bow toward SHINZEN or SHOMEN), IAIDO ka holds the SAYA in the right hand. The katana should remain in its steady position while bowing. The right hand is almost 10cm away from the TSUBA. In ZA REI (kneeling bow), the katana is moved from the left hand to the right hand and rests at the right side of the body with the TSUKA pointing forward. This makes the drawing almost impossible. During the TO REI (bowing to the sword) in SEIZA (seated position) the katana is placed in front on the floor with the TSUKA to the left. OMOTE (face of the sword) is down. This means that the Ha (cutting edge) faces the IAIDO ka.
In standing TO-REI, both hands holding the sword are in front of the body at face level. The TSUKA on the left side ha (edge) faces the body. The katana should remain steady in front of the body while bowing. The duration of the REI should be kept one or two seconds longer than the sensei. This shows a sense of integrity and respect to the sensei, KAMIZA (higher seat) and to oneself. When bowing, one should be in a state of MUSHIN (no mind) and MUGA (no ego).
The Katana was more than a weapon to the samurai. The Katana represented the samurai’s soul and his duty to society. The samurai considered the sword a part of themselves that gave them freedom from fear. The sword represented moral values like patience, discipline, honour, loyalty, determination, simplicity, calmness, tolerance, wisdom, courage, respect and trust. As a result, a strict code of ethics and formality was created on how to wear, train, carry and display the katana. Integrity to oneself and respect to the sword was highly recommended at all time. This even includes when we talk about the Japanese sword. The actual life-giving sword is not to be misused or misinterpreted, displayed or practiced in public. In Ken Shin dojo an IAIDO ka maintains these rules to preserve tradition and not to gratify the ego. According to Ken Shin Dojo rules of conduct, the IAIDO ka is supposed to lock and cover the sword after each training session as follows: