For what I've been found, this two arts have some similarities, but I can't fully understand it, this is pretty much the definition of each.

Iaido: The art of sword drawing. All katas begin and end with the sword sheathed. In some ways you could liken it to preparedness at all times, not just in battle.

Iaijutsu: The art of drawing the sword, is one of the Japanese martial disciplines in the education of the classical warrior. It's a combative sword-drawing art but not necessarily an aggressive art because iaijutsu is also a counterattack-oriented art.

I'll be grateful if someone could tell me a relevant difference!

Thanks in advance!

4 Answers 4


Likely the most significant difference you'd see is that Iaido is practiced as a stand-alone art, while Iaijutsu would be one component of a Ryu (school/style) that has a larger scope. It's unlikely you'd find someone who practices Iaijutsu who doesn't also know Kenjutsu, but you could quite likely find someone who practices Iaido who doesn't know Kendo or any other martial art but instead practices calligraphy and dance.


Disclaimer- I am not a Japanese speaker.

Short Answer: Don't worry about it.

Longer Answer: The suffix -jutsu means 'practice of', the suffix -do means 'study of'. I have been taught by Japanese instructors who have used both or changed for emphasis.

Historically, martial arts tended to be called something-jutsu because they taught you how to do something. After WWII these were banned for a period. When they eventually returned they were modernised and/or rebranded as something-do. This was to give them respectability and to distance them from their military origins.


The exact answer would depend on which specific styles/lineages you're talking about. (And there I am not able to provide specific info.)

But a general answer would be the difference is the meaning of 'do' versus 'jutsu'. Iaido would be a "way"; practicing for self-betterment being the more primary intent. Iaijutsu would be "martially effective"; practicing for literal effectiveness with live weapons being the more primary intent.

A google search for "do versus jutsu" will give you a huge number of hits.


The difference between iaido and iaijutsu is analogous to the difference between judo and jujutsu:

Iaidō derives from older Japanese martial traditions and has historically been referred to as “iaijutsu.” While “iaijutsu” continues to be used today, the term now refers to more traditional practices rooted in martial applications, while “iaidō” refers to its modern equivalent, with greater emphasis on self-development rather than combat.

Further reading: The development of judo in Britain: a sociological study, Volume 1981, Part 1 (p.27):

Martial Arts and Ways in the Broader Social Context
The most obvious point to be made here is that the 'pure' form of classical bujutsu arose within a society where lethal combat was a regular occurrence and that, taking the form (bujutsu) overall, it was 'diluted' under general conditions of peace. Classical bujutsu forms thus became one element in a picture which came to include budo systems with significant differences in character from bujutsu. The rise of classical budo within the generally peaceful setting of the Tokugawa regime would seem to suggest support for the Elias 'civilisation' thesis (27) in that, over time, these forms steadily shifted in emphasis away from techniques for killing an opponent and further towards aims of spiritual development with the eventual goal of self-perfection. As Draeger has stressed, budo disciplines came increasingly to incorporate 'unrealistic' and 'combatively inane' elements of technique (28). Such developments should be looked at in forms central to classical bujutsu, on their shift to budo form. Changes may be looked at specifically in kenjutsu and iaijutsu, in their development as 'do' forms, since they involve the sword, which may be taken as having been the supreme weapon in the classical bujutsu. A number of points may be made to illustrate the combatively impractical nature of kendo and Iaido practice in comparison with kenjutsu and Iaijutsu (29).



  1. the kneeling posture (seiza) often used as the starting-point for iaido techniques is a 'dead' posture; Draeger states that the classical warrior

    "...much preferred iai-goshi, a low crouching posture in which his right knee was raised; this kept him off damp or soiled surfaces and afforded him instant mobility and great speed in drawing his sword to meet an emergency" (30),

    but he sees seiza as a posture

    "...well-suited to an urban, peaceful way of life" (31),

    used frequently in ordinary life in the Tokugawa period.

  2. this involves the actual action of drawing the sword, which, in Iaido

    "...is generally done far too slowly, and in a manner that withdraws as much as eighty percent of the blade from the scabbard before any appreciable speed of action occurs" (32).

  3. the action of 'chiburi', that is 'shaking blood off the blade' is done in an 'inefficient' way, bearing in mind that a classical warrior would have cleaned his blade with a cloth or piece of paper.

  4. the final act of returning the blade to the scabbard ('noto') is made quickly, as a demonstration of skill. The classical warrior would have returned the sword slowly and carefully, manifesting (continued alertness and concentration) in relation to his surroundings, but in the case of iaido the swift return of the blade to the scabbard is positively valued as a test of concentration and 'feel' in the technique, the blade passing close to the fingers of the left hand, which is holding the scabbard.

  5. a more general point is made by Draeger about the understanding, or lack of it, of the classical warrior's customs or 'manners' on the part of iaido exponents. One manifestation of a lack of understanding is the condition of a swordsman's koiguchi (the open end of the scabbard). Draeger quoted Taisaburo Nakamura, a 'master technician' of martial studies and one devoted to 'practical realism':

    "I have carefully examined many hundreds of swords belonging to modern swordsmen, and scarcely have I found one of which the koiguchi ...was unscarred" (33).

The significance of this point is that the classical warrior evaluated skill-levels by the condition of the koiguchi, which would only be damaged if the return of the sword to the scabbard was not done correctly.

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