What are the fighting styles which employ the katana from the beginning of training?

  • 4
    Iaido, kenjutsu, kendo for sure. Shodokan Aikido has basic hand movements derived from sword work that are thought within the first 30 minutes of each class. Other styles of Aikido (Iwama?) have weapon training from earlier on. Jan 23, 2013 at 8:02

4 Answers 4


Major categories that I am aware of (expanding slightly on Sardathrion's comment):

Iaijutsu (居合術) and Iaido (居合道) are the art of drawing the sword. Iaijutsu, theoretically, prefers more practical application while iaido is closer to an internal martial art, but you'll find schools under both names that exist along a bit of a continuum.

Kenjutsu (剣術) is actually a bit of a blanket term for traditional Japanese swordsmanship and is literally "the technique of the sword."

Kendo (剣道) can be more sport/sparring oriented than kenjutsu usually is, and has formalized rules, scoring, judging, etc.

These are all essentially umbrella terms for more-or-less what you seem to be looking for: martial arts that teach katana.

Also needing a special mention here is kumdo (검도 (劍道)), which is a Korean derivative of kendo.

My experience has been that aikido dojo vary hugely in how early and how seriously they integrate weapon work, but you can certainly ask if you have an interest in learning aikido along with the sword work. The same is true of a lot of other martial arts: Some of them integrate weapons early, some later, and the only real way to figure it out is to ask at the individual dojo level.

  • 3
    In Shodokan aikido, sword work is there to improve your Aikido and not to teach you how to use a sword. I suspect that many other styles of Aikido are similar. Jan 24, 2013 at 7:43
  • 1
    I practice/teach at an Aikikai dojo, and we have a weekly weapons class anyone is welcome to attend. But it's very stylized and, as @Sardathrion said, mostly serves to improve one's Aikido.
    – BenCole
    Jan 24, 2013 at 14:42
  • While its not a Japanese "katana" Korean Gumdo is an art where you use a similar blade from the beginning (Gumdo is the Korean art of sword play). Feb 10, 2013 at 19:51
  • @John.Weland I already mentioned it. "Gumdo" is a different romanization of kumdo (검도). Feb 10, 2013 at 22:36

Many ninjutsu and related arts like To Shin Do have weapons classes open to all from the beginning, some even incorporate weapons training into regular classes as well. Look at your friendly neighborhood band of ninjas to see. :)


Kendo the "way of the Sword"

Iaido the "art of Drawing Swords" or " being Consonantly prepared"

Both teach you the ways of using a Katana but don't necessary require the use of the actually blade to learn. They also focus on the mind set that some with practice the blade and learn how to cut with one.


Iaido uses a katana, but only when you are advanced. Any martial art that involves two people "fighting" will not use a katana. The sword used in these is the wooden Bokuto.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.