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Hong Kong Toyama-Ryu Iaido Association
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01. What are the basic requirements for practicing Toyama Ryu Iaido? Are there any restrictions on age and gender?
Iaido training has no age or gender restrictions and a martial arts background is also not required, However, students must be physically control the Japan sword and our equipement can fit for their body figure. At present, we only can provide the equipement for age of students of 15 and the maximum is over age 60. The minimum height to be able to practice is 155 cm.
02. What is the difference between Toyama Ryu Iaido and Kendo?
Both focus on Japanese swordsmanship, but the practice is different. Kendo practitioners wear a bogu armor and fence with a bamboo sword. In Iaido, one wears a cloth uniform (traditional Japanese robes) and practice is done with a real Japanese sword (or a non-cutting sword at first, or when performing katas). The practice of Toyama Ryu Iaido is mainly divided into three parts: katas, cutting and fencing (the latter using mock, padded swords). In addition, the course content includes sword maintenance, etiquette and Japanese sword history, appreciation and knowledge.
03. What kind of equipment is required to learn Toyama Ryu Iaido?
The basic equipment includes Japanese robes/uniform (including a long shirt known as a gi, pleated trousers or hakama, a cotton belt or obi and split-toe Tabi socks), as well as both practice and cutting Japanese swords. If the student has his or her own equipment, it must be tested by our instructors for safety and compliance with the practice specifications of the dojo. Students who do not have their own equipment can consider purchasing an "Iaido initial set" comprised of a full uniform and a practice (non-cutting) sword, together with the fee for the first month of practice.
04. How can I apply and start practising?
To start with, please contact the association to obtain the registration form, which you can then fill online. Payment can be made in cash at the dojo or by bank transfer (please contact us for details). New participants are required to apply before the third of each month in order to start practice.
05. Can I rent practice equipment? Can I have a practice run before starting?
In addition to learning Iaido skills, participants must also pay attention to spiritual practice. Taking care of your equipment is therefore also part of the training, including folding of the uniform and sword maintenance. It is best that all trainees have their own equipment to better understand the practice of Iaido. Accordingly, the association does not rent equipment. No trial practice is provided but members of the public are welcome to visit us to better understand Toyama Ryu Iaido. You can also consider participating in promotional workshops we organise from time to time, for example the "90-mins Japanese Iaido Class" cooperation with Groupon.
06. Are there any expenses other than basic equipment and the monthly fee?
At various stages of training, there may be a need to purchase some of the following:
1) Straw mat targets for cutting practice (HK$15 each)
2) Sword cleaning supplies (from tens to up to one hundred dollars)
3) A sword bag (from tens to up to a few hundred dollars)
4) A cutting sword (a few thousand dollars)
5) Examination fee for ranking test (about HK$100)
6) Participation in competitions in Hong Kong and/or Japan (a few hundred dollars)
7) Participation in special seminars (a few hundred dollars)
8) Annual fee for membership of the Zen-Nihon Toyamaryu Iaido Renmei association (around one hundred dollars)
9) Name embroidery for the uniform (HK$50)
* Items and prices are for reference only. Please note that prices may increase or change.
07. What is the difference between each of the three weekly sessions? Must I attend all?
Before the start of each session, participants are grouped by the instructors according to their practice level. Participants are free to choose the number of sessions they attend although, of course, attending more classes ultimately means a faster progression in terms of skill and ranking.
08. How long will it take before I can learn to try to cut targets?
Cutting targets is dangerous, so students must first learn safety rules and master the basic techniques required to use a sword. The time varies depending on the skill and number of attendees but most trainees generally achieve this within four to six weeks.
09. Is it necessary to obtain a license for a Japanese sword?
In Hong Kong, owning a Japanese sword (whether a practice sword or a real, cutting sword) does not require a license. However, in accordance with the Weapons Ordinance (Cap. 217), the use of Japanese swords for martial arts purposes is subject to strict supervision by the association. We do provide storage space for members to store equipment. If any sword needs to be removed from the dojo for a performance, competition or for other purposes, the association will notify the Commissioner of Police 48 hours in advance.
10. Is the practice of Toyama Ryu Iaido safe?
Safety is of paramount importance and a top priority. All members and trainees must study, and abide by our safety rules from the outset. Members are expected to fully understand and bear in mind the importance of safety at all times.
11. How does ranking work? Can I take ranking tests?
Students can apply for a ranking test once a month in accordance with their level of skill and the number of sessions they have attended. There are ten levels (or kyu) before students can reach the first dan level (broadly equivalent to a black belt for other martial arts). In addition, the Zen-Nihon Toyamaryu Iaido Renmei association in Japan arranges dan examinations (sanctioned by three instructors) twice a year: in May in Japan and in November in Hong Kong.
Please contact us if you have any further questions.