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Iaido is the art of drawing the sword. Practice consists of Kata, choreographed forms performed against invisible opponents. All Kata begin and end with the sword sheathed. For some schools, Iaido practice also includes, Tameshigiri, the cutting of materials, such as bamboo, to test a swordsman’s ability to cut.


Iaido encompasses many styles of swordsmanship. The Houston Kenshikan teaches the styles of Seitei Iaido and Muso Shinden Ryu.

Seitei is a form of modern, standardized Iaido created by the All Japan Kendo Federation to promote Iaido within Kendo Dojos. It is also designed to give students a strong foundation for Koyru, old, classical styles of Iai. While there are only 12 Kata, the Kata may be studied for over a lifetime alone. Under the All US Kendo Federation, members may test for rank, compete, and participate in seminars year wide. In addition, demonstration of Koryu is required in order for students to receive promotion in the higher Dan, black belt, ranks.


Muso Shinden Ryu was established by Nakayama Hakudo in 1932 and has become one of the largest Koryu. Muso Shinden means "transmission of divine vision." Muso Shinden Ryu has a substantial number of Kata compared to Seitei Iaido. It contains 3 levels of Kata: Shoden, Chuden, and Okuden. Though these Kata, one may fully study the various techniques as well as the essence of Iaido as a martial art.


Marcus Lee-Steere, 7th Dan
Marcus Lee-Steere Sensei is Renshi 7th Dan Iaido, as well as 6th Dan Jodo. He recently moved to Houston from Melbourne, Australia. He has practiced Iaido and Jodo for 25 years and has trained extensively in Japan. Marcus Sensei has held leadership roles in the Victorian and Australian Kendo Renmei and was most recently the Chair of the AKR Iaido board.

houston kendo and iaido

Mark Kerstein, 4th Dan
Kerstein Sensei has over 40 years of experience in Iaido, as well as in Kendo. Kerstein Sensei regularly attends events on Seitei Iaido.


Iaido is a companion martial art to Kendo. We believe students who are serious about studying swordsmanship should study both Iaido and Kendo. Since a student can always “win” in Iaido against invisible opponents, students who wish to study Iaido at The Houston Kenshikan must first have some Kendo experience.

Once a student is in uniform in Kendo, the student may begin to study Seitei Iaido. After learning the basics of Seitei Kata, students may begin Muso Shinden Ryu.


Other than a uniform, an Obi (the belt to hold the sword), knee pads, a and sword is needed to practice Iaido. Basic Obi start from $25.

Students may start with a Bokuto, wooden sword, and a Saya, scabbard. This is perhaps the cheapest and safest way to start Iai, but is only recommended for beginners with less than a year of experience. The Dojo has a limited number of Bokuto and Saya to lend. For those who wish to purchase a Bokuto and Saya, they run around $35 each.

Iaido is usually practiced with an Iaito, a metal sword with a dull edge and sharp tip. A good, basic Iaito costs around $600.

Iaido at a high Dan level may be practiced with a Shinken, a real sword with a sharp edge.

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