Iaido is a non-contact Japanese martial art that can be practiced by adults* of all ages. Beginners are welcome to come along to either of the dojo's sessions. There is no need to get any special equipment before starting, dojo leaders and members can advise of the places to get clothing (hakama, keikogi, and obi) and swords. Loose clothing should be worn and it is advised to get a pair of knee pads (the type used for volleyball are ideal) as a large number of the kata require the practitioner to be kneeling.
Beginners will initially start training with a wooden sword (bokken). After a while they can obtain a blunt metal practice sword (iaito). Iaito look and feel like a genuine Japanese katana but are frequently made of an aluminium alloy. After years of training an iaidoka may start using a live edged sword (shinken).
We do strongly advise that beginners do not obtain a sword prior to starting practice with a dojo, or use a sword they may already own. Changes in UK legislation in 2008 forbids the purchase and importation of 'samurai swords' (including iaito and shinken), although martial art practitioners belonging to bona fide organisations (such as the British Kendo Association), can still obtain items on production of certain documentation. Many 'Japanese' swords designed as decorative fixtures (aka wallhangers) sold prior to the 2008 legislation are not suitable for iaido or any other martial arts practice.
*Generally speaking, iaido is not a suitable martial art for children. The equipment is not manufactured in small sizes and there are concerns about young people, while in their formative years, using swords that are probably too heavy or too long. Should a person under 18 years wish to study iaido, the Shin Bu Kan Dojo (Rochester) has instructors who are DBS checked via the British Kendo Association, although we would wish to discuss the matter with the young person's parents or guardian.