What to expect as a beginning student of Iaido.

In the very beginning, in addition to learning mundane things like how to put on a hakama, and basic dojo etiquette, students of Iaido are taught the fundamentals of how to handle a sword, which includes nukitsuke (drawing the sword out of the scabbard) and how to perform noto (returning the sword to the scabbard). This is first done  with a bokuto (wooden sword) with a saya, or with an iaito (non-sharp practice blade of metal), but never with a shinken (sharp Japanese samurai sword). Beginners will also learn basic sword cuts and movements, along with the proper terminology.

The first kata that a novice will learn are from the Omori Ryu, or Shoden (first level) set. There are twelve solo kata in this set. These are what a student will spend the majority of their time on until they test for Shodan.

There are also two person kata done with bokuto, called kumitachi, that teach timing, distance, and focus.