Nukiuchi Sen-No-Sen

Nuchiuchi Sen-No-Sen is the first Iaido cut learnt in Daikuuryu. It is a Shomenuchi cut and considered a basic cut. The kata begins from a formal position, the Budoka steps out with the right foot forward. Typically, the kata includes three steps before the cut in a right-left-right sequence. Naturally, in a real fighting situation this is determined by the distance between opponents. If they are close then no step is required and the draw may happen on the first right step as is shown.

The first step is the draw. The  saya is already in the correct position for the draw and does not need to be manipulated. Draw the sword out, up and forward taking a large right step forward. This step is considered a spacing technique where the draw forces the opponent to stop his approach. Always remember that the drawing of the sword is a serious affair and you are putting the opponent on notice that you are prepared to execute the killing cut if need be.

The second step paces the budoka in the position for the primary cut.  With the left leg forward make sure that you are looking forward from under the arms (hands) and that the position of your hands are not too low and thus blocking your view.  Make sure that you keep your mind on the proper grip of the sword. Try not to hold the grip too strongly as well as not too loosely. If the grip is held too strongly the flow of your technique will be interrupted and you will have the feeling that you are wielding a bat or club. If your grip is too loose then you run the risk of loosing control of the sword (especially a steel katana which are heavier), or it may be easily knocked from your control by a parry from your opponent. So, try to find a good middle: not too strong and not too loose. Time and practice will help you find the correct strength for the grip. Also, important to remember is to keep your elbows in and not to let them flare to the sides. The blade should be pointing 45 degree up and to the rear. It may descend a bit to the rear in preparation for the strike but do not let the blade pass the horizontal line when above your head.

The primary Shomenuchi cut is then executed with the third step moving the Budoka forward into a right stance position. From the second step (left foot position) the Budoka must make an interpretation whether or not the cut is an offensive or defensive cut. If it is an offensive cut and the Budoka is charging the opponent then the cut is executed while stepping forward. If the cut is a defensive cut the the Budoka moves the left foot backwards while allowing the opponent to move forward into the downward cut of the blade.

When the kata (cut) is performed as an offensive technique the timing is typically Sen sen-no-sen or sen-no-sen (default). When the technique is completed as a defensive technique the timing is typically Go-no-Sen. Once the cut is completed the Budoka then completes the chiburi and noto.

Above you can see the same kata performed early morning at dawn next to the sea-side. It is important to practice your cuts at various times of the day and in different environments. If you only practice your sword techniques at 7 pm each time in the dojo then you will become expert at dojo kendo, dojo kenjutsu or dojo iaido. However, sword technique must be appreciated in varying environments so that you understand how the execution of the technique must change. For instance, the footing of the technique and the manner in which you move forward with your steps changes depending on the nature of the ground below you. Are you standing on a wood floor, soft gym floor, outside concrete, uneven foot path, the sand of a beach or on snow in a field. Depending on this your technique and naturally footwork will change. It will also change depending on the clothing you are wearing and the restrictions that those pieces of clothing place on your range of motion.