New and prospective students need very little to get started. In fact, we highly recommend you NOT buy equipment before you make at least 5 classes and talk to a senior student first.
To get started we suggest wearing sweats and a t-shirt. If you own knee pads (such as worn in soccer and volley ball), bring those, too. We will provide the essentials you’ll need. When you do begin to purchase your own gear, talk to a senior student first for recommendations and guidance. We recommend acquiring gear in a specific order that both fits with cost as well as dojo policy and needs.
The Basics I
obi (belt) – This is the belt that holds the sword. Most colors are allowed except metallic, bright flashy colors (no hunter orange or camo patterns, sorry), and men are prohibited from wearing red. That color is reserved exclusively for women. Be sure to discuss your choice of obi with a sempai BEFORE buying one.
zori (sandals) – Starting out, flip flops will get you by for a while. Before going to grade or taikai you will need a particular type of zori.
oil bottle – It may seem odd to have your own oil bottle before having your own sword, but it’s not that weird. Having your own bottle makes pre-class preparation go much smoother. We have bottles you can buy from the dojo at far cheaper prices than you’ll find online.
The Basics II
dogi (practice uniform) – A proper dogi is a white uagi (jacket) and juban (under “shirt”), and black hakama (pleated pants). These can be bought in a set.
tabi (split-toe socks). You are allowed to acquire tabi only after learning the yaegaki waza. This is to force you to develop proper foot work. Tabi must be white, and you’ll want two pair.
nafuda (name tag) – All Seishikan members wear a name tag during large group training, demos, when visiting a sister dojo, grading, and taikai. We will provide one for you when you become a full member of Seishinkan.
After buying all the basics, it’s time to make the big purchase, you’r own sword. We’ll help you select one, making sure the length of the blade and handle are right for you. This will be your last regular purchase, and should be given proper time and consideration before doing so. We suggest buying the best iaito you can afford, as you’ll be using it for years. Again, consult with a dojo senior before any purchase. When you do order your iaito, be sure to include a carry bag and koiguchikan.
While the above is the main gear you’ll need, you may find you need or want a few more items. The following are some things you may find you need or may want to expand your practice.
repair kit – While there are certainly members in the dojo who are experienced in tightening a loose tsuba, you may decide to do your own repairs. Repair kits are fairly inexpensive, and you may want to add one (or at least a mekuciuchi) when you purchase your iaito.
case – When traveling, especially flying, you will need to place your iaito in a secure case, like you would for a rifle.
antique parts – It’s not uncommon for iaidoka to replace their tsuba and other sword fittings with higher end, even antique ones. Be cautious if doing so and discuss it with a senior member beforehand. There can be complications. That said, customizing your sword to best fit you is a long standing tradition, and can be great (and expensive) fun.
the back uagi – When you reach the rank of sandan, you are permitted to wear a black uagi instead of the white one.