If you’re looking to explore the world of martial arts, there are many options for you. One popular route is the sword, and some of the most visually interesting and widely-practiced styles are Iaido and Battojutsu.

The major difference between the two swordsmanship martial arts lies in how to physically control the sword.

What Is Iaido?

Iaido is a Japanese martial art that focuses on maintaining a high sense of awareness and quickly drawing a sword in response to an attack.

Its emphasis is on the correctness of form, precision, and fluidity of movement. It is practiced as a solo kata and as a weapon-based combat system.

The sword was used in ancient times by the samurai, who were samurai trained to use and carry the katana, the emblematic Japanese sword.

What Is Battojutsu?

Battojutsu, also known as batto, is a traditional Japanese martial art that focuses on drawing, attacking, and cutting an enemy all in one motion.

The ultimate goal is to strike with complete surprise before the enemy even knows that a fight has started.

Differences between Iaido vs. Battojutsu

  • Iaido is much more focused on kata, or forms of pre-determined movements. Additionally, rote memorization is a large part of the tradition. Battojutsu focuses on fluidity and reacting to any situation that may come up. Much of it is based on intuitive movement rather than rote memorization or training in standstill contexts.
  • Two of the most important principles of Iaido are to not stop until you’ve finished your movement and to never take a step. This is because both of these actions can indicate that one is about to attack. Battojutsu, on the other hand, believes that in order to move forward with a strike, one must take at least one step.
  • Iaido uses a real blade similar to a katana, while Battojutsu uses only practice blades.
  • In Iaido, the main focus is on drawing and cutting with a single stroke. This is because Iaido focuses heavily on etiquette, even in combat. In Battojutsu, you can use many different strikes that all have different goals of what they accomplish, from damaging wounds to drawing blood.
  • In Iaido, it is always assumed that you are fighting more than one opponent, so footwork for evading strikes is also emphasized in this martial style. This means that Battojutsu doesn’t use footwork.
  • In Battojutsu, many techniques are based on the concept of surprise, speed, and power. Iaido uses many stances that would be unsuitable for combat.
  • In Iaido, there is a large emphasis on etiquette and the correct form to follow in order to perform as safely and accurately as possible. Battojutsu does not have any specific rules regarding etiquette.
  • Iaido does not rely on strength as it is focused on flowing movements. Battojutsu focuses more on using strength to be able to do damage to your opponent.
  • Iaido focuses greatly on the aesthetics of the art and strives for the perfect form. Battojutsu believes that the form should not be too repetitive or strict; otherwise, this limits you in real situations and makes you complacent.
DefinitionThe art of drawing, striking and resheathing a sword in one fluid motion.The art of drawing and cutting with a sword in one fluid motion.
FocusEmphasis on the spiritual and mental aspects of sword fighting.Emphasis on the technical and physical aspects of sword fighting.
TechniquesSlow, controlled movements.Faster, more powerful movements.
TrainingOften performed solo with a wooden sword (bokken) or a dull sword (iaito).Often performed with a partner using a sharp sword (shinken).
PurposeDevelops discipline, focus, and control.Develops speed, power, and precision.

Similarities between Iaido vs. Battojutsu

  • Both Iaido and Battojutsu are Japanese martial arts
  • Both arts focus on using a sword to defend against attacks.
  • The ultimate goal of Iaido and Battojutsu is to injure the enemy as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Iaido and Battojutsu separate students based on rank, with multiple levels up to the black belt.
  • Both arts emphasize the powerful execution of techniques in response to an attack.
  • Both arts focus on the fluidity of movement and rapid responses.
  • The main weapon used in both arts is the Japanese sword or katana.

What to choose?

Iaido is highly recommended as a starting point for martial arts. It teaches you mental awareness and the ability to react quickly, which greatly improves your ability to defend against any attack.

However, if you are interested in doing Battojutsu, then it is recommended that you practice with other types of bladed weapons before moving onto a “real” blade.


By studying either Iaido or Battojutsu, you’re choosing to study a martial art that has been around for hundreds of years and is still practiced today.

Both martial arts are great choices and provide different benefits depending on your interests. If you want to learn a traditional form of combat that focuses on precise, controlled movements, then Iaido is the route you should take.

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