This document is just to acquaint you with all of the “political” affiliations that your dojo is involved with.
Our school is a member of the Pacific Northwest Kendo Federation (PNKF) which also affiliates us with the All United States Kendo Federation (AUSKF). Besides Kendo, Iaido (and now, jodo) is also taught by AUSKF using the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (ZNKR or All Japan Kendo Federation) curriculum. This curriculum is referred to as ZNKR Iaido, ZNKR Seitei Iaido or simply Seitei Iai.
Seitei iai consists of twelve set techniques referred to as kata. These techniques have been standardized by the ZNKR and they are trying to make this curriculum the world-wide “gold standard”. Currently, any school that’s associated with the ZNKR through their parent Federation will teach Seitei iai in a mostly uniform fashion world-wide.
AUSKF has been participating in this standardization process by bringing extremely senior Sensei from Japan for our Annual National Seminar, Taikai and Shinsa (competition and testing). Basically, this translates into the fact that if you’re traveling around the country (and to a certain extent, the rest of the world) to a school or seminar associated with AUSKF or ZNKR, you’ll be learning the same iai. No fuss, no confusion. Most people you meet of a certain rank will have a fairly predictable level of expertise.
Seitei is what your grading criteria will be as you advance in Iaido until you reach the higher levels.
All of the Seitei iai techniques are derived from various Koryu (Old Schools) of Japanese Iaido. Most, if not all, schools also teach some specific Koryu iai in addition to the Seitei curriculum. Each of the Koryu have various differences between them that isn’t only limited to techniques of swordsmanship. Some other differences include methods of tying their sageo, location of the sword in the obi and performing noto and Reiho.
If you study long enough, you’ll be introduced to Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu (MJER or Eishin Ryu). MJER is one of the two most common forms of Iaido being studied today (Shinden Ryu is the other and is usually considered a cousin of MJER).
My credentials come from over 25 years of study at the Ken Zen Institute in New York City under Pam Parker Sensei. I currently hold the rank of Godan.