Practicing the movements of Iaido, the art of drawing the sword, traditionally involves a progression of weapons which gradually lead the swordsman to competence with a real blade. Iaito, like the Tsuru Iaito from CAS Hanwei, are the step below the real thing. Built to handle with the same feel and balance as a combat sword, the build is lighter by about a pound. The 400 alloy stainless steel used in the Tsuru isn’t sharpened and won’t hold a usable edge, but does let the student develop skill and strength without making any dangerous mistakes.
The Tsuru Iaito’s build includes genuine ray-skin handle wrapping bound with black silk and a wooden ray-skin covered scabbard. The sageo — a cord used to tie the sword to the belt — also is black silk. Metal fittings, including the habaki — the wedge shaped piece at the base of the blade which holds the sword in the sheath — are silver. The blade’s temper will withstand the stresses of practice but is not intended for striking. The Iaito sword’s intent is the perfection of movement. Less expensive versions often substitute aluminum for steel. Aluminum alloys will not withstand the stress of a full speed draw — the Tsuru Iaito stainless steel blade allows training at the proper speed.
With the look and feel of the real thing, the Tsuru Iaito qualifies for both display and for practice. Available in four lengths from 37.75 inches overall to 40.75 inches and a maximum weight of two pounds, there’s a Tsuru Iaito to fit everyone.
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