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eonblue
30th January 2004, 14:21
What kind of care is required with an iaito? Cleaning, etc... Just curious, I only started practicing iaido 4 monthes ago, for future reference. Seeing as the blade is a zinc/aluminum alloy does it need the same care as would a shinken?

Diane Mirro
30th January 2004, 14:46
Generally, wiping it down with a soft cloth--old cotton T-shirt or such--and then coating it with a VERY THIN layer of oil--pure mineral or the traditional choji oil from Japan are fine, as are a selection of others listed in previous threads on the subject. Do this after every time you practice, and you are less likely to "feel the burn" of the blade chafing your left hand on noto or batto. It will also provide a light coating for the inside of the saya, making these movements smoother. And it is a good habit to develop for that long-off day when you start working with a shinken...

Two big DO NOTS:

DO NOT use uchiko on nonsteel blades. Uchiko is the giant red or white Tootsie-pop looking thingy (sorry folks, it's Friday AM and I'm giddy) that comes in most sword cleaning kits. It is a cloth-covered bag of the powdered remnants of sword polishing stones. This powder is a mild abrasive and will remove the finish from your alloy iaito.

DO NOT use too much oil. It will gunk up the inside of your saya, resulting in wood rot, mold, decay, infections, and all sorts of nasty critters creeping out of the koiguchi when you are not looking. (Okay, I exaggerate a tad.) In reality, the blade of the iaito does not need to be oiled at all--we do it for ease of batto and noto.

Steel swords need to be oiled on a regular basis (and especially after every usage) or they will start to corrode or rust. Not everyone uses the uchiko on them, but I (and many of us sentimentalists) do: powder the sword, wipe off with a soft cloth, put on a light coat of oil. Again, not too much or the saya will suffer and the blade will be no better off. Also, regularly pound the saya koiguchi-side down on the floor (NOT concrete, of course!) to remove any accumulated wood shavings or splinters--these will congregate at the kojiri end of the saya and plot to kick the blade out, if you are not careful...

Iron Chef
30th January 2004, 16:15
Originally posted by Diane Mirro
....
DO NOT use uchiko on nonsteel blades. Uchiko is the giant red or white Tootsie-pop looking thingy (sorry folks, it's Friday AM and I'm giddy) that comes in most sword cleaning kits. It is a cloth-covered bag of the powdered remnants of sword polishing stones. This powder is a mild abrasive and will remove the finish from your alloy iaito....

Everything you wrote is correct.

FWIW, Suzuki Sensei taught us and other Japanese teachers I have been told teach to use uchiko on Iaito. I assume it is because he views an Iaito as a tool to be used in order to learn how to operate a steel sword. So maybe using uchiko is OK in this regard. Maybe the other reason is that old Senseis just don't understand the differences between alloy and steel and don't know better. I'm not sure and I am not going to make that any judgementent calls in that regard. We use Uchiko on Iaito because Sensei says so but it will scratch the skin. But maybe everything is geared toward learning to use a real sword one day.

The only purpose to this post is to warn you that you may be instructed to use Uchiko on your Iaito by your sensei. If you are then I would do what he says. Otherwise if sword care is not part of your class then I would listen to everything Dr. Mirro says.

Have a good weekend.

eonblue
2nd February 2004, 02:24
Thanks for the info guys. I'll ask my sensei his views on caring for iaitos after the next class.. just had a thought and couldn't wait over the weekend for answer (I'd probably forget it).