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Reiho & Gratitude

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

In a few of the earlier articles, we introduced Iaido practicum consists of mainly of Kihon and Wazas. This article aims to discuss about Reiho.

Reiho, is the action of performing a series of actions under the umbrella context of Dojo etiquette. Often, a causal observer's attention is drawn to the fluid motions of a Waza performance, or paired Katas. However, Reiho is equally, if not, far more important.

On the surface, Reiho seems to be just bowing as a form of respect. What more is there to it? Strip away the elegance of well trained motions, there is something at its core: the sense of gratitude.

A similar analogy would be a specific Waza and its Bukai (scenario and rationale). A Waza devoid of Bunkai (or lack of understanding thereof) is just empty actions. Bunkai gives meaning to the actions - why must certain motions be as such, what are the consequences if there are not followed. Basic bunkai is first introduced to beginners to let them know what is going on in a waza. As the beginner improves in the finesse of these motions, a deeper understanding of the bunkai is either learnt through self-discovery or added on by seniors and Senseis.

What about Reiho and the sense of gratitude? Gratitude brings meaning to the motions of Reiho. For example, bowing to each other signifies humility and a form of thanks to each other for a good practice. What about bowing to the iaito - an inanimate object? Some linked it to reverence regarding the status of the *sword in Japan culture (*one of three sacred treasures of Japan), and it is true to some extent. But surely there must be more... How about as a form of giving thanks to the iaito craftsman, for his craftsmanship? to one's environment and situation (Family, Dojo, etc.) to be able to learn and practice iai? Certainly, these do not seem too far fetched.

Certainly food for thought. So the next time one observes a Reiho in progress, look deeper. What do you observe?


With the new year, comes new year resolutions (or if one has not made any resolutions yet, don't fret, there's the CNY train to catch!) =)

Many venture to try and learn new things, and enjoy experiences as part of new year resolutions. Ultimately, it's about self-improvement and among the many new things to experience, Iaido might be one of them. If you are curious about or interested in Iaido, please feel free to write in to us via the message form at homepage or via email:

Till next time. Cheers.


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