History of Iaido Summer Camp and Shinsa

History of the AUSKF Iaido Summer Camp and the United States Iaido Championship

Iaido training at the national level had not been organized and sponsored by a national governing body until 1994. It was under the Kendo Federation of the United States of America (KFUSA) that the first iaido seminar was organized and took place in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The event took place in May in conjunction with a kendo competition and workshop. The iaido seminar saw 21 participants, and focused on basic instruction. The first KFUSA iaido promotional examinations were held at the end with 11 iaido practitioners challenging for ranks from 3 kyu to 4 dan. There was no iaido competition at this event.

The following year, 1995, the KFUSA helped sponsor a second seminar in New York City, which drew 40-plus participants. This seminar included a competition with three divisions: 3 dan and up, 1 and 2 dan, 1st kyu and below. Although this event took place under the banner of the KFUSA it is recognized as the first national iaido championship. The perpetual trophy from this event, the Nakanishi Cup, donated by Nakanishi Yasushi Sensei, was carried forward as the top perpetual trophy until 2013 when it was retired in lieu of the elevation of the Yamaguchi Cup in memory of the late Yamaguchi Takeshi Sensei, the principal proponent of iaido in America.

Later this same year, the KFUSA evolved into the All United States Kendo Federation (AUSKF), thus the KFUSA-lead iaido efforts were passed to the newly formed AUSKF and its Iaido Committee. The first chairman of the committee was Mark Uchida, who was also the first AUSKF Vice-President of Education, and who had organized the first iaido seminar in 1994.

The selected host for the first AUSKF Iaido Summer Camp failed to forward efforts sufficiently to hold the camp in 1996; therefore, alternate plans were implemented and in July 1997, the AUSKF held its first summer camp in Colorado Springs. The iaido camp was held the 12th-15th and was followed by the kendo camp on July 17-20. The summer camp drew participants form across the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and even South Africa. The iaido portion of the camp saw 127 participants. Since the original intent of the summer camps was to be a train-the-trainers camp where iaido and kendo practitioners holding upper dan ranks could come to develop their technical skills and receive instruction on teaching methods and philosophies. It was later decided that the camp should be open to all AUSKF members and focus on basic instruction and skill refinement. For this reason, there was no iaido competition at this event.

After Uchida Sensei’s term in office as Vice-President of Education was over, the reins of the iaido committee were passed to Yamaguchi Takeshi, a post he held until his passing in October 2012. It was in 1998 during Yamaguchi Sensei’s first year as the Iaido Committee Chairman that the AUSKF held in Dallas, Texas the second Iaido Summer Camp and its first United States Iaido Championship.

Since then, the AUSKF Iaido Summer Camps have included a national competition, with an exception occurring in August 2003 in San Jose, California, when the emphasis was once again placed on instruction and, therefore, no competition was held.


- Colorado Springs, Colorado, July 12-15, 1997 (no competition)

- Dallas, Texas, July 30-August 2, 1998

- Memphis, Tennessee, September 4-6, 1999

- New York, New York, July 1-3, 2000

- McMinnville, Oregon, June 29-July 2, 2001

- Renton, Washington, September 20-22, 2002

- San Jose, California, August 30-31, 2003 (no competition)

- Boulder, Colorado, June 10-13, 2004

- Torrance, California, September 29-October 2, 2005

- Cincinnati, Ohio, September 28-October 1, 2006

- Council Bluffs, Iowa, July 26-29, 2007

- Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, June 5-8, 2008

- Boise, Idaho, June 18-21, 2009

- San Antonio, Texas, June 10-13, 2010

- Kent, Ohio, June 9-12, 2011

- Tacoma, Washington, June 21-24, 2012

- Council Bluffs, Iowa, June 27-30, 2013

- New York, New York, June 12-16, 2014

In November 2012, Kato Shozo was appointed as the interim chairman of the Iaido Committee. Earlier the same year, Kato Sensei, as the Vice-President of Education, organized the first iaido education tour featuring Kishimoto Chihiro Sensei, Iaido Hanshi 8 Dan, Kendo Kyoshi 7 Dan, Jodo Kyoshi 7 Dan. From February 1st to 11th, Kishimoto Sensei traveled to 6 cities across the United States conducting workshops at each location to further promote iaido and reinforce instruction given at past AUSKF Summer Camps.

With the continued growing interest in iaido across the country, the AUSKF iaido programs will continue and grow.