Brisbane Sword-arts

The study of Traditional Japanese swordsmanship is usually associated with Kendo and Iaido. Iaido is predominately a kata-based art: practitioners learn solo kata (forms) using traditional swords.  It is however difficult to practice combat techniques with a partner because of the danger involved in using these swords - which are sometimes sharp.  Thus Kendo is often studied as well, where swords are replaced by shinai, replicas made of bamboo strips, together with some protective armour.  In this way, striking techniques and combat simulation can be practiced.  It is a compromise though as the bamboo shinai aren't weighted the same as a sword and is competition or point sparring based.

Western fencing schools practice with the sabre, epee and foil.  Today this is an Olympic sport with very strict rules on when you can and can't strike (e.g. arm must be fully extended).  These rules have evolved to make safe a kind of dueling practice, but some feel it has lost its martial flavour because of this.  Traditional Japanese schools of the martial arts (the koryu arts) use the bokken (a wooden sword equivalent) in paired training with set moves.  This offers the chance to practice techniques with a partner.  

As a kind of compromise of the above, Aikido, which has its roots in the koryu arts offers a chance to practice sword kata of Iaido, paired practice with set moves as well as practicing open-hand techniques against the sword.  

Aikido doesn't have competitions as the founder felt this didn't encourage a peaceful mind.  Aikido open-hand techniques are based on the mindset and movements of the swordsman but with compassion that subdues the opponent peacefully. If you're interested in studying traditional Japanese weapons, Aikido offers the opportunity to study aikiken (Aikido sword), aikijo (Aikido staff) and open-hand techniques in a cooperative atmosphere. See Aikido Classes