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Touching Weapons

One of the strict rules of etiquette, courtesy, and safety is that you should not touch another person's weapon. This is particularly true of bladed weapons (obviously because of safety), but the rule applies to all weapons.

Once I observed an Iaido student from another dojo pick up an instructor's sword, remove it from its saya (sheath), and wave it around in the air. The instructor's face showed a combination of disbelief (that anyone would touch a weapon without permission), shock, and disgust. It was almost unreal to me too, as I could not believe that anyone would touch and use another's weapon in this manner. It reflected very poorly on the student, his instructor, and their dojo.

Do not touch another person's weapon unless you are given permisssion.

Generally, do not ask for permission. If someone wants you to touch their weapon, they will offer.

If someone does offer to allow you to touch their weapon, do so seriously and carefully. It is best to examine the weapon and return it. Do not use it unless you are encouraged to do so. If it breaks, are you willing to replace it?

The rules differ for instructors with respect their own students. An instructor will often touch and use a student's weapon to demonstrate a technique or proper usage. Students should not touch the instructor's or other student's weapons as set forth above.

Also, there are situations in which a pair of students will take turns with a weapon. Obviously, touching the weapon is allowed in this case.

In Iaido, I was told that it was serious offense to touch a samurai's sword. Even tapping saya was considered to be a challenge.

It is best to be especially careful to respect other people's weapons.


Charles C. Goodin