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Iaijutsu Practitioner

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"Swords are made to return to their scabbards."
Uesugi Kenshin describes this technique, Sengoku Basara Battle Heroes

Katanas Are Just Better, or so they say. Slightly less well-known is that the Quick Draw is pretty damn awesome in its own way. If you find a person who is good at combining them, then you have an Iaijutsu Practitioner.

Iaijutsu is a catch-all name for several martial art schools which center on drawing and attacking in one move. The technique often includes multiple slashes, swiping the blade off, and the subsequent re-sheathing of the blade. The names Battoujutsu and Iaido are often used interchangeably, although the words have nuances in the Japanese language.

Although usually associated with Japanese swordsmanship, there are similar western versions for cavalry sabers. Another variant dates back to Italian swordmaster Fiore de'i Liberi, who taught swordsmen how to block weapons with a sheathed sword and then dual wield the scabbard and blade for powerful combo attacks.


The use of a weaponized draw makes sense if a character is attacked by surprise, or if he avoids drawing his sword until the opponent attacks so he can claim self-defense. Rule of Cool kicks in if a swordsman refuses to draw his sword ahead of time in open battle, since the sword can be used more quickly and in a greater number of ways if it’s already drawn. Even sillier is when an Iaijutsu practitioner goes through a battle repeatedly sheathing his sword so that he can use the cut from the scabbard on every single enemy, despite this being a huge waste of effort and dangerously predictable. That could be justified, however, if the scabbard has some special ability to charge up the sword with energy, or increase the power of the cut by shooting the blade out at high speed.

Users of this trope can often create Sword Beams, or just strike and re-sheathe so fast that it looks like a Sword Beam.


See also: Quick Draw, Single-Stroke Battle, One-Hit Kill.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Pictured above: The sword style of Kenshin Himura and his master, Seijuro Hiko XIII, from Rurouni Kenshin focuses on this. Although an all-around Master Swordsman, Kenshin was called "Hitokiri Battousai" (Quick-Draw Assassin; the Japanese characters literally read "Man-killing Sword-drawing-purification", if that is any indication of how far one should stay away from Kenshin when he's angry) during the Bakumatsu period by being just that good at battoujutsu and is occasionally referred to as "Himura Battousai" afterwards. Their Hiten Mitsurugi Style pointedly incorporates the scabbard into nearly all its iai moves: in the first one introduced, Kenshin's opponent Udo Jin-e barely dodges the katana slash but is done in by the following Sheath Strike, which shatters his elbow.
  • Aldebaran from Saint Seiya does this with his bare fists. He keeps his arms crossed across his chest when he is facing an adversary, and then he whips them out with such strength and speed his enemy has been crushed on the ground or thrown through several walls before even realizing what has happened. When Seiya fights him, Marin (Seiya's master) blatantly tells him Aldebaran's technique uses the same principle than a Iaijutsu Practitioner.
  • In the opening credits of Samurai Champloo, we see Jin practicing Iaijutsu. The series' Big Bad also gets a little of it in, but by and large he calmly draws his sword and lets his opponents do the same before fighting.
  • One Piece:
    • Some of Zoro's most powerful attacks are iaido, such as Shishi Sonson and Rashomon, the latter of which uses two swords.
    • And later, this is clearly seen in the signature move of Brook, whose sword is so fast that it looks like Brook was just walking past the enemy, before they get all cut up when he stops walking. While humming. Although it is possible that it was the sword doing the humming just because it was being swung around so fast.
  • Honoka from The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye fights primarily with Iaijutsu, enhanced with Chi for more cutting power.
  • Subverted in Bleach anime episodes 136-137. An arrancar named Patros always sheathes his sword after using it to send out a blast of power. He's just showing off his iajutsu skills, right? Nope. Urahara's mod souls figure out that he has to resheathe his sword after every blast in order to recharge it, and they render him helpless by preventing him from doing so.
    • Played straight earlier in the Soul Society arc. Head-Captain Yamamoto prepares to battle Captains Kyoraku Shunsui and Ukitake Jushiro. In this case, it's a battle of who can do this first. Yamamoto wins and unleashes a Sword Beam which blows them back.
    • Played straight even earlier than that when Byakuya pulls this off twice in combination with his Flash Step, once to cut off the blade of Ichigo's sword, and agian when he stabs Ichigo to remove the powers he borrowed from Rukia. Renji, who is at this point more experienced at following high-speed movement, is barely able to follow the second attack, but can't even see the first one at all. Ichigo on the other hand has absolutely no idea what happened.
    • Isshin Kurosaki uses this style to kill Grand Fisher in one strike.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, at least when he's asleep, Zenitsu can draw his sword, slice, and sheathe it so fast that you can barely even see it leave the scabbard, as seen during his "fight" against the tongue demon: one moment, Zenitsu's hand slightly twitches and exposes only a tiny bit of the blade, the very next instant, the demon's tongue is already severed. He then finishes things off by combining this with a Flash Step to decapitate his foe.
  • Setsuna from Mahou Sensei Negima! uses magic to make iai attacks with a nodachi (like a katana, but bigger, made for cavalry) several times, starting in chapter 28. Takamichi also uses what is called "iaiken"; in other words, pulling his fist out of his pocket, attacking and putting it back so fast it looks like he's just standing there. And he can use it to create Fist Beams. Lost in Translation: "Ken" can mean both "sword" and "fist" in Japanese. This is a pun.
  • Katanas in Ga-Rei and Ga-Rei -Zero- are typically used this way in combat. Kagura's (and later Kensuke's) "Michael" katanas actually use pneumatic pressure inside the sheath to increase cutting force when using these technique.
  • Some duels in the manga version of Lone Wolf and Cub are between two of this type; which leads to several pages worth of Beat Panels as they wait for the most advantagious moment to draw.
  • Kamui Den: Matsubayashi Kenpu. Kamui himself also counts: his signature "kasumi-giri" technique involves some unorthodox sword drawing
  • In Claymore the Quicksword and Wind Cutter techniques are similar examples of invisibly fast Blade Spam iaijutsu. Ilena, the creator of the Quicksword technique, is so skilled at its use that she can block attacks "undetected"; that is, her arm moves at such a speed that it looks like any attack against her is hitting some kind of invisible barrier rather than her sword, which is being drawn, used, and sheathed so quickly that literally no motion is detected.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
    • Signum uses a few iaijutsu techniques in her battles, though she wields a broadsword rather than a katana. And while she uses the techniques, her actual fighting style is much more varied. There's also her Flying Dragon Flash technique, a variant that has her transforming her sword in the middle of the sword draw so it comes out as a flaming Whip Sword heading straight towards her opponent.
    • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid introduces Micaiah Chevelle, who specializes in this. This makes her a Fragile Speedster Glass Cannon who can deliver speedy One Hit KOs against anyone unprepared, but who has trouble against opponents who can slip past her blade and pummel her nigh-defenseless form.
  • Used in one of the strongest spells of Earth from Zatch Bell!.
  • Fürher King Bradley aka the homunculus Wrath from Fullmetal Alchemist can do it so fast you can't even see it.
  • Goemon of Lupin III has trained in many fighting styles, but uses primarily a form of Iaijutsu. Referenced in Lupin III: Stolen Lupin, where Goemon's Rival for the special points out that Goemon's style requires him to draw and sheath his sword to be the most effective.
  • Mifune from Naruto is shown to be a master of Iai and fast enough with it to interrupt ninjas from forming hand-seals.
    • Hanzo, one of the most powerful ninjas in the world even says that hand seals are pointless against Mifune because he's so fast with that Quick Draw.
  • Uneri Ginkaku from Katanagatari specializes in iaijutsu, which is enhanced by his demonic blade Namakura, allowing him to strike five times a second.
  • In Dragon Ball, Yajirobe ends his fight with Cymbal by using iaijutsu.
  • Vralgo Kentauri from The Five Star Stories is a respected iaido master, demonstrated most dramatically when he nearly kills a young King Colus III in a flashback scene.
  • The villain Ikaruga from Fairy Tail combines this with Razor Wind to slash her opponents to pieces without taking a single step. She can draw and resheathe her sword so fast that even Erza can't follow it.
  • Kanzaki Kaori from A Certain Magical Index fakes iaido when performing her nanasen technique. While her opponent tries to track her drawing her sword, they are distracted from the real attack: Razor Wire that she controls like a marionette. She actually can perform iaido, but doesn't do it very often.
  • Amidamaru and Yoh of Shaman King does something like this with the Shinkuu Buddha Giri technique in which they draw the Harusame so fast they create a projectile of razor sharp wind.
  • Samurai Deeper Kyo has a variant called "hien ken" which crosses this trope with Blade Spam (draw sword and strike three times in an eyeblink). One of Kyo's early opponents is a practitioner, but Kyo beats him at his own game.
  • Onimaru's Yoko Ichimoji's technique from Yaiba combines this with Razor Wind to increase the range. Later, Yaiba manages to master the technique.
  • Several characters from Gamaran. Most noticeably, the Kannari Ryu (one of the oldest and strongest) is all about iaijutsu. Other swordsmen (Gama, Iori and Shinnojo) are frequently shown using these attacks in battle, along with the other techniques.
  • Inuyasha: Sesshomaru usually doesn't draw his sword unless he can pull this off. As the story's resident Master Swordsman, when he meets someone he cannot do this to (his brother and the Big Bad are the only two), you know the fight just went up a level.
  • Sayaka Miki gains this ability in Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion, doing tricks like slashing through Homura's bonds and then sheathing her sword in a split second.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: Shishiwakamaru is one. Though he will sometimes take several swipes at a time with his sword, he returns it to its sheathe after each combo if not after each strike.
  • Guts' Dragonslayer is between six and seven feet long, a foot wide, and he carries it on his back. Many a mook has thought it used to protect his back at best, not seeing how it could be grabbed, drawn (one-handed) and and swung, in less than a second.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the card Slash Draw (One-Strike Kill! Sword Draw in the Japanese version) shows a picture of a samurai crouching and about to draw his sword. If it is used correctly, its effect can defeat the opponent in a single turn.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, whenever Chojiro Tokumatsu is about to draw a card, he goes into an iaido stance, which others comment on. He draws his cards so powerfully it makes a gust of wind.
  • Parodied with Saya in Keijo!!!!!!!!, who uses her bikini top as a sheath in order to pull off iaijutsu strikes with her breasts.
  • In Chivalry of a Failed Knight, Touka Toudou's ultimate attack, Raikiri, uses her power over electricity and magnetism to accelerate her sword draw. It's so powerful that it can destroy a massive wall of ice.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Kii Kagerou, and how! His draw is characterized in-series as "supersonic," and he can draw and resheathe multiple times faster than the untrained eye (or rather, Kenichi's eye, which is not entirely untrained by that point) can see.
  • Supernatural example in Ushio and Tora: Shinno, the leader of the Western Monsters, uses this style not with a katana but rather with a massive, double-edged broadsword. What's more, said giant sword, called "Rubashiri", is normally invisible when "sheated", appearing in sight only when "draw".
  • How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord: Chester Ray Galford is so fast that when Alicia tries to threaten him with her sword, he slices it in half in a split second. Only Diablo is fast enough to barely track him drawing his sword, slicing Alicia's sword, then sheathing his sword.
  • The Asterisk War: In volume 6 (anime episode 2x12), Kirin Toudou uses an iaijutsu move combining sword and sheath straight out of Rurouni Kenshin to defeat a group of skeleton warriors summoned by Psycho for Hire Gustave Malraux, before knocking him unconscious with the blunt side of her katana.

    Fan Works 
  • In Winter War, Shirogane is an expert in iaido. She gives Isane a quick lesson in the basics- it doesn't make Isane an Instant Expert, but it does shake her out of her depression to the point where she can play a useful role in the battle.
  • The Rex Duodecim Angelus fan-animation has (legaly-)Blind Weaponmaster Terezi demonstrate this technique with her dual Sword Cane against the tentacles of the Black King. An interesting variation in that each sword is sheathed in the part of the cane that functions as the handle of the other, thus allowing her to make the standard (and cool) motion of gripping the sheathe to draw while still leaving her holding both swords once she's done so.
  • In the Naruto fanfiction Sugar Plums the main character Ume uses this sword style to compliment her status as a Fragile Speedster.
  • Tales of the Undiscovered Swords: Sasanoyuki's being an uchigatana makes him perfect for the art. Since he places importance on efficiency, he's prone to fast-drawing in even the most unnecessary situations, like when making paper snowflakes and chopping cabbages. At his most badass, he can behead an entire group of Kebiishi in one draw without his blade being visible.
  • In Truth And Consequences, Chat Noir receives Fang, a magic katana that is always sharpest the moment it's drawn.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Zatoichi the blind swordsman tends to use his Sword Cane in this way, either for one-hit kills or intimidation demonstrations. One example of the latter: he throws a single die into a long-necked bottle being held by a mook. While the mook is still holding the bottle, Zatoichi whips out the sword, slashes, and slips it back into the scabbard. The bottom of the bottle fell apart, and so does the die inside.
  • Terry Tsurugi fights a guy who looks like a cross between Zatoichi and Frankenstein's Monster in The Street Fighter. He's blind and resheathes between strikes.
  • You Only Live Twice. While James Bond is attending a ninja school we see a martial arts expert do a fast draw, pretend to slice up several students and then sheath his sword just as quickly.
  • An example with a Chinese sword instead of a Japanese katana, Fatal Move have Wu Jing's character, a triad enforcer who uses a Jian as his Weapon of Choice, which he can draw, slice up enemies, and sheathe in seconds. In one scene a triad boss with two bodyguards tries intimidating him, but in four seconds he whipped out his weapon, slashed the throats of both bodyguards, hack off the triad boss' arm which is in the middle of drawing a pistol, and re-sheathes his weapon.
  • Star Wars:
    • The series being heavily inspired by Akira Kurosawa movies, it is no suprise that Obi-Wan shows this skill in the cantina scene in A New Hope, in what is in fact the first scene ever of a lightsaber used in combat. It is after all "an elegant weapon for a more civilized age".
    • It is revisited, a few years later... or earlier, actually, in Episode II. Obi Wan is "having a drink" at the bar of a club, luring his target, a female shape-shifting assassin into a false sense of security. When she comes in for the kill, Obi Wan turns around and in a split second disarms her — quite literally — with his lightsaber.
  • The title character of Captain Kronos-Vampire Hunter, notably in the bar fight. He draws his katana, strikes twice, and sheathes it, all in under two seconds. It takes longer for his three opponents to realize that they're dead than it took for him to kill them.
  • Yukio from The Wolverine. We barely see her unsheathe her sword and then the sword's already back on sheath. Cue sliced objects collapsing.
  • Mako Mori does this in her sparring match with Raleigh Becket in Pacific Rim. She wields a quarterstaff instead of a sword, but the move set is clearly identifiable, including "re-sheating" the staff on her hip after every round. Also an example of The Cast ShowoffRinko Kikuchi is a known practitioner of the art in Real Life.

  • This is one of the special skills on offer in the Fighting Fantasy book Sword of the Samurai. It has the result that the player will automatically hit their opponent in the first round of combat and do 3 (rather than the usual 2) points of stamina damage. In one battle can be used for a crowning moment of awesome; your opponent takes massive damage and is weakened by their arm being crippled. And that's because he used it to block a one-hit-kill decapitation...

  • Star Wars Legends (i.e. the pre-The Force Awakens Expanded Universe) has Trakata, which is this style applied to lightsabers. Its point is to activate a lightsaber quickly when it's needed to deal an unblockable blow and then turn it off. It also takes advantage of the unique lightsaber feature that the blade can be triggered or extinguished at any point. So a Jedi using trakata can swing at an opponent and switch the saber on and off with perfect timing to pass through an opponent's defense unhindered.
  • In Sword Art Online "Iai" is the ultimate katana-class Sword Skill, and one of the few high-level attacks to rely on a single powerful strike rather than a chain of weaker ones. One of Aincrad's unreleased Unique Skills was "Battoujutsu", which presumably specialises in this trope.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Genta Umemori, ShinkenGold of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, mastered this way of fighting — self-taught with a Reverse Grip no less. The same goes for his counterpart Antonio of Power Rangers Samurai. It's taken Up to Eleven here: his quickdraw ability is such that by resheathing his sword after each strike, he is able to spam it, making a dozen strikes before he even appears to have done anything.
  • In Heroes, Future Hiro is a Battoujutsu master.
  • In the infamous NCIS episode "The Immortals", the Victim of the Week is found to have been teaching himself swordsmanship using a book on Iaido... for use with his straight-bladed Navy officer's sword.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, the Kakita family of the Crane is incredibly skilled at iaijutsu dueling; the family's namesake is widely considered the first Emerald Champion, and the position fills its vacancy through an iaijutsu dueling tournament.
    • Duels between bushi in Rokugan almost always take the form of iaijutsu, mostly thanks to Crane Clan influence in Imperial culture. They're usually only to first blood, though—one has to have special dispensation from one's lord in order to have a full-blown Duel to the Death.
  • Exalted has a fairly potent Terrestrial Martial Art that is basically focused around this sort of thing: Even Blade Style.
    • The capstone Charm of Master Zu Rat Te's variant is perhaps the ultimate version of it - Impossible Unseen Strike is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin, an attack that is so supernaturally fast and precise that nobody even notices it until the target's bleeding, the attacker never seeming to move an inch.
    • 3rd Edition has now introduced Single Point Shining Into the Void Style, which explicitly mentions that it is customary for practitioners fighting with the style's form Charm active to sheathe their sword after each strike and then draw it again for the next.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • 1st Edition Oriental Adventures had the Iaijutsu proficiency, which allowed automatic and instant drawing or sheathing of your weapon.
    • 3.0 has the "Iaijutsu Focus" skill from Oriental Adventures (a supplement created after Wizards bought the rights to Legend of the Five Rings) that gives you bonus damage when you strike after drawing your weapon but is only a class skill for some rather poor classes. There is also an "Iaijutsu Master" Prestige Class which grants additional benefits when using Iaijutsu Focus with a katana.
    • From edition 3.5:
      • The Samurai class from Complete Warrior has a class feature called "Iaijutsu", which grants the Quick Draw feat and a bonus to Initiative.
      • The "Mercurial Strike" feat from Dragon Magazine allows you to draw a melee weapon as part of making an attack of opportunity, as long as you were previously unarmed. When you do, the speed of your attack catches your opponent flat-footed (which among other things allows rogues to treat the attack as a sneak attack).
      • While no 3.5 classes list 3.0's Iaijutsu Focus as a class skill, it is still legal material, thus making it popular in builds for the Factotum (a class that gets every skill as a class skill) — this includes specialists in the gnome quickrazor (a Hidden Blade-like weapon that sheaths itself after every attack), as well as builds that multiclass into Master Thrower and Bloodstorm Blade in order to use katanas as projectiles.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The Sword Saint is an archetype for the Samurai class, trading its usual mount and banner abilities for an entire tree of Quick Draw skills. By level 14 a Sword Saint's quick draw stacks a ton of bonus damage onto its target, scares the tar out of nearby enemies and causes a sonic boom that deafens enemies.
    • The Path of War 3rd party supplement has the Mithral Current discipline, which gives many of its moves a bonus if the person draws a weapon as part of doing it, explaining this feature as "The Fine Art of Iaijutsu". The Bushi class template specializes in Mithral Current, and grants the ability to recover one of your maneuvers whenever you sheathe a weapon.

    Video Games 
  • The League of Legends champion Yasuo, the Unforgiven, toys with this trope. In addition to returning it to the sheath, he also enjoys posing with the blade in one hand and the sheath in the other.
  • Spoofed in Kirby Super Star, where the "Samurai Kirby" Mini-Game is based around a Iaijutsu duel against Waddle Dee, King Dedede, and the deadliest of all, Meta-Knight. The duels are fought with paper fans, mallets, and pies.
  • Some Laser Blade wielding characters from the Mega Man games (Most notably Zero) sheathe their weapons after every attack.
    • The Iai Form chip (Known as Slasher in the US version) in the Mega Man Battle Network series invokes this, making MegaMan pause for as long as the A button is held, during which time he'll instantly slash the first enemy foolish enough to enter his side of the field.
    • Street Fighter X Mega Man has a very annoying Mook that uses this in Ryu's stage. The only time you can attack it is when it stops spinning its sword to get ready to attack (not during the attack itself).
  • In the Soul Series:
    • Setsuka keeps a sword inside of her umbrella, and has many iaijutsu-type moves.
    • Mitsurugi sheathes his sword when he enters his "Relic" stance, and from this stance can perform some of his most powerful moves. This was removed from his move set in Soul Calibur V, though.
    • After IV, Setsuka moves to Istanbul and renames herself Neve. There she gives fighting lessons to orphans, including Sophitia's son Patrokolos, explaining why Alpha Patrokolos uses a similar fighting style.
  • Uesugi Kenshin from Sengoku Basara (or Frost in Devil Kings). He's also get ice powers. The later games emphasize his speed by giving him a Bullet Time mode that he activates simply by attacking enemies really quickly.
    • Matsu in the first game, due to sharing the same moveset with Kenshin before Divergent Character Evolution kicked in.
    • And in the series' later iteration, the new iaijutsu character in town is Ishida Mitsunari, who is so fast at drawing and re-sheathing his sword that the blade turns invisible for a moment. If he re-sheathes his sword at the end of his combo, it even adds in an extra hit.
  • You play as one in Sakura Samurai.
  • The title character of _iCEY._ fights this way, with her most notable attack being a charged screen-killing move.
  • Gegaro, of Bushido Blade, has several iaijutsu-type moves.
  • In Bayonetta, the Shuraba allows you to perform this.
  • Ukyo Tachibana, of Samurai Shodown.
    • Yumeji Kurokouchi, when he/she isn't Power Copying other characters' techniques, fights with a carbon copy of Ukyo's iaijutsu style. According to canon, Yumeji trained under Ukyo's old master, resulting in the similarity.
    • Another character from the series who uses such techniques is Yoshitora Tokugawa. His badassery is compounded by the fact that not only does he sheath his swords in between attacks, but he fights with seven of them at the same time.
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade has Quick Draw attacks: if you wait long enough before switching swords (the amount of time required can be reduced by collecting souls and possibly by getting hit a lot), their icons will flash and switching to another one will hit every enemy on the screen for large amounts of damage.
  • Jin Kisaragi from BlazBlue uses this style frequently.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link can learn the "Mortal Draw" technique (though it uses a Western sword instead of a katana). It requires him to keep his sword sheathed while moving close to the enemy without Z-Targeting, then draw it with the perfect timing, but will One-Hit Kill pretty much anything that isn't a boss (and severely damage anything that is) if executed correctly. If he returns it to the sheath just after, he uses the same flourish as after killing a boss.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, performing a charged attack while wielding a katana-type sword (such as the Eightfold Blade or the Windcleaver) will have Link perform a single powerful slash with the weapon from its sheath, rather than a Spin Attack like with other sword types. It isn't any more significantly powerful than a charged attack from any other weapon of similar power, however.
    • Impa from Dynasty Warriors-esque Hyrule Warriors carries a large sword, keeping it sheathed in between attacks. Her intro cutscene involves her meditating in front of three swinging pendulums, waiting for them to line up, and slashing them in one swipe without her sword visibly out of its sheathe. Her Focus Spirit finisher attack has her unsheathe her blade, swing it to send out a large sword beam, and then sheath it. The sword beam doesn't detonate until the blade is sheathed.
  • Hibiki from The Last Blade series fights using this style, even though her disposition is warm and cheerful (usually...).
    • Moriya, from the same series, has a handful of special moves that require him to sheath his sword. While he's not a pure iaijutsu stylist, his character definitely fits the Blue Oni bill, complete with a Red Oni nemesis, so he deserves a spot on this list regardless.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Ghi Yeghi, and to that extent all Parivirs, in Final Fantasy Tactics A2. It takes the trope rather seriously in a sense, since the actual skill Parivirs can learn - which is aptly named the Iai Blow - is explained quite well in-game (specifically saying that the skill sheathes and draws the sword suddenly and quickly against the enemy), and has a chance to instantly kill your target, much in the same way a real-life practitioner of Iaijutsu would if done correctly.
    • The Dissidia Final Fantasy games reference this with the equippable ability "Iai Strike", which has a small chance (about 1 or 2 percent, before any multipliers) of instantly putting your opponent into "Break Mode" (basically rendering them unable to inflict HP damage on you until they either land another HP strike or wait it out; in either case, their Bravery points return to their default number. It's a slightly tricky system.). Firion has this move in both games with his Swordslash Bravery Attack. Justified because each of Firion's attacks uses a different weapon, and by drawing-and-resheathing his sword in the iaijustu style, Firion leaves his hands free to perform a different attack when Swordslash is finished. Gilgamesh in 012 also has this ability as standard, but it involves him drawing Zantetsuken (out of 8 possible weapons) with an attack, which the player has no control over.
    • Final Fantasy V has Iainuki, the final power granted to Samurai. The move has them charge across the battlefield, presumably in a draw-and-re-sheath attack that attempts to slay all enemies instantly.
    • Cyan Garamonde has effectively the same attack as his level 8 Bushido attack, by the name of Oblivion. For bonus points, the monsters unlucky enough to be hit by it are cloven into pieces.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics has a rather strange variation for its Samurai class, in which they draw a katana other than the one they're currently equipped with and in the process somehow cause the sword's "spirit" to be released as if it were Summon Magic. This results in some nice effects, but also runs the risk of breaking the sword.
    • In Final Fantasy X, Yojimbo uses his wakizashi in this style.
    • The Stormblood expansion for Final Fantasy XIV adds the Samurai class, with one of its techniques naturally being this. You can even change the effect it unleashes upon the target depending on how many combinations of other weapon skills you use before unleashing it. Just as naturally, this is also a trademark of the person who gives you the initial equipment for the class and then challenges you to a duel to test if you're worth being his student, using it no less than three times on a single reckless gladiator (once to knock him out in a prior duel after the master deems him unworthy and sheathes his sword, only to do this when the gladiator rushes him in a rage; once to cut his sword in half when he interrupts your duel to try again with his own weapon; and once to knock him out again when he and some of his boys come back after your duel for revenge, wherein the master decides to let you handle the situation, at which point they find themselves still completely outmatched, and the gladiator decides attacking the master who'd already shown him up twice before will go better than continuing to fight you).
    • Zenos yae Galvus, a prominent FFXIV recurring villain introduced in Stormblood, is also a Samurai, and is so serious about getting his iaijutsu just right that he's got a special motorised scabbard for his three swords to ensure he can always draw the blade of his choice from the perfect angle.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • While Vergil has occasional stints with other weapons, his stylish trademark is the katana named Yamato, which he fights with using iaijutsu exclusively.
    • In Devil May Cry 4, Dante uses iaijutsu himself when wielding Yamato. In one of the cutscenes, he slices a huge slab of stone, several hundred meters away from him.
  • Citan in Xenogears after he's taken up arms again. He even makes a point to resheathe his sword with a large flourish. His combo attacks include quick-drawing and re-sheathing his sword repeatedly. Especially impressive because he uses a Chinese Jian instead of a katana.
  • Reiji's fighting style includes this in Namco × Capcom, and Saya's focuses very heavily on it. The twist is that they both carry a weapon rack in one hand that holds swords of different lengths and elements (and in Reiji's case, a shotgun), and they tend to switch weapons between each strike.
  • Guilty Gear series: Johnny, especially with his Mist Finer special move. Baiken is a minor example; which is quite impressive for someone with only one working arm.
  • The Dynasty Warriors franchise offers us several of these. In the main games Zhou Tai fights with a slightly more realistic version of iaijutsu, save for the fact that in earlier games, he carried a sword that was taller than him, which made his quick strikes look a bit strange. Stranger still is the fact that the series takes place in feudal China (note: not Japan), and in an era long before Japan was ever founded. But because there are only so many interesting weapon styles to spread out over a game renowned for Loads and Loads of Characters, iaijutsu (and his trusty "curved sword", as Koei calls it) gets in there anyway. And just for kicks, he's something of a quiet, serious type.
    • Samurai Warriors series offer us Mitsuhide Akechi, a Samurai In Shining Armor who uses Iaijutsu with his katana for flash-slices, counterattacks and Razor Wind. There's also Munenori Yagyu, who only draws the blade for certain attacks, and otherwise just swings his sheathed sword around like a giant club.
    • In the One Piece crossover games, Zoro could arguably be this, since while he does sheathe his sword for some attacks, he keeps them drawn most of the time.
      • Tashigi wields a single katana, and uses Iaijutsu for many of her moves.
      • Fujitora wields a swordcane, and incorporates Iaijutsu in many of his attacks.
  • Kizami from Shinobi (2002). Gets bonus points for being an Iaijutsu Master AND a blind swordsman.
  • Kamui Tokinomiya from the Arcana Heart series fights with iaijutsu, obsessively resheathing her sword after every strike.
  • Georg from Suikoden V is also an iaijutsu practitioner, sheathing his sword in between strikes. Georg is actually quite famous for this in-universe. It's said that he only draws his blade when he's sure that he can take the enemy down with one strike, earning him the nickname "Deathblow" Georg. In a case of Gameplay and Story Integration, he is permanently equipped with the Killer Rune, which boosts his Critical Hit chance by 50% and has a 10% chance of inflicting instant death.
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story:
    • Dias Flac is one. He contrasts the other characters by his skills rarely doing more than one hit. His most comboish attack deals four hits, as opposed to the 10 of his counterparts. Unfortunately, this greatly decreases his usefulness in the endgame since his attacks have slow startup and his normal attack isn't affected by items that would normally make everyone's normal attacks his several times. He also however, uses his sword out of its sheath during the cutscenes (in the anime and remake) as another contrast.
    • Even though his very first Killer Move follows this to a tee, it takes the title of most spammable in the game. More interestingly, his best weapon, the Crimson Diabolos may exist to circumvent his one hit style as it has the hidden ability to double his Attack Power.
  • Wild ARMs 1 has Jack Van Burace, who specializes in the Fast/Quick Draw sword technique. While it isn't too obvious in the original, the Video Game Remake with its updated graphics makes it clear that it's the series' name for the Iaijutsu style.
  • Pokémon has the move Cut, which is known as Iai Cut in the Japanese versions.
  • Mass Effect 3 introduces this technique as a part of the revamped melee options added to the game, as most heavy attacks are made by the player character winding back, materializing an Omni-blade (a short, superheated dagger formed over the wrist of the user) and thrusting it forward as it's being created. While not literally unsheating, the weapon only turns up as the attack is started.
    • A more straight example would be the Shadow Infiltrator and Slayer Vanguard Class from the Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer DLC Earth, who actually both carries a very sharp tanto, who they'll unsheath and strike with at the same time and sheat it again just after. In fact, you can't keep the weapons drawn at all.
  • Lyn from Fire Emblem Elibe fights this way, resheathing her katana after every blow. Her appearances as an assist trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and U/3DS have her attack this way, as well (crouching in position for a few seconds with sheathed katana, before attacking with a single slash).
  • Elazul from Legend of Mana has an exclusive special move based on this principle.
    • In addition, one of the very first special moves you'll learn for the one-hand sword is the Iai Strike, which evidently involves hitting the enemy hard enough to knock them to the other side of the battlefield (you never really have a sheath).
  • Asbel of Tales of Graces fights primarily with his scabbard, only drawing for a quick combo before resheathing. His most powerful Hi-Ougi ends with a 20-hit split-second Blade Spam.
  • Aden and Sonia from Rune Factory Oceans fights this way if you opt to use a katana instead of any other weapon.
  • FromSoftware
    • This is a Recurring Element for Souls series games. In Dark Souls, this forms the strong attack of the Iaito katana.
    • The Alonne Knights in Dark Souls II attack with quick sword draws with katana—they're even wearing what's essentially metal kendo armor. The knights are named after Sir Alonne, an eastern warrior who helped the Iron King's rise to power.
    • In Bloodborne, Chikage is a Sabre/Katana hybrid weapon which acts like Iaito katana once covered with the Old Blood, the said rite drains the health from the wielder. Its history can trace back to the blood of Yharnam, the Pthumerian Queen as well as the origin of Cainhurst Vileblood.
    • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice: Oddly, there aren't too many examples of this, despite the enormous number of katanas present in a game taking place in Sengoku era Japan. Only the Ashina Elite samurai, their clan patriach Isshin Ashina, and Isshin's pupil/doctor Emma really use the style, though the player character can unlock the ability as a hidden technique.
  • In Mortal Kombat 9, all sword-wielding characters will draw and replace them as part of combos, this is most apparent with Kenshi and Scorpion. It is subverted with Sub-Zero, who materialises and often shatters his ice weapons on the field.
  • Willard H. Wright fights with some semblance of this in Ougon Musou Kyoku CROSS (a Spin-off game of Umineko: When They Cry), in particular with his 214 Iai Strikes special.
  • In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Soma Cruz will do this with any katana-type weapon.
  • Non-katana example: Altair and Ezio are capable of striking while drawing swords.
  • In Grand Chase, Lass' fourth job (Evan Striper / Striker / Slasher) has him using iaido.
  • In Hakuouki, Saito Hajime practices iai. When asked, he explains that he prefers it because it's a skill that can reliably cut the enemy on the first strike, allowing him to end most of his battles before his opponent knows they've begun.
  • Yuzuriha in Under Night In-Birth, done with a oodachi (a very long katana). In her case, she can enter a stance where she's holding her sheathed sword at her hip, which can be continued into sword strikes at different angles. Yuzu also appears as a playable character in Blazblue Cross Tag Battle, where she comments that a true Iai master can draw the sword as fast as lightning, but, despite not being that good, she still can cut down an opponent before he realizes she drew.
  • The player's nameless samurai could be one of these in Way of the Samurai. In the first game, it was simply a single special move found on certain side stance swords, but the second game introduces 'Draw' stance weapons, which are explicitly iaijutsu styled attacks, drawing and returning the blade to its sheath between combos. Some weapons that use this stance are straightforward and sensible (traditional katana or short bladed swords, for instance). This stance could be combined with some positively ludicrous sword designs, and lead to the player draw-slashing with a Buster Sword Expy. 3 was notorious for this.
  • In an odd example, Benimaru Nikaido from the Japan Team in The King of Fighters has a move called the Iaido Kick, where he throws an extremely fast, almost invisible kick before returning his leg back to his stance. It's about as close to an iai draw as you can get with a kick.
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Raiden can use this through an unlockable skill called "Quick Draw" which allows near-instantaneous draws, but doesn't help while fighting. Another character, Samuel Rodrigues/Jetstream Sam/Minuano, heavily incorporates this into his fighting style, and his weapon, a High-Frequency "Murasama" blade, was built with this in mind; his sword's scabbard contains a modified AR-15 rifle receiver that can shoot his sword out of the sheath for a lightning-fast draw, as shown up close in the first chapter when Sam sheathes his sword mid-fight to fool Raiden and chop his arm off. Samuel's version is also used in his DLC, including as a Charged Attack.
  • Onigiri's movesets in Onmyōji suggest this. Keep in mind that he is the personification of a real-life tachi, a sword type unsuitable for this art to begin with, and is seemingly upgraded into an ōdachi judging by his character design.
  • Katanas in Phantasy Star Online 2 are wielded in this manner. In fact, they happen to be the only weapons that have a sheath. Phantoms can take it one step further with the Quick Cut skill, which allows them to Flash Step to an enemy if they perform a weapon action the moment they sheath the blade.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, the samurai-themed prosecutor Simon Blackquill strikes the side-turned stance with hand on sword and performs quick "swipes" during trials. Despite just using his fingers, he can use this technique to perform Razor Wind attacks that are capable of cutting small objects from across the other side of the courtroom. He can even parry the phantom's grappling-hook-shuriken-thing.
  • The rogue samurai Jubei in Evil Genius always sheathes his sword after a melee attack, resulting in a fighting style of slow but powerful attacks.
  • This is Anna's fighting style in the first Mana Khemia, whether she's performing normal attacks, sword beams, or slicing open dimensional holes to either attack from several directions at once or...increase everyone's elemental resistance?
  • The Tenno of Warframe pretty much specialize in this, as they have a quick-melee button just in case an enemy Butcher gets too close when they were reloading that expensive assault rifle. Special mention goes to, of course, the Nikanas, literally "space katana", which always fully resheathe at the end of a combo even if the weapon is being held ready and equipped.
  • With most types of melee weapons in the Monster Hunter series, you can unsheathe your weapon while moving forward to do a draw attack, bringing it out and striking in the same motion. It's an important move for weapons like great swords and hammers due to their slower attack speed otherwise, and there's even an Armor Skill that boosts the power of draw attacks.
    • With Monster Hunter: World's Iceborne expansion, longswords get a "special sheathe" move. The hunter moves the sheath to the hip instead of the back and sheathes, and can then use one of two quickdraw moves.
  • Akatsuki Blitzkampf:
    • Though Fritz, is not ethnically Japanese, he uses his katana to fight like this. A good example is his Super, the Hissatsu Kirikomi Touhou, in which he dashes forward and if it connects, he delivers eleven brutal slashes to the enemy, and then calmly sheathes his katana back as the rival falls to the ground.
    • To a lesser degree, there's Murakumo. He uses his katana quite less than Fritz does since he relays more in lighting, illusions and setting mines - but when he does use it, he either unleashes one powerful upwards strike (his Denkoudan and its EX version), or slices the enemy upwards a few times before striking them back to the ground (his Super, Hakku Ichiu). Then, he immediately slides the katana back into its sheath.
  • Dungeon Fighter Online attempts to go here despite the lack of sheaths. At the minor level, a female Slayer's class passive, "Composure", charges while not fighting to increase the odds of an initial strike being a critical hit. This evolves into a core part (and for some reason, a forbidden art) of her Sword Master subclass - aside from the attack speed boost the first visible effect of gaining the subclass will likely be the replacement of her basic attack combo while using a katana-type weapon into a rapid but clumsy-looking series of Reverse Grip stabs and drawing cuts. However, close examination will show this isn't a reverse grip at all; between every attack she changes forward foot and stance while "drawing" the weapon into her other hand, attacks, and changes back - so quickly almost all of this is invisible other than the weapon catching glints of light.
  • In Eternal Fighter Zero, Mai Kawasumi is a master of this technique, drawing and attacking at lightning fast speed, and resheathing her sword after each strike; fighting style-wise, she's pretty similar to Hibiki from The Last Blade, with shades of other iaijutsu practitioners in the mix, such as Johnny and Baiken, for example.
  • In Yatagarasu, both Hina and Shimo use Iaijutsu, resehathing their swords between strikes.
  • Imperial Agents in Star Wars: The Old Republic do a minor example of this with their vibroknives, when they don't simply just backfist it with the knife appearing out of nowhere. Notably, Operatives may sometimes appear to pull a knife out, stab, and then place it right back where it belongs before getting back to their normal rotation.
  • The Samurai / Fencer classes in the Ogre Battle series have a move called Iainuki. Depending on the game and class, this is either a quick melee slash or a mighty sonic attack that inflicts recoil damage on the user.
  • In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Deadpool's Katana-Rama attack is this, where he leans and then draws his katana from his back and immediately slashes at an angle before sheathing back. It can be followed up with his "Chimichangas!" move where he unsheathes 2 katanas at once from his back for a powerful slash that blows the enemy far away.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, this is how Terra does his version of the Zantetsuken, a powerful attack that can potentially instakill.
  • In Ghost of Tsushima, this is a possible opening move for Jin at the start of the battle, if the player intentionally waits for the enemy to make the first move and get in close.
  • The Ninja Girl that serves as the bodyguard for the final boss of Jacket's storyline in Hotline Miami. If you let her get too close or try to melee her, she'll slice you right in half with one draw. You need to take her down by throwing the trophy at her and then doing a finisher on her while she's on the ground.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY
    • Two characters are using such techniques thus far, Adam Taurus and Raven Branwen, both of whom wield Japanese-stylenote  swords. It is worth noting that whilst Raven wields a more traditionally curved O-katana which is perfect for incorporating this technique, Adam wields a far older style of blade called a Chokuto with a straight blade, making his incredible swordsmanship even more impressive.
    • Adam also uses Iaijutsu with his Semblance, which allows him to absorb energy from attacks that he blocks with his sword and unleash said energy via a quickdraw strike. He uses this technique to sever Yang's right arm in Episode 11 of Volume 3. It's worth noting that, per Word of God, his attack was actually strong enough to instantly deplete Yang's Aura and harm her through it in one blow.
  • Xionic Madness:
    • Xero's Cool Sword, the Aeroblade, combined with Razor Wind, operates on this principle. The Aeroblade itself has no physical blade, but instead has a built in turbine that cuts like any sword thanks to rapidly unsheathing and sheathing the blade, slicing enemies apart with high-pressure slashes made of wind. Overcharging it for a second allows for Xero to enter Bullet Time and rapidly slice multiple enemies at once. Combined with his suit's Super Speed, he becomes a "maniacal hurricane."

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Samurai Jack episode "The Princess and the Bounty Hunters", Princess Mira is shown practicing her quick draw. She repeatedly slashes the drops of water falling from an icicle, to the other bounty hunters' amazement.
  • Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender occasionally uses this technique in his sword fights. In one particularly impressive example from "Zuko Alone", he knocks a guy back without even taking the sword all the way out of the scabbard.

    Real Life 
  • The katana is short, gently curved, and worn in such a way that, compared to other swords, it's easy to unsheathe quickly. Becoming one in real life can end encounters very quickly.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Quick Draw Swordsman, Iaijitsu Practitioner


Quickdraw Gazongas!!

Saya doesn't need a sword.

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Example of:

Main / IaijutsuPractitioner

Media sources:

Main / IaijutsuPractitioner