Training always starts and ends with Zarei (座礼), or kneeling bow, toward the Kamiza (not in the reference to the Kamidana, but as a reference to ancestors). It refers to facing Ittōsai and even the teachers before him.
A standard OHIR training usually consists of:
- Junbi taisō (準備体操): warming-up
- Kake Kyū-hin (架九品): the practice of 9 Kamae
- Suburi (素振り): practice swinging
- Kiri-otoshi (切り落し), lit. “cut to drop”.
- Katageiko (形稽古): the practice of prearranged forms
Training through repetition and studying of Kata (formal set of techniques used to transmit the techniques of the school) is an essential part of practice. Kumidachi Kata are based on real combat situations, so once the students have mastered the basic patterns, it is possible for their opponent to attack from different ma-ai (distance and timing) and angles and not in a predetermined fashion. The techniques being used don’t change fundamentally, the way in which they are applied are not necessarily fixed. Students must learn to adjust accordingly.
Each kata (形) consist of a number of Waza (techniques). In total there are more than 150 Waza in OHIR. These include kata with the long sword (Ōdachi), the short sword (Kodachi), Habiki and Battō Kata (sword drawing).
The Kata are:
- ŌDACHI GOJUPON (大太刀-五十本): 50 Waza
- ŌDACHI TSUIKA (大太刀追加): 10 Waza
- KODACHI (小太刀): 9 Waza
- AI KODACHI (合小太刀): 8 Waza
- SANJŪ (三重): 1 Waza
- HABIKI (刃引): 11 Waza
- HICHŪ NO HI GOKUI HOSHATŌ (秘中の秘極意払捨刀) or simply "Hoshatō": 10 Waza
- KŌJŌ GOKUI GOTEN (高上極意五点) or simply "Goten": 5 Waza
- HAKIRI-AI (ハキリ合) also called Juniten Makikaeshi (十二点巻き返し): 12 Waza
- KUKA-NO-TACHI (個之太刀): 9 Waza
- TA-RYŪ-KACHI-NO-TACHI (他流勝之太刀): 11 Waza
- TSUMEZA BATTŌ (詰座抜刀): 17 Waza
- TACHIAI BATTŌ (立合抜刀): 5 Waza
Students usually make use of a wooden sword or Bokutō (木刀), and Uchikata (the one undergoing the techniques but yet guiding) wears thick protective gloves called "Onigote" (鬼籠手). Nevertheless in the school there is also the usage of an Habiki ("pulled edge"). An Habiki (刃引き) is a steel (compared to Zinc alloy in an Iaitō) edged blade sword with an edge that is blunted. It is more robust than an Iaitō (practice sword used in Iaidō) but in contrast to a Shinken (real sword), not sharp.
Manners, courtesy, etiquette, expressed in Japanese by the word Reigi (礼儀) or Reihō (礼法) are very important in Ono Ha Ittō Ryū. In fact, the name of the OHIR training place in Tokyo, given by Sasamori Sōke, is Reigakudō (礼楽堂), which can be translated as “Etiquette study hall”.
A detailed explanation of the terms used in Ono Ha Ittō Ryū, as well as the names of the waza (techniques) and the names of the Kata can be found in the following document: Glossary related to Ono Ha Ittō Ryū.