Iaijutsu (Ex): At 7th level, a kensai applies his Intelligence modifier as well as his Dexterity modifier on initiative rolls (minimum 0). A kensai may make attacks of opportunity when flat-footed, and may draw his favored weapon as a free action as part of taking an attack of opportunity. This ability replaces the medium armor ability.

Looking at this I see that it doesn't look like it does what it was intended to do.. It looks like it's supposed to allow you to threaten when you're unarmed. But it only says "you can draw it when you get an attack of opportunity" meaning this is actually only useful if you're threating via some other means?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What was it intended to do? It looks to me like it was intended to help Magus Kensai go first and perform an attack when they're not first in initiative order. \$\endgroup\$
    – PipperChip
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PipperChip - You can't make attacks of opportunity unless you threaten. You don't threaten without a weapon drawn unless you have Improved Unarmed Strike or a natural weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bobson
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am certain you do not make an attack of opportunity when you are flat footed either, so this feat allows you to both draw your favored weapon, and make an attack of opportunity with it in a situation where you would not normally be able to make an attack of opportunity without a weapon drawn \$\endgroup\$
    – DanceSC
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 22:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PipperChip Threatened Squares (PFSRD) \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 22:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Paizo has made this mistake before with Dragon Compendium Volume 1's feat Mercurial Strike. Mike Mearls and Jeff Quick are credited with that feat; did either write the Magus Kensai? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 23:24

2 Answers 2


One way of making use of this ability is to be equipped with a gauntlet, or to have a natural attack of some sort - this way you always count as armed, and always threaten, and could then make AoOs when not holding any other weapon.

However, yes, the second part of the ability appears to be poorly worded. As a GM, I would likely go with the intent, and allow the character to threaten, even when not armed, assuming they were willing to draw the weapon to carry out the AoO.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ More specifically, I'd rule the Kensai threatens whenever they are in possession of (and able to draw) their favoured weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 22:31

Look up Iaijutsu on youtube. The style is one where drawing the blade and swinging it is one motion. The intent here is that the Kensai is skilled enough to make a lightning fast draw and attack move, as long as he/she is in possession of the favored weapon. This ability was something that the 3.5 Samurai had as well.


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