Iaido is practiced in a traditional way, by doing kata (a
predetermined set of movements in defense against one or more opponents).
In order to properly perform each kata, you must learn posture and
movement, grip, and proper cutting. Even
though you practice against imaginary opponents, to maintain Iaido as a budo it
is critical to understand how the movements apply to real opponents.
In Iaido, the blade is drawn and cuts in the same motion.
Each Iaido kata consists of the draw, one or more cuts, cleaning the
blade, and returning it to the scabbard.
As a fighting art of the modern
world it is all too easy to see the sword arts superficially and criticize them
as inappropriate, simply because we do not walk along the street carrying a
sword. The way of the martial
artist should be to avoid conflict. This
was explained thousands of years ago by Sun Tsu in “The Art of War” and
later by masters of strategy. The
martial artist who trains fully and correctly, directed by a sensei, will
develop an ability to recognize difficult situations and avoid them before they
become a problem, or will engage the conflict before it has grown to become a
significant matter, or will maintain a state of mind and body that will not
offer opportunities for an aggressor. The
fact that you have your sword in your scabbard is due to the fact that Iaido is
a defensive art. Iaido is
ultimately practiced without ever drawing the sword from your scabbard.
Despite its origins, the goal of
Iaido is not to teach the taking of life, but instead to teach how to give life.
Iaido instills natural, accurate, and agile body movements that are
logical and effective. Students
must strive to achieve power, precision, and perfection in their form.
However, the refinement of physical movements is only one of the many
dimensions of training in Iaido. Iaido
was converted from its origin of Iai-jitsu making it a more spiritual or
philosophical art called a “do” (pronounced doh) or way of life.
Like all “do”, such as Aikido, Jodo, and Kyudo, Iaido is practiced to
develop one’s self into a more harmonious person through control of both the
body and the mind. This is
accomplished through long and serious practice and by developing your
self-discipline and concentration as well as improving your coordination,
balance, grace, strength, and posture. Iaido
is an individual discipline and you develop under your own conditions; you
receive the training corresponding to your goals and needs.
training in Iaido, you are confronted with the greatest of all foes, the ego.
When we train with the sword, we train as a group, and yet we train
completely as individuals. You are responsible for your own development at this point.
The level of concentration, balance, and coordination is at its highest
when you train in Iaido. Here you
learn to accept your own shortcomings; this helps us to learn to accept the
shortcomings of others. Having
compassion for ourselves teaches us to have compassion for others.
This is how we create a better society.