Iaido – A Japanese Martial Arts focused on the Sword
Iaido is a Japanese martial arts focused on the drawing of a sword from its scabbard. The Iaido student (iaidoka) will then practice the “stroke” or “cut” of the sword. This martial arts utilizes swords such as a Bokken(wooden sword), Iaito (unsharpened metal sword) or Shinken (sharpened metal sword).
Iaido relies heavily on katas (forms), wazas, and cuts. In addition, unlike Kendo, Iaido does not utilize sparring.
Main Elements of Iaido
- Iaido Katas
- Iaido Cutting Techniques
- Iaido Waza
- Tameshigiri – Target cutting with Shinken (live/sharp blades).
Description & History of Iaido
According to Iaido.com, “Iaido is a type of Japanese swordsmanship. Practice is made up almost entirely of kata, or pre-arranged sets of motion designed to respond to a particular attack by another swordsman. A kata typically consists of a draw, a parry, a major cut, a blade-cleaning motion, and a resheathing. Practice is calm and quiet, since the most important feature of iaido is the development of zanshin (a calm, reflective mind), and the major difficulty to overcome is the extraordinary attention to detail required. This is another art that is popular with older people and non-athletes, since the relatively slow movements are not as taxing to the cardiovascular system as are the more active arts (though it is still extremely challenging).”
Iaido.com also states that Iaido “is a martial art form that began as an off-shoot of kenjutsu. It was developed as a defensive method to counter surprise attacks and enemy raids in fifteenth and sixteenth century Japan. The purpose of iaido was to slay an opponent with one stroke of the sword immediately after unsheathing it. In order to create such a defense system, situations and circumstances of surprise attacks were studied to devise a systematized way to use the sword effectively against many forms of attack.”
Demonstration of Iaido Techniques
Typical Iaido Class
Like most martial arts, Iaido is focused on fluid and precise movement. When a kata or waza is done the student must keep the blade level to the ground also watching the angle of the blade, and when a cut is made it is done with a swift fluid motion with a specific angle. Iaido is also widely practiced with Kendo and Iaijutsu.
Class is stated with formal bowing to the teacher (sensei ni rei) and then to the sword (to rei) both done in kneeling position. The formal uniform is a keiko and hakama, with the sword secured in the belt. The belt which signifies rank is worn on the sword.
The four tora tsuru ranks are:
- Shoden meikiyo
- Chuden meikiyi
- Okuden meikiyo
- Masters meikiyo
- Iaido.com, Iaido, http://www.iaido.com/Iaido.html, Added – 8/15/13