What is iaido?

Description of iaido

Iaidō (EE-EYE-DOE) is a traditional Japanese sword art. Generally, it is concerned with drawing out the sword and cutting down an enemy in one smooth, continuous motion followed by re-sheathing the sword. Practitioners train in various situations mainly via solo waza that start with the sword in the sheath. The situations presented in the waza may include multiple opponents, obstacles, and different starting positions (sitting or standing). Training involves more than just swinging the sword. It also involves the body and the mind working together to make the sword effective.  The literal meaning of I-AI can be roughly rendered as I – ‘being/exist”, and AI – ‘be together/meet/fit’,– a subtle reference to the deeper meaning of relations before as well as during conflict.  This is training for being mentally and physically prepared at all times.

Iaidō is one of Japan’s oldest koryū (old style) martial arts, with many different ryū surviving to this day.  The lineage of MJER goes back about 450 years to the founder Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu. Today as then the emphasis is on control and precision of the sword, but the goal is to develop and strengthen the character and ‘heart’ (kokoro) of the practitioner. Practitioners spend years in intense training with an imaginary opponent to achieve direct and highly efficient action. Practice develops the person physically and mentally. The forms may look deceptively easy, however, much of this art is subtle or “hidden” and tremendous effort is required to perform it correctly.