Iaido is a non-combative martial art that involves no direct physical contact or combat with other individuals in the Dojo. Practitioners perform patterns, called “Kata,” that represent confrontational situations where he or she is attacked by one or more opponents. Almost all patterns are solo; that is, there is no physical enemy. There are some two-person Kata, but these are choreographed, with one person defending against a pre-defined series of attacks. Solo Kata involve drawing the sword, making one or more cuts, cleaning the blade, and returning the sword to the scabbard with concentration and focus.
Iaido is, perhaps, the most philosophically oriented of all Japanese martial arts, but it is also one of the least understood. One reason for this may be that the practical aspects of the art overshadow its true essence: perfection of character through commitment to martial practice. Iaido is much more than learning how to use a sword. It is, primarily, about non-combative physical and mental discipline. The true essence of Iaido is in its emphasis on fostering peace within an individual by learning to use the sword as a tool for self-realization.
What this says is that Iaido is not about learning to use a sword on physical enemies but, instead, to use it to develop a strong understanding of who you are and how your actions affect yourself and your environment. With this understanding comes a more developed ability to identify what elements of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours you can change to improve your interactions with your environment and your understanding of yourself.
Though commonly known as the “The Sword Drawing Art”, translated literally the word “Iaido” means “The Art of Fitting into All Life’s Situations.” When we practice Iaido, we focus our minds on the moment and attempt to exclude all interfering thoughts. This intense focus on the perfection of all one’s motions, without mental or emotional distraction, in order to achieve calm, unimpeded awareness is the aspect of the art that is easily lost on someone who concentrates only on the physical technique as means to a practical, physical outcome. Iaido is an art of building one’s own character through constant practice and discipline, rather than of overcoming others through exercise of physical skill. The struggles we have with ourselves in our daily practice often mirror those we face in our daily lives. Take in this context, Iaido can be thought of as a metaphor for our lives. Those who understand this will find the practice of Iaido a way to change themselves and, ultimately, their lives.
Below are examples of Iaido Kata as demonstrated by Goyo Ohmi NanaDan and Kimberly Taylor NanaDan
ZNKR Iai Manual 2009
Articles on Iaido
ZNKR Iaido Points for Grading and Refereeing By Kim Taylor, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan
Zen Ken Ren Iai(Seitei Gata Iai)
Tachi Uchi no Kurai
Fall Iaido Registration: OPEN
Haru Geiko 18th April 2020
Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan Iaido and Roukudan Jodo
Pamel Morgan Yondan CKF Iaido and Yondan CKF Jodo
Location Peterborough Multi Sport
The 2020 CKF International Spring Jodo and Iaido Seminar and Grading
University of Guelph, Ontario Canada, May 15 to 18