What is Iaido?


Iaido is one of the Japanese traditional Budo concerned with drawing the blade and cutting in the same motion. (Budo means martial arts or military arts in Japan). A typical form consists of the draw and cut, a finishing cut, cleaning the blade and returning it to the scabbard, all without looking away from the imaginary opponent.

Most practice is solo, eventually with shin-ken (a real blade). In contrast with Kendo, Iaido is performed without protective coverings of any kind. Students must strive to achieve power, precision and perfection in their form. Along the way they learn balance, grace, and control both of the body and the mind.

Iaido dealt more with everyday situations rather than those on the battlefield. The term “Iai” is taken from the Japanese phrase: “Tsune ni ite, kyu ni awasu”. The meaning of this is “whatever we may be doing or wherever we may be, we must always be prepared for any eventuality”.

The techniques themselves dealt with many situations such as a sudden attack by several opponents, a surprise attack while bowing to someone, an enemy lying in wait behind a sliding door or an attack in a darkened room.

“Saya no uchi” is a truncated phrase. A full-length phrase is “Saya no uchi de katsu”,  meaning  “Victory in the scabbard of the sword”. The real intention is “One must obtain victory while the sword is un-drawn”.

The essence of Iaido is a non-combative discipline engaged in for the individual’s spiritual cultivation. Through the blade we seek to improve our spirit and become better people, to promote peace and good feeling beyond the walls of the Do-Jo and into our daily lives.


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