Iaido

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16 May 2007 14:50 - 15 Jan 2009 22:29 #2191 by Garm
Iaido was created by Garm
I would like to give a description of a martial art that to me applies many of the beliefs and traditions that we as Jedi hold dear. The practice of this art is akin to meditation itself and can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age or physical condition. It has more to do with the mind than the body. With luck I plan to continue this art until I can no longer stand on my own. The following is a mixture of my own views and information collected from other sources.

Iaido is the traditional Japanese art of swordsmanship specializing in the countering of surprise attacks. Iaido is translated approximately as “Instant awareness”, meaning one should be able to respond to any threat instantaneously and in a way to ultimately avoid being attacked. The modern martial art of Iaido is developed from actual Samurai combat practice. They not only practiced techniques for using the sword but also how to judge situations and opponents under all possible circumstances.

In the time of the Samurai, even the slightest cut could bring death, if not by the wound itself then almost certainly by infection. Speed and accuracy played a decisive role in the development of their techniques.

The practice of Iaido requires a solemn spirit, extreme concentration and skill, the technique is highly refined. Every unnecessary movement is cut away, simple and direct in order to increase speed and reduce the chance of the opponent’s blade from finding its mark.

The secret to this martial art is in a calm spirit. With a tranquil heart you put your hand on the hilt of your sword – in a split second your hand moves to cut down your opponent and resheath your sword – then return to your composed mind. A serene spirit must be cultivated at all times. It is said that the sword is like the mind, and if the sword is upright, the mind is upright. But if the mind is not upright, the sword can never be wielded properly.

Iaido is an authentic art that has proved its martial values in a time of constant battle and warfare. The art has been preserved and passed down over the generations for over 450 years. Because Iaido has no practical use in modern warfare it has the unique character if being taught unchanged from ancient times, there has been no need to adapt if for use in the modern world.

The first schools dedicated exclusively to sword drawing appeared some time during the 16th century. Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobe (1546-1621) is generally credited with being the originator of the first dedicated school. The two largest schools practiced today are Muso Shinden-Ryu and Miso Jikiden Erishin-Ryu (I practice this discipline) however both schools trace their lineage to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobe.

In practice, Iaido training consists of practicing Kata like in most martial arts. Each Kata consists of four parts:
NUKITSUKE (NEW-key-tsky) drawing the sword from the scabbard or Saya,
KIRIOROSHI (key-ree-oh-row-SHE) the cutting action,
CHIBURI (chee-BOO-ri) flicking blood off the blade,
And
NOTO (NOH-toe) the sword is returned to the Saya.

There exist approximately 48 Kata between the two schools; however like most martial arts there exist subtle differences in the forms themselves.

The sword (Katana) is handled with respect, observing good manners at all times. At the beginning and at the end of training the student and master alike bows to both the
O-Sensei and then to their sword. One does not step over a somebody else’s sword or touch it without the permission of the owner. Many Samurai believed that their Katana possessed a personality of its own, a spirit of a past warrior or a natural element (wind, fire…) instilled into the blade when it was forged, there are many stories depicting the acts of Samurai accomplishing great feats partially due to the influence of the spirit of the blade.

Iaido cannot be considered to be a sport; it may be better described today as an art form. The student tries to hit not an opponent, but something in him or herself. There is a pre-set form to an Iaido Kata, which is studied endlessly. This form is honed and polished until the result is a beautiful and harmonious whole. Iaido is never perfect, Masters understand that there is always room for their own improvement and that their students are human, the path of the Iaidoka being a lifelong journey.

An Idaioka is in harmony with his sword – the sword is part of him, in the past his sword was literally his life. I have owned my Katana for fifteen years, longer than two of my children have been alive. The feel of this weapon is ingrained into my being. In class during an exercise to prove this, while blindfolded, I could tell nine out of ten times if the sword handed me was mine or not. Also, if I use a another’s sword during Kata my performance always sucks, the funny thing is after I return to using my own, it takes a couple of Kata before I regain my norm, almost like as if my sword is saying, use another eh? ;)

Ranking in Iaido is similar as in other martial arts, differing only slightly. The following depicts a typical format: Generally children and younger teenagers will wear a yellow obi (belt) and will test for the white obi when ready. Adults and older teens will start with the white obi and will test for a Dan level when ready.
The Dan levels wear a black obi with embroidery colored to match the level, White for Shodan (1st Dan), Grey for Nidan (2nd Dan), Silver for Sandan (3rd Dan), and Gold for Yondan (4thDan), ranks Godan to Hanshi usually wear the black and gold obi, but change the color of the Keikogi (similar to the karate gi top).

I have heard rumor of schools that have no visible ranking at all, everyone wears the same uniform and trains with the wooden bokken in the dojo. When the Sensei decides that an individual is ready for Dan ranking a katana is presented symbolizing their advancement to Dan and therefore assistant teacher status. No testing, only time and effort, under observation of the Sensei’s trained eye as to when adequate personal growth is reached. To me this way is probably the most traditional and also seems the most Jedi like.

Iaido does not actually mean the overcoming of an enemy, but overcoming one’s own limitations. The only and most dangerous opponent is the Iaidoka himself as he / she trains toward human perfection. With endless practice the Iaidoka learns to understand his / her place in the universe.

MTFBWY

Rev. Lenny O.C.P.
Knight of Jediism
Last edit: 15 Jan 2009 22:29 by Garm.

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  • Dhagon Krayt
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16 May 2007 17:15 #2197 by Dhagon Krayt
Replied by Dhagon Krayt on topic Iaido
Thanks for this piece, it is very informative. I now have a harder choice to make as to which martial art I shall learn. I'm not sure of any dojos that teach this form in this area, but I will definatly look to find out, thanks again.

DK

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16 May 2007 17:37 #2199 by Garm
Replied by Garm on topic Iaido
Most Iaidoka are members of another martial art and supplment their training with the sword art. my primary Karate group was very aggressive and competive, 3-point and open sparring and Kata compitions about every second weekend, Iaido brought balance to my practice. There are many Sword arts out there, some teach budo actual combat using Armour and using Bamboo swords, others teach the cutting side using live blades and straw mats soaked in water. I guess that doesn't narrow it down for you though. No matter what you deside, Most clubs will let you try them out for a few weeks with no obligation, so shop around and enjoy.

Lenny

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17 May 2007 06:01 #2231 by Scythe
Replied by Scythe on topic Iaido
I would suggest checking around for a United Studios of Self Defense they have sword arts aswell as Karate and kung Fu they will give you a free class session and your membership is valid at all their Dojos.

Iaido is a great art I love it, though the place I live in now isn't sword kata friendly lol.

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21 May 2007 19:48 #2375 by Dhagon Krayt
Replied by Dhagon Krayt on topic Iaido
I am happy to inform you, that I checked into the aikido place here on base, and they also offer some form of Iaido, I believe its like Iai-Jutsu or something like that. I stopped by today, and found out that thier hours are cut to once a week on Saturdays from 10-12 so that really stinks, all this Brazillian Ju-Jitsu is pushing it out of the way with its television popularity. Hopefully it will subside and they can even out. Thanks again for the information.

DK

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22 May 2007 12:53 #2398 by Garm
Replied by Garm on topic Iaido
I'm not sure the difference between Brazillian Ju-Jutsu and regular Ju-Jutsu, but in my experience Ju-Jitsu is very good, not to mention fun. The club that I participated in did no grappling and almost no throws. They tought that staying on your feet was best. ignoring the what if's. So when I had the chance to get to a seminar the Ju -jitsu, aikido and Kung Fu mats were always worth the wait. Traditional Ju-Jitsu practice the sword, the bo, the sai, and I believe the nunchaku, although I'm not certian about the nunchaku...come to think about it, it's the whole Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle arsenal. Anyway, it's important to have fun.

Lenny

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22 May 2007 13:01 #2400 by Garm
Replied by Garm on topic Iaido
Sorry Scythe, I wanted to agree with you in the last post and I was a bit to quick on the submit button. Yeh I've found the same thing. it's not always easy to find a club the likes the sword. My last club refused to teach any weapons at all saying that they have no practical use...well neither does the japanese terminology used in the dojo, I just think that it's a traditional part of the art and has its place. I have reciently moved and out of the six clubs in my area there is only one that I would join, however their hours conclict with mine so for now its practice in the basement with my wife for now.

Lenny

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22 May 2007 15:15 #2409 by Merin Kyo Den
Replied by Merin Kyo Den on topic Iaido
Dhagon Krayt wrote:

I am happy to inform you, that I checked into the aikido place here on base, and they also offer some form of Iaido, I believe its like Iai-Jutsu or something like that. I stopped by today, and found out that thier hours are cut to once a week on Saturdays from 10-12 so that really stinks, all this Brazillian Ju-Jitsu is pushing it out of the way with its television popularity. Hopefully it will subside and they can even out. Thanks again for the information.

DK



I'm very greatful for my Iai experience, even though my focus is Western now. Aikido will always, if taught in traditon, encompas some Iai-Jitsu and Ken-jitsu in one form or another as they are all linked. Most martial arts, Aikido most of all, have their roots in weapon arts. It was all about what to do when drawing the sword, what to do if you can't draw your sword, what to do once the sword is drawn, you get the point. As much as I love my friends teaching that Brazillian Ju-Jitsu and MMA, I realy hope it dies down soon. The Brazillian stuff is all about taking it to the ground, a place I try not to end up....LOL. I wonder if In Iaido they'll include Tameshigiri? I hope they do, then I have someone else to share cutting stories with.

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22 May 2007 16:38 #2412 by Dhagon Krayt
Replied by Dhagon Krayt on topic Iaido
Well, the Brazillian Ju-Jitsu guys are all abouot UFC competition type stuff, things that may be good to know, but that I really don't care to do. Its mostly grappling and such, not to mention they charge like 50 bucks a month which I think is rediculous for here on base. I might check it out, but probably won't stay in that, for the price.

DK

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