Iaido | Fighting Styles


Iaidō can roughly be translated to “the ways of immediate reaction and mental presence”. It refers to a Japanese martial art that is associated with controlled and smooth movements of drawing swords from scabbards, cutting or striking down opponents, getting rid of blood from blades, and replacing swords into their scabbards. The training of iaidō involves solo and partner forms, each of which focus on etiquette when it comes to handling swords respectfully.

Today’s iaidō exponents usually make use of swords made of blunted metal to practice with, most of all among beginners, while most advanced practitioners make use of sharpened swords known as shinken. The majority of iaidō practices are done alone. Unlike kendo, iaidō is done without any kind of protective covering. Students need to try to gain power, perfection and precision within their form. As they move along, they will learn all about grace, control, and balance of both the mind and body.

The tactics themselves dealt with a lot of situations like sudden attacks by numerous opponents, surprise attacks during bows, as well as enemies lying in wait in darkened rooms or behind doors. The permutations were endless.

Iaidō would be the modern Japanese version of drawing long swords. Iaidō is different from kenjutsu and kendo, which is the Japanese version of fencing. Although kenjutsu and tactics of drawing swords used to be taught together, they now get taught separately as an art form. Iaidō came about in the 1930s and now teaches sword tactics, as well as forms of physical and mental discipline, focusing on proper form and technique, as well as character development and meditation.

Compared to shinai kendo, iaidō focuses morevon training in order to develop proper movements. Because of this, when it comes to technical purity, iaidō tends to occupy levels that are much higher compared to shinai kendo. Iaidō can improve and keep technical purities within shinai Kendo and make sure that every body movement is effective and logical since they are all agile, natural, and accurate.

Although the attack points in modern kendo happen to be very restricted, the performed attacks and strikes are of free form, which leads to elements of competition. When this competition spirit is granted full reign, kendo become a contest that is solely carried out to win. Then, the purity of kendo tactics gets lost.

Iaidō is an art of reacting to surprise attacks through counter attacks with swords. It is a very authentic martial art which has proven its overall martial values within times of constant warfare and battle, preserved and directly passed onto students by teachers over the generations in a lineage that has remained unbroken for almost five centuries.

Practitioners of iaidō, called the iaidoka, wield swords not to take control of opponents, but to take control of themselves. Most of the time, iaidō is performed alone in waza series, where the iaidoka use several tactics against multiple or single imaginary opponents. Every waza starts and ends with swords sheathed. Along with sword tactics, iaidō practitioners need concentration and imagination to ensure that the fights feel real and their kata stay fresh. To correctly perform wazas, iaidoka also have to learn about movement and posture, as well as swings and grips. Iaidō should never be practiced through free sparring.

Since iaidoka practice to get ready for surprise attacks, efficient and instant solutions to these aggressive problems would be of the utmost necessity. Because of this, their tactics are very refined. Each unnecessary movement is taken away and tactics are kept direct and simple, while training methods are aimed towards the overall practitioner’s development for each of their physical and mental resources.

Iaidoka develop their minds to an ultimately active, peaceful, and harmonious state that is prepared to deal and react with any situation in life.

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