Iaido is a Japanese martial art associated with the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword from its Saya (scabbard), striking or cutting an imaginary opponent and wipe the blood from the blade before putting it back in the Saya.

Iaido is often used interchangeably with Battojutsu (drawing the sword). Battojutsu is the historical (ca. 15th century) term encompassing both the practice of Battojutsu and Tameshigiri (cutting).

The word iaido approximately translates into English as "the way of mental presence and immediate reaction." While new students of iaido may start learning with a wooden sword (bokken) depending on the teaching style of a particular instructor, many of those who study iaido use an Iaito (Unsharpened sword). Advanced practitioners of iaido use Shinken (sharpened metal sword).

Because iaido teaches the use of actual metal weaponry, it is almost entirely based on the teaching of forms, or kata. Multiple person kata do exist within some forms of iaido, but the Iaidoka (practitioners of iaido) will usually use bokken for such kata practice. Iaido does not include direct competition or sparring of any kind. Because of this non-competitive aspect, and Iaido's emphasis on precise, controlled, fluid motion, it is sometimes referred to as "moving Zen."

Iaido vs Kendo

Iaido should not be confused with kendo or kenjutsu:
Kendo teaching does not include drawing and re-sheathing of a sword. The main weapon used in kendo, a flexible bamboo sword (shinai), uses no scabbard. Kendo is practiced with a partner in full contact training or in forms (kata) practice.

Iaido vs Kenjutsu

Kenjutsu is generally practiced with a partner, in the form of predetermined routines, and often does include drawing or resheathing of the sword.

 Source: "Wikipedia" and GlobalKendo.com

Photo: Leif Almo        

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