Iaido, the way of the sword, is a martial art form that began as an
off-shoot of kenjutsu. It was developed as a defensive method to counter
surprise attacks and enemy raids in fifteenth and sixteenth century Japan.
The purpose of iaido was to slay an opponent with one stroke of the sword
immediately after unsheathing it. In order to create such a defense system,
situations and circumstances of surprise attacks were studied to devise a
systematized way to use the sword effectively against many forms of attack.
The practice of this martial art requires a solemn spirit, extreme
concentration, and skill. Every motion, such as the movements of the arms
or legs and body, must correspond to the offensive motions of the opponent,
and it is of utmost importance that a person follow the rules of discipline
that have been carefully and thoroughly applied.
The secret to iaido is 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 the opponent and resheath the 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.
Even though you may devote yourself to it with all your heart and soul,
it is very diffcult to master iaido completely. It is possible, though, to
move one step at a time toward the ultimate goal through practice.
Hanshi, 10th Dan, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido
Excerpts from Sensei Suino's Books: