What is Iaijutsu?
Iaijutsu or Iaido is commonly known in English as “The Art of Drawing the Sword”. Essentially it is a Japanese martial art that involves drawing the blade from the scabbard and cutting in one fluid motion. Students of Iai learn four basic elements, drawing the sword, cutting down the opponent, flipping the blood from the blade and returning the sword to the scabbard. In addition to these techniques, wearing kimono and sword maintenance is also practiced. Iaido techniques referred to as “waza” must be executed with a calm spirit, concentration and complete awareness of your surroundings. The Terms “Iaijutsu” and “Iaido” today essentially refer to the same thing. Most martial arts used to be referred to as “jutsu” as in “Jujutsu” or “kenjutsu”. With the modernization of Japan after the Meiji restoration, the need for “martial” arts became less prominent. With martial spirit still being an integral part of Japanese culture, the term “jutsu” was replaced with the modern term “do” and became a term associating the arts with personal character development rather than a practical martial or military focus. Today, both terms are used depending on the dojo or sensei.
What DOES IAIDO MEAN?
Like many traditional Japanese terms it is not easy to translate the true meaning of Iaijutsu or Iaido into English. In the Japanese language the term “Iaijutsu” and “Iaido” are made up of three ideograms. 居 (i) meaning to be in a “particular place” or to “reside”, 合 (ai) meaning “harmony”, and 術 (jutsu) meaning “art, technique or way” or in the case of “Iaido” 道 (do) meaning “path or “the way”. Combined, the term can loosely be described as “The way to harmony in any situation”.