Iaido [ee-eye-do] (居合道) is the art of drawing a Japanese sword from its scabbard to obtain advantage over an opponent. The sword is drawn to defend one’s self, to control or to kill an enemy in the most efficient way. Iaido as we know it today probably began with Iizasa Choisai, the founder of the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu. Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu (1542-1621), like Iizasa Choisai, is reputed to have received a divine inspiration, which led to the development of his art.
Nowadays Iaido represents the intrinsic form of Japanese Budo and is used as a form of mental and physical discipline, emphasising correct technique and form and character development. The study of Iaido encourages strength, balance, co-ordination and suppleness.
Since Iaido is practiced with a weapon, the training is based on kata (set forms). Each form represents a different combat scenario. By practicing in a repetitive manner the practitioner learns and develops technique. Techniques are highly refined, simple and direct. A beginner’s performance reveals lack of control and rigidity while a master’s appear effortless and natural.