Definition of Iaijutsu
‘I’ - To remain, to reside, to be found in, Inhabit.
‘AI’ - To match, to harmonize, to fit in with.
Iaijutsu training begins with the basics, such as learning correct posture, footwork, movement, how to hold the sword correctly and how to cut. The core of Muso jikiden eishin ryu training can be found in the study of solo sword drawing kata, separated into shoden, chuden and okuden levels of transmission, and the study of kumitachi (paired practice).
A martial art has both inner and outer layers, and at the core of iaijutsu can be found spiritual and mental discipline.
Iaijutsu is typically seen as drawing and cutting, but iai can also mean to draw the sword and assume a kamae (posture and attitude) without cutting, or drawing into a blocking or deflecting technique. The curriculum contains kata performed from the ground while sitting or kneeling, from stationary standing positions and also while walking normally
The following main concepts are important in the study of Iai, and are central in most kata (forms) of the ryu's curriculum:
1. Applying attacking pressure (seme), while initiating
the sword draw
2. Drawing and cutting in one motion (nukitsuke), the
type of cut depending on the opponents reaction to
3. Making at least one kirioroshi (downward finishing
cut) or multiple follow up cuts.
4. Removal of the blood from the blade, by one of
several chiburi (blood removal) actions.
5. Returning (noto) the sword to the saya (scabbard),
while maintaining zanshin (remaining heart).
Performing kata while keeping physical and mental balance, using the correct muscles for techniques, maintaining correct breathing, focus and staying consistent with the overall strategy of the form is challenging and rewarding in many ways. Some other of the benefits of such training include:
1. Harmonisation and strength of body, mind and spirit
2. Improved concentration and focus
3. Refined character
4. Improved manners
7. A peaceful state of mind
Through the study of both solo and paired kata we learn how to emerge victorious from encounters with sometimes multiple opponents. Each ryu has its own philosophy on how victory can be achieved, and by exploring these concepts we find the kata become deeper in meaning and will reveal themselves over time to contain much more than was initially obvious.
The eight direction cutting drill called happo-giri is regulary practiced, and is used to strengthen the fundamentals of cutting along with Suemonogiri.
Suemonogiri is the cutting of stationary targets, usually tatami (straw mats) which are rolled, tied and soaked in water. The targets are then spiked onto a stand and then cut by the swordsman, giving instant feedback on technique.