It is more than how you hold your sword.
November 25, 2017
Most people learning Iai or Kendo are taught the basic five stances - 五行の構え (Gogyou-no-kamae). Indeed these are important to know, and these are all physical postures taken when the sword is drawn. As written in a previous post, in Iai, victory is decided in the saya (居合の勝負は鞘の中です). Can one conclude that Iai has no kamae?
While it may sound logical, it cannot be further from the truth. Although the sword is in the saya, how the person carries him/herself is an expression of migamae (身構え). Movements that are purposeful and steady, smooth and graceful without appearing clumsy or nervous. Eventually one must reach the higher and intangible state of kokoro gamae (心構え) - emanating an aura of humble confidence with or without a sword. A state that is part of the person at all times. How does one achieve this? No one can actively seek to achieve this. It is something that comes from within and not something that can be taught. If one proudly proclaims to have no fear, the statement must have spawn from one's fears. Same is with kokoro gamae. By saying one has kokoro gamae, one hasn't. It is a state of being and a state of mind, one that will come naturally thorough dedicated training and with time.