Today, I would like to share my thoughts on a seemingly simple question, yet the answer is never simple. On more than a few occasion, I have been asked, "what is Iaido?" To most, I simply reply, "Iaido teaches the use of a real sword, and we perform this solo." Sometimes I make the analogy of it being like the cowboys in old western movies, with the quick draw, shoot and put the pistol back in the holster..... we do the same with a sword. It is hard to explain to people exactly what it is, and by the time you finish the basic intro, they would have already lost interest (Maybe because I am too long-winded with my explanation) and say, "oh! so you mean Kendo!" Iaido is not Kendoand Iaido is certainly not the art to strike down an opponent in cold blood. It has a more spiritual side than simply wielding a sword around in an empty room by yourself, taking selfies and trying to look really cool. The following is what I have been taught, and here is my attempt to translate it.
"I" (居, pronounced "ee") implies where the physical self as well as one's heart and spirit exist. "Ai" (合) implies the appropriate but non-confrontational response and reaction to whatever approaches. In other words, Iai is the harmonious amalgamation of one's self and the environment. Iai is to seek peaceful solution without the use of force; Iai is to defend against injustice without the use of force; Iai is to achieve victory without the use of force;
The sword in your hand is not Iai. ============================================= 居合の「居」とは、体の居る所、心の居る所、心身の実在を差す。 「合」とは、来れば迎え、去れば送り、打てば響き、呼べば応える、臨機応変、当意即妙の働きを言う。 既ち居合とは、お互いの心を和合させ宇宙と一体となることである。 居合とは人に斬られず人斬らず己を責めて平らかの道 居合とは人に斬られず人斬らずただ受止めて平らかに勝つ 居合とは人に斬られず人斬らず成す事なきを勝ちと知るべし 「刀」は居合ではない。