What is Iaido?

Iaido is the principle art of Samurai Swordsmanship practiced for centuries in Japan. Iaido (pronounced ‘e-i-do’) teaches the student how to draw the sword from the sheath efficiently, deal with an attacker or attackers, and re-sheath the sword safely. In the past, Iaido was used as a method of self-defence as the Japanese Sword, Katana, was a Samurai’s primary weapon and always at his side. In the same way a modern Police Officer is required to carry a pistol whilst on duty, draw the pistol from the holster, and aim and fire in the line of duty or self-protection, a Japanese swordsman needed to be able to bring his sword into action at a moment’s notice. Practitioners of Iaido are taught to deal with attacks from many different angles and positions. A great deal of skill and expertise is required to successfully employ the Japanese Sword in combat and this is why many consider Iaido as a martial art of the highest order.

Iaido originally evolved from the sword art of Iai-jutsu, of which senior students of Iaido are still taught. Iaido is usually performed with an Iaito (blunt sword). However, more experience and qualified practitioners use a traditional Shinken (sharp blade) in solo practice. Wooden swords, bokken, are often used by beginners until the safety aspects have been learnt. The style of Iaido taught at Perth Martial Arts Academy is Zen Ken Ren Seitei Iai, which covers the methods of numerous old classical ‘Koryu’ schools of Iaido and is the main and most popular style of Iaido practiced in Japan today. This method is taught in a safe and efficient manner so the students can immediately start practicing and enjoying the benefits of this unique martial art.

Having been influenced by some of the greatest swordsman in history, Iaido is a system that has evolved over hundreds of years into a complete and structured study of the sword. In this modern age, Iaido has progressed beyond the self-defence ideals into a true martial art form focused on training the mind and body to effectively work together. Although it can be a difficult martial art to master, Iaido can also be an inspirational challenge and martial art pathway that anyone can benefit from. A desire to learn and perseverance is all it takes to excel in Iaido and the use of the Japanese sword.

Although not mandatory, Iaido ‘Kata’ competitions are conducted at state, national and international levels often coinciding with visits by senior Sensei from Japan. The style of competition in Iaido differs greatly from modern martial art sports like mixed martial arts, MMA, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, BJJ and Judo, where the goal for many practitioners is simply winning. In Iaido, the student is encouraged to prioritise self-improvement and self-discipline through constant training and, competitions and demonstrations are held to highlight the need for detailed skill and composure.

The benefits of on-going Iaido training are too numerous. The fact that many elderly Japanese people practice Iaido, like the way others practice Tai-Chi, well into their 60s, 70s, even 80s and beyond stands as testament to the value of this training. Many of the Japanese Sensei visiting Western Australia to conduct training fall into these age brackets and there is never any sign of them failing. When our Western population is becoming increasingly inactive, and our elderly are moving into retirement villas and nursing homes, similarly aged students of Classical Martial Arts continue to actively participate and benefit.

Among other attributes, Iaido trains the practitioner how to focus, develops greater awareness and creativity, improves posture and understanding of correct body mechanics, and conditions the body. Iaido can be a martial art for life and it can improve your life. If you seek a life-long study and a deeper-understanding of the martial arts through the use of the Japanese sword then Iaido is the art for you. Maturity is the only pre-requisite and beginners are most welcome at Perth Martial Arts Academy.