Last night I had the amazing experience of trying out Iaido for the first time with a weapons master and a national champion of Mugai-ryū 無外流, a Koryu (traditional sword style). The experience was even better than I had expected.
Iaido 居合道 also known as Iai 居合, focuses on being aware and capable of quickly drawing the sword and responding to a sudden attack.
Before the practice I was a bit wary as I was aware that iaido primarily focuses on form practice, rather than partner techniques. I wasn`t sure if it would be something I would enjoy or be bored with quickly. Luckily, I was in good company and dove right in.
I started off with learning how to put on my new iaido obi (belt) and hakama, which is a very strict practice and I had to redo the ties at least 3 times. I was allowed to use my aikido dougi top which contrasted nicely with the black hakama and obi. From there I was showed three different practice swords, one a wooden bokken (~$50), next an unedged iaito (metal blade katana ~$500), and then an authentic live blade katana (~$7,000). Each one had a completely different feel. Weight and balance are the two main factors that changed the most drastically. I was showed how to insert the sheathed blade into the obi in the proper way, and how to align the cords, hand-gaurd, and such. Below is the iaito:
I started off with the bokken, and it felt too light and a bit raspy being drawn from the sheath. Then as I learned the basic first movements I was allowed to use the iaito. The grip was well worn, the blade clean, and moved smoothly out of the sheath. From here I was allowed to try the authentic live blade. It was amazingly balanced and the heaviest of the three, but still light at only 2.2 pounds or so. I only did a few movements with the authentic blade, but it was thoroughly enjoyable.
What stood out most was the fact that a proper swing uses little strength, as the weight of the blade does most of the work, and creates an audible “woosh” or “woop” sound when performed properly due to the groove along the blade which I believe is called the “bohi.” In addition to the cutting techniques, the transferable technique into aikido was also demonstrated, and if nothing else, the two arts support and strengthen one-another. I was also surprised to find the way you hold the katana leaves a mark similar to golfing.
I was impressed with my first practice and hope to continue in iaido, as well as aikido.
Posted on March 31, 2016, in Iaido, Life in Japan, Martial Arts, 合気道 Aikido and tagged 2015, 2016, 2017, aikido, Aizu, bange, challenge, college, experience, Fukushima, Iaido, Japan, karate, katana, koryu, kyokushin, martial arts, mindofrion, mindofryan, mugenryu, ryan, samurai, shotokan, sword, Travel, university, why not.. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.