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Iai

The way of being in harmony

Iaido - an ancient Japanese martial art. Methods of using a sword right after extracting it from the scabbards. There is a phrase in Japanese language, it sounds like "tsune-ni ite, kyu-ni awasu" meaning "wherever you are be ready to act immediately". One can translate the name of this martial art as "the way of being in harmony" or "the art of adjusting oneself to circumstances". Iai is one of budo tendencies, variety of Japanese art of handling sword and appeared as a way of defending from sudden attacks. The main feature is that a thrust starts at the moment of extracting a sword from the scabbards. Although, the techniques of whipping out the sword fast were known long time ago, the founder of this school was the first one to underline the potential mental and spiritual abilities of practicing iai.

The founder of this budo is considered to be Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto-no Shigenobu (1542-1621).

All the movements are performed in specific technical forms called kata. Kata were developed for different situations that could arise both in sword battle and sudden aggression. It is considered that Iaido technical forms are one of the most precise martial art's forms.

Despite its apparent simplicity, iaido demands not only good physical preparation, but also great level of psychological concentration and mobilization. That is why ancient Japanese samurai art continues to live nowadays. To be able to concentrate and mobilize all abilities for specific purpose is important for a modern man not less then for a worrior from the past.

Nowadays many of those who practice Iaidoused to train in any other budo arts, like karate, aikido or kendo, but very often come people without any experience in martial arts. All together they are atrackted by presice movements, coordination, mental concentration and, of course, the sense of mastering a weapon. To start practice can anyone, no matter what age or gender. One could say Iaido is quite extraordinary, though at the same time democratic budo school, where every man or woman can find oneself. For beginners Iaido is good to develop the body strenth, the sense of body movements' control. An accent is put on the correct stance and co-ordination of legs and arms work. Later, becoming more experienced, trainnes begin to increase speed and strength of movements. Little by little comes the sense of kata (sense of rhythm and spirit strength), appears self-confidence and the sense of dignity. The main aspect of progress in Iaido is to strive to self-improvement - this is the principal and main demand.

One can practice Iaido only by learning and sharpening just kata's technique and participating in specially organized tournaments if wanted. In Iaido gradation system is similar to one in karate or judo. There are trainee's grade (kyu) and masters degree (Dan). Specific character of iaido is that the color of the belt does not matter; it is needed just to hold the sword tightly to one's thigh.

Necessary equipment:
Gi
Hakama
Obi - needed to hold tightly the sword behind the belt (from one's left).
Iaito - sword for practicing Iai.
Bokken - trainig wooden sword, identical by form and weight to the real one.

Basic techniques:

  1. Nukitsuke - technique of taking out the sword
  2. Kirioroshi - the ways of inflicting vertical cut
  3. Chiburui - technique of swiping of the blood from the blade
  4. Noto - technique of sheathing the sword.

Stages of learning iaido:

  1. Upright positioning, learning basic movements, shiftings
  2. Expanding basic techniques
  3. Learning more complicated combinations, spirit development and the sense of the opponent (traditional manuscripts state samurai must have "two sights" - one with eyes, second - intuition).



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