Short History of IaidoMost modern schools consider a samurai called Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu (1546-1621) as the originator of iaido. As the knownledge about his life is pretty poor, some scholars doubt his existence as a historical figure. The two largest schools of iaido that are practised today, Muso Shinden-ryu and Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, claim both a lineage starting with Hayashizaki.
While not a hard and fast rule, frequently the word iaido is used to refer to the modern self improvement oriented form taught by the All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF) and other iaido associations while iaijutsu is used for the older, combative techniques of the koryu. The word iaido itself was coined by Nakayama Hakudo (1873-1958) in early 20th century. Before that various other names like batto-, batto-jutsu, or saya no uchi were used instead.
What's my personal experience with IaidoI've started iaido in the year 1997 at an university course. I can remember the first training hours in an old school hall. Although I have come a little bit too late, because of the public transport system in Hamburg, it feels right from the beginning to do this. The first form, I've learned was the Kata "Ukenagashi", one of the twelve Katas from the basic school of the → Seitei Iai (at that time the Seitei Iai contains only ten Katas). "Ukenagashi" means take and give back. So you transform the drive from an opponent sword to give the strike back to the opponent itself. With a wooden sword, a bokken, we exercised this Kata first with a partner and afterwards alone in self studies.
Although this lesson is now quite some time ago there are a few things that have not changed since then. One thing is the joy and excitement that comes from practising and learning. Of course progress is not a linear thing (the more training you have, the more you learn), but also deals with frustration and times of stagnation. It depends maybe on the personal speed of learning, that can't be pushed by force. In the end I remember this first training hour to recognize that I don't do this because I have to, but want to. The joy and excitement that comes from practising and learning is a value of its own, that holds as long as you do it. If there is no joy in the daily practise, there is definetely something going wrong.
The other experience I remember was te rhythm of partner excercises with a Bokken, that is a wooden imitation of a sword, and later the self studies with an → iaito . So the training element of partner excercises exists, but the main work has to be done fighting with your inner imaginary oponnent. This is at the beginning of the iaido training something you get used to, but in the end it turns out (at least to my mind) as the most efficient way to work on your personal human development.
So if you get interested in Iaido, just drop in and find out →