Iaido stands for the “art of unsheathing a sword” which originates in the Japanese Martial Arts of the Samurai. Thereby a sword is unsheathed in a way that it can be used as a weapon during the unsheathing. According to legend, Samurai Hayashizaki Shigenobu invented this kind of sword fight in the 16th century. His technique got the name “Battojutsu” which is literally translated to the “art of unsheathing a sword” and therefore is the oldest denomination for Iaido.
Every syllable of the word Iaido has a different meaning: The “i” covers the physical and mental presence, the “ai” stands for the consensus and the “do” means the way or the principle. For Martial Arts of Iaido one uses the “Katana” (a Japanese long sword) which can be lead by one or two hands.
To be able to study the right flows of movement, beginners often use a wooden sword (“Catana”), whereas more advanced persons use a training sword (“Iaito”) and the traditional clothing (“Hakama” and “Keikogi”) to correctly learn the art of unsheathing. Only the experienced get a real sword with a sharp blade (“Shin-Ken”) for training, because the production of such swords has to be authorized with a fee-based approval.
However, the goal of the Martial Art Iaido is not to be able to compete against a real opponent, but to improve someone’s own abilities and personality. The focus should lie within the precise and safe action of movement (“Kata”) where body, mind and sword should form a unit.
The usual structure of a “Kata” consists of “Nuki Tsuke” (unsheathing the sword and making the first step), “Kiri Tsuke” (more steps), “Chiburi” (shaking of the blood) and “Noto” (sheathing the sword). Iaido is mostly practiced alone, however, for the process of learning the correct use and the right speed of movements one can sometimes train with up to four opponents.