Iaijustu is commonly known as combative defensive swordsmanship. In one smooth motion, a master draws the sword to strike or cut a would be attacker, removing blood from the blade, and then replacing the sword in the saya.
An in-depth reading of the Japanese characters for iaijutsu is:
I = being, AI = harmony, JUTSU = skill or science. "The way of harmonizing oneself skillfully and scientifically in action”.
The Iaijutsuka (a practitioner of iaijutsu) wields a sword: not to control or stop an opponent, but by focus, skill and science to overcome his worst enemy; himself. Iaijutsuka practice to prepare for a surprise attack, where an immediate, efficient solution to a threat of aggression is necessary. Therefore, the technique must be highly refined. Every unnecessary movement is cut away in order to keep the kata in it's true form; "no waited movement". Techniques are kept simple and direct. The training method of the Iaijutsuka is extremely rigorous with the vision development every mental and physical resource into a single, impenetrable force of perfection and precision. Competition is irrelevant for the greatest achievement in iaijutsu is self-mastery.
Because self-mastery is often a lonely road, Iaijutsu like any true martial art form, consists of many kata reveal the impurities on the Iaijutsuka. Each kata of is a Haiku of the story of Iaijutsu and tells a tale with each and every movement completed successfully. Iaijutsu is revealed as well as mastered through kata - individual patterns with various interpretations of combat techniques. One of the 3 pinnacles of Iaijutsu is known as haya waza, or fast techniques. The second is the precise targeting of the weapon. The draw and the initial cut are the soul of Iaijutsu; to vanquish your opponent or opponents in a fast, accurate, single movement. Yet, the third pinnacle of Iaijutsu is to vanquish your opponent without even drawing your sword! One tries to achieve the development of his body, soul, mind, and strength to such a level that no opponent dare attack due to ones projection of confidence, peace, and strength. There is an old saying in iaijutsu - "kachi wa saya no naka ni ari: "victory comes while the sword is still in the scabbard.
Because Iaijustu is the art of "One cut, one kill ", it requires quickness and accuracy. One must be able to execute any the techniques from any position at any time, any place, or anywhere. Mental as well as physical fitness is critical for this reason. One must not be able to jump or lunge at an instant, but also must have the strength to control the weapon to strike the targets accurately. The most common way these strengths are obtained is through Tameshigiri. Tameshigiri is the Japanese art of target test cutting. The kanji literally mean "test cut" (kun'yomi: ためし ぎり tameshi giri). This practice was popularized in the Edo Period (17th century) for testing the quality of swords and continues through the present day.
“No fear, no surprise, no hesitation, no doubt.”
Miyamoto Musashi (1584 - 1645)
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