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What is the difference between iaido and iaijutsu?

 

 

 

Face to face with death!

 

 

 

What is the purpose of training in iaijutsu?

 
What is Iaijutsu?


Iaido and Iaijutsu are both names for what is essentially the same art. "-Do" means "Way" in Japanese, and "-jutsu" means "art," so iaido is the Way of iai, and iaijutsu is the art of iai. For most, "iai" is the art of drawing a samurai sword and cutting the opponent in the same, fluid motion. However, there is a deeper understanding of the meaning of "iai."

"Iai" literally means to "remain face-to-face." Thus, iaijutsu and iaido are the art and Way of being face-to-face with an opponent. This tells a lot about the the nature of iaijutsu, and of the personal discipline it involves. "Iai" means you are standing little more than an arm's length from an opponent who is weilding the sharpest-edged weapon ever fashioned from steel -- an opponent who is intent on killing you with that weapon. It is a defensive art, which means your sword is still in its scabbard when this deadly face-to-face confrontation begins. And your opponent is a samurai . . . meaning he or she is among what are possibly the best-trained, most highly disciplined, and lethal warriors who have ever lived. So you are literally an arm's length from sudden death!

While all weapons have the capacity to kill, most can also be used to subdue, incapacitate, or disarm an opponent. Not the samurai sword! When it dis-arms someone, the person's arm falls to the ground! 400 years ago that person would surely die from the wound or the subsequent infection. For that reason, the victor -- out of compassion -- would finish the opponent off to prevent his or her suffering. So, the samurai sword has only one purpose and capability . . . to kill. Thus, is a very real sense, iaido or iaijutsu is the art or Way of coming face-to-face with death.

This, obviously, has profound philosophical and spiritual implications for the iaido-ka (the practitioner of iaido), as we explore in the book, Flashing Steel.

 

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