What is Iaido? and Which type of sword should you use?
Iaido is a martial art that involves the use of Japanese long sword: the Katana. The goal is to perform with a smooth and efficient motion as possible. When it comes to Iaido sword there are several contenders for this from Iaito to Shinken. For Iaido, a Katana is used. Wakizashi may be used but a standard Iaido kata practice calls for using Katana. Conformity is important because a sword must be made in certain way for a traditional Katana to pass restrictions. Iaido has manage to exist because there are individuals who saw value in the skills as a tool for modern martial arts training. There is also that fact that the philosophy use in training can benefit anyone in ordinary life circumstances as well.
Iaido is an offshoot of Kendo which is a traditional form of Japanese martial arts. To the untrained eye Iaido seems strange because it is not what can be expected about sword fighting. While viewing a swordsman moving slowly in a series of starts and stops it does not make sense at all. Iaido is not about sword fighting but, its main purpose is to become better at using a sword. learning from Iaido can be used as a form of physical conditioning and personal development.
Those who look from the outside may view practicing this art as something so easy. It may look easy but, the end result will produce tons of sweat with an improvement on the level of sword handling. Sticking strictly to prescribe movements is physically taxing. Iaido is an art of self-defence where practitioner draws the sword immediately to parry the attack of the enemy. Speed has its place when it is use correctly. Practicing slowly and building up will help the practitioner gain skill when it is necessary to accelerate. These are not like simple dance movements as some who are not familiar about this practice thinks, although it might look that way. The perfect definition would be that it is a moving meditation.
For those who practice Iaido it is all about recreating the feeling of a real encounter. Being prepared beforehand will prevent too much focus on the technical aspects of the training. The actual practice is tangible and down to earth. A typical class will start with a formal opening following a set of etiquettes before proceeding on practicing the fundamental skills. The right way to perform the Kata is by doing it very slowly and quickly at the same time. A common practice would be to group students into two: one observes while the other performs. Using this method will help students learn about what they do right and their flaws that is needed to be corrected. For those who want to sincerely learn this practice they must be humble enough to listen to corrections. Although some might view practicing Iaido sword skills alone it is not really a solitary form of practice. Iaido sword can only be use when sufficient skills are hone so that the sword can be handle in safety.
Shinken or Iaito?
The use of sharpened swords is a must in some schools, while other schools restrict the use of sharp swords until a student have achieved some level of practice, there is always the risk of cutting yourself when using a sharp sword, as in Iaido, each Kata involves of unsheathing the sword and sheathing it with a feeling and concentration only, while eyes should be focused on the target, therefore there it is recommended for beginners to start with a non sharp sword, while more advance students choose sharp swords to handle. the best way to practice is using a sword with an actual weight of a real sword, that way you train your body and mind to use the Japanese Katana properly. if you are looking to buy a Katana for Iaido practice, you can choose your preferred sword here or build your custom Katana in this page.