Iaido is a budo form of iai battojutsu which is originally bujutsu. It indicates a kind of self discipline not only in terms of physical and technical training using Japanese sword from drawing to putting up and the manners that accompany the movements, but also in terms of personality development.
Japan is the only country in the world today which practices such art – the technique of drawing, moving the sword and putting up all while you sit throughout the entire movement – as a form of budo, and is extremely rare.
Grades are classified into dan and kyu in which you work through by performing certain patterns as well as passing qualification tests. As you proceed from the lower to the higher level, you obtain the titles of renshi, kyoushi and ultimately hanshi. In respect of grades, judan-hanshi (grade ten hanshi) will be the ultimate goal, however, since the art is of battle against yourself it is not too much to say that it has not perfection or completion.
The iai matches, unlike other forms of budo, requires no components or targets to physically fight against. It is more of and art in that sense rather than a fighting technique. The matches are fought between groups (groups consisted of people who usually belong to different schools) and are judged by referees based on their (majority vote or points) performance points.
To be always aware of movements around you – to be prepared to react against any attack from any direction even while you are sitting and being able to draw out your sword and get the attacker before s/he gets you: this is the ultimate form of single strike self-defense. “Inagaranishite awaseru touhou”, this is “iai” and is not the easiest thing in the world to master.
Not only that, the esoterica of this ultimate budo make it a principle to win without even drawing the sword. Its acquaintanceships are as follow:
1) solve the problem peacefully through discussion/ negotiation
2) mentally and spiritually discipline yourself through daily training, to obtain inner strength strong enough to disable your opponent to draw his sword (this is the innermost secret of the so-called katsuninken).
It continues as “even in case you need to draw your sword as the last resort, do not draw before the other yet get the other before he gets you. If possible, do not allow your enemy to finish drawing his sword.”
Along with kyudo introduced in the previous volume, the one and only way to achieve higher goals is to face yourself honestly.
Although you do not physically fight anyone or anything, you still compete. Because you can train yourself accordingly to your level and physical ability/ strength and also use a sword, it is visually beautiful and discreet raising the popularity outside of Japan these days.