Iaido, loosely translated, means “wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you should always be prepared”. Iaido is the art of drawing the sword, and was first developed as a means of gaining an advantage in combat over opponents before they could draw their sword. Today, the object of Iaido is to develop one’s mind, body and spirit, the emphasis being on developing the ability to remain calm and in control, especially when under pressure or facing a difficult situation.
We practice both Seitei iaido (modern) and Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu iaijutsu (traditional). Like many arts such as Judo/jujutsu, kendo/kenjutsu, there are ‘do’ & ‘jutsu’ elements to iai. Many people differenciate strongly between the two, but in reality they are one and the same. Iaido, which is a modern development and iaijutsu, which has 400 years of history should be practiced with the same mindset. The only notable difference is that seitei iaido is practiced with the form as a primary goal, whereas in koryu iaijutsu the purpose is to defeat the opponent. In reality, to practice one without the other is pointless, and as such, both do and jutsu are considered identical by serious practitioners.
As we practice both the old and new techniques, we remove such confusion by referring to our practice simply as iai.