Iaidō - The Way of Swordsmanship
The historical birth of Iaido traditionally dates back to the second year of the EIROKU era, and it was born thanks to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu (1546-1621). It is said that 20-year-old Hayashinzaki went to a shinto sanctuary, where he stayed and kept praying for 100 days. At the end of these days, he had a dream in which he was taught the technique for drawing the sword from its scabbard.
That's how the young Hayashinzaki created the first Iaido style, which he called Shinmei Muso Ryu (神明無双流). A temple was built in honor of Hayashinzaki: the "Hayashinzaki Kai Jinja". After his death, his disciples changed the swordsmanship style's name to Shin Muso Hayashinzaki Ryu (新夢林崎想流).
At that very time, a long period of peace and stability started in Japan: the Tokugawa period (1600-1868). Thanks to peace and prosperity, the art of Swordsmanship experienced substantial changes: Bujutsu 武術 became Budo 武道, and consequently Iaijutsu 居合術 became Iaido 居合道. That's how, historically, Swordsmanship became a spiritual Way.
It's no coincidence that the final goal of Iaido is summed up in the sentence "Saya no uchi" 鞘の内(で勝つ), which means winning without drawing the Sword. Iaido practice strengthens the body and the mind. Its objective is to forge an all-round human character, which is strong but refined, vigorous but understanding.
The body of the Iaido practitioner is a laboratory; the practitioner needs to turn it into a temple in which strength and refinement, justice and comprehension, determination and softness live all together in harmony.
In Iaido, the only true enemy against which we fight is "personal Will".
The sword needs to cut every kind of personalism, both the positive and the negative kind. Only if we practice in an "Impersonal" way will we be able to say that we practice the Way of the Sword.
A wise man once defined Iaido as a "moving prayer"; this definition can be linked to a quote about the Art of Prayer by a 'father of the desert': "If you want to make a dignified prayer, repudiate yourself in every moment" (Evagrio Pontico).
Hakuo Sagawa - Seitei Iaido
Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei Iaido
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