Kamae, Speed, Power, Might
Updated: Feb 29, 2020
The different proficiency tiers of Iaido may be segregated as Kamae, Speed, Power, Might.
Kamae - Posture or stance paves the first requisite for good waza. Incorrect kamae compromises a waza's effectiveness and in longer term may induce injuries. Everyone's bio-mechanics is different. It helps to practice slowly and understand how your own bio-mechanics work.
Speed - The term "Speed" refers to a speed of waza. But a more fitting perspective is the efficiency and smoothness in waza execution. As the body attunes to the muscle-memory for the waza's kamae, the speed of performing a waza naturally increases. Also, with improved understanding in kihon, unnecessary movements could be minimized. This improves overall speed of waza execution.
Power - Power of waza's technique develops naturally through correct Kamae and speed. With body posture remaining generally relaxed and and appropriate force applied only where needed, this is when a waza's power can emerge. An analogy is the cracking of a whip. Similarly, the power (in a part of a waza; say, nukitsuke) manifests with the correct kamae and application of right amount of force at the right time.
Might - The might expressed in a waza comes naturally with the attainment of the above three aspects. It cannot be forced nor rushed. Forcing it undermines the natural application of power; one's waza becomes too jerky. Rushing it disrupts "Jo-Ha-Kyu"; one's waza rhythm becomes unnatural.
Self-awareness helps in uncovering areas for improvement. For example, what is one's state of mind when practicing a waza? Is it forced or relaxed? Slow down and self-examine own waza - why does this part of the waza feel odd? Why is the iaito drawing not smooth?
It always helps to return to the basics (Kihon or basic waza), when seeking how best to improve one's waza. Advanced wazas are but an amalgamation of basic wazas with advanced techniques. A good foundation in basic kihon helps make the Iaido journey a more fruitful one.