Iaido - A Beginner's perspective
This article is a perspective from one of our fellow Iaidokas.
Contributor: Ronald, Editor: Valeth
"I was looking for a form of meditation in motion and finally decided on Iaido. Truth be told, Iaido was not the first on the list - I explored other options such as cycling to Bonsai. But you could say that the affinity with these was not there. I also tried the typical meditation exercises that involve sitting for long periods of time but something about my physiology disagrees with sitting still for long.
At some point in my teenage years, I became enamored by Budo. However, I put off the thought of actually trying the forms of Budo due to personal aversion to contact sports. It was not until I had the chance to encounter Iaido, that things seem to click in place. Iaido sounded like everything I had been looking for in a meditative activity. I needed more details, and there was only one way to find out. Little did I know this would mark the beginning of my path on Budo through Iaido. I practiced Iaido at the Dojo. Though nested just on the outskirts of the bustling Central Business District, it is a physical space set apart from the hustle and bustle of city life. Because of this, I looked forward to every opportunity I have at the Dojo.
Changing into my Gi and Hakama is a form of ritual (so to speak). It further insulates my mind as I set aside the mental and emotional noise accumulated over the day. It is in this quiet safe space under the guidance of my fellow Senpais that I confront myself. Superficially, Iaido may not appear to be what most people would immediately associate with being a stress reliever - it is not an activity that allows you to vent your frustrations like punching a bag or hitting a ball.
Iaido provides a tranquil platform from which I may sharpen my focus and concentration; I have found that having an external object with which I channel my body’s focus really helps with removing distractions. As I apply myself wholly in the wielding of the Bokuto or Iaito, I observed that my mind is still (well, as still as it can be). The Iaito provides feedback that lets me know if I’m doing a particular technique correctly. These feedback range from Tachikaze (the sound of a cut), the weight of the Iaito to Body posture in the transitions within the Waza and end-points of a Waza. Everything in Iaido requires control and precision.
In a calm and absolute way, Iaido provides a mirror with which I’m confronted with my own physical abilities as well as limitations. Executing the Wazas with good form has made me more aware of my body alignment and posture. This brought several unexpected benefits. For example, I had gradually corrected my drooping neck caused by long hours working on the computer. Another example is the conscious control of my breath during Mokuso (meditation) and during practice has conditioned me to be more focused and present in my movements and intentions, not just within the Dojo but also in my profession. I am grateful that I was able to eventually find something that is such a good fit for me and I’m looking forward to the journey ahead."
Interested persons may reach out to contact us to learn more about Iaido. While the Dojo is closed until further notice, readers may follow our site for articles, feature art (yes, we do them periodically) to pass the time. #Stayhome_staysafe
Though the current covid-19 situation has led to the closure of the Dojo, this is temporary. Iaidokas can still train within the confines of their own home, by themselves or connect through on-line practice. Understandably, the focus would be adjusted to discussions, focus on basics (Kihon, Nukitsuke, Suburi). Members may reach out to fellow members for online practices if they'd like.