Iaido places significant emphasis on the correctness of forms (kata) and the underlying body posture (Taisabaki). Essentially, Iaido is a mental and physical discipline that calls for self-observation through repeated work on the kata. The movements may seem simple, but the requirement for consistency, and a relaxed state of mind can be challenging. In essence, it requires one to constantly challenge oneself, but at the same time, it offers a space to cultivate one's self-awareness.
The nature of Iaido practice meant that one may continue learning and practising Iaido well into one's golden years. A good Iai has intensity but is controlled. In a way, it arises through the development of mental calmness, which also helps in the sustainment of cognitive abilities as one age.
As one progresses in Iaido, one is gradually introduced to the notion that simply handling the katana, iaito or bokuto does not have much value in itself. Rather, the deeper meaning is to study and improve aspects of oneself, and also to build relationships with others. Indeed, maintaining strong relationships is one of many contributing factors towards maintaining a healthy state of being regardless of age.
Encountering senseis who remain down-to-earth, approachable, warm, and friendly can be a transformative revelation in the realm of learning. Their approachability breaks down barriers, fostering an environment where students feel comfortable, valued, and encouraged to explore their potential.
Like many other disciplines, in today's the relevance of Iaido learning is not just about acquiring information but also about fostering meaningful connections and personal growth. As older individuals persist in their practice and take on teaching roles, their commitment serves as a motivating example. The warm and friendly atmosphere they foster makes Iaido an inclusive space for individuals of all ages, emphasizing not only physical prowess but also the enduring spirit and resilience that can be cultivated through the practice of this traditional martial art. In the context of an ageing society, the dedication of older individuals to Iaido not only preserves the rich heritage of the art but also inspires others to embark on a journey of continued learning and physical well-being, demonstrating that age is no barrier to the pursuit of a fulfilling and meaningful practice.
Photos from World MJER Iaido Federation