This articles continues the thematic discussion for learning and teaching. The correct starting point or perspective towards learning martial arts should be primarily for self-improvement. This is critical; given the forms of knowledge application is driven by the user's intent. In other words, Iaido can be likened to a tool. Its applications are influenced by intent (also known as the heart, "Kokoro" in Dojo jargon).
We would like to use the opportunity to share some guiding principles from Master Kōno Hyakuren, 20th Head of the Musō-jikiden Eishin-ryu School of Iaido.
Precepts of Master Kōno Hyakuren, 20th Head of the Musō-jikiden Eishin-ryu School of Iaido
"I sincerely hope that those who seek to learn the teachings of this school will maintain throughout their training a firm resolution to correctly transmit to later practitioners the forms of our school that former masters have handed down from ancient times to the present day, absolutely uncolored by personal philosophy and in no way altered. The sword and the mind are one. If the mind is true, the sword will be true. If the mind is untrue, the sword also will be untrue. Those who seek to learn the sword should pursue not the perfection of certain techniques, but rather a profound understanding of their origin. Their aim should be to govern the self through the practice of techniques, thereby making possible the complete development of the mind. Know that iaido is an approach to life. It is a lifelong endeavor not lightly to be abandoned, and a pursuit that requires one’s complete dedication."
Eagled-eyed readers would probably notice some interesting points in Master Kōno Hyakuren's principles - having the intent of maintaining correct transmission. Intent (Kokoro) drives the application, maintaining and more, such as learning and self-discovery of Iaido. Therefore, cultivating the correct Kokoro is first and foremost critical aspect for Iaido.