Iaido is an art of Japanese swordsmanship. Training is based on the study and practice of kata or forms involving drawing, cutting and re sheathing actions from a variety of seated and standing situations. The techniques have a long colourful history in Japan and have been developed and refined over hundreds of years.
For the most part, forms are practised in a solo fashion against an imaginary opponent with paired exercises being introduced at advanced levels.
Modern iaido is based upon ancient techniques that allowed Japanese warriors from the feudal period to be able to defend themselves by quickly drawing their swords and cutting down adversaries in the event of an unsuspected attack.
Training initially involves the 12 standard forms (Seitei Kata) laid down by the All Japan Kendo Federation or Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (ZNKR). The original Seitei Iaido curriculum was developed by a technical committee of the ZNKR and introduced in 1968. The committee developed a set of 7 kata that were heavily influenced by the forms and techniques of a broad cross section of classical sword schools. Since the original kata were introduced, three kata were added in 1981 and a further two in 2000 bringing the set to a total of 12.
The 12 Seitei Kata are the basis of a system of Iaido training that offers a significant challenge and at the same time is extremely rewarding. The movements are often simple but can be very difficult to master. Ongoing practice builds the skill and understanding needed to perform each kata with precision and control.
Seitei is probably the most widely practised system of iaido in Japan and has a significant following throughout the world. The standard or seitei kata introduce the basic principles of sword handling and are widely used as a basis for grading and competition.
Koryu is a term for Japanese martial arts that predate the Meiji era. For more advanced students, Kuroyama Budokai provides the option to undertake deeper study of Iaido through the practise of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Koryu Iaido.
Whilst the practical applications of the art are obviously limited in modern times, Iaido remains relevant in its own right and as a means of supplementary training to any martial art or other activity. Regular training develops overall physical condition including coordination and posture, whilst the meditative aspects of practice also develop mental qualities of decisiveness and focus.
The dojo is affiliated with the ACT Kendo Renmei and students are eligible for internationally recognised grades issued by the Australian Kendo Renmei.
Gradings are generally scheduled for each term at the Kuroyama Budokai. Opportunities to sit for higher level gradings are held throughout the year in conjunction with instructional seminars.
The principle motto for Iaido training at Kuroyama Budokai is Kon Mu Sui Zan which can be translated as to cut as if cutting through water. It encapsulates the concept of cutting so precisely that a mark is barely visible.