I started training in iaido because many high level aikido teachers I have worked with have said that one cannot develop beyond a certain point in aikido if one does not practice swordwork. Since then I have come to appreciate iaido for its own sake; I find that iai develops a distinct sense of spirit and dignity.
Still, I have also found that it does complement aikido very well. It specifically develops an awareness of centerline, maai, and zanshin in ways that manifest in my aikido waza.
I have also discovered some setbacks. I just got back from a weekend of very detailed iaido training, and my mindset was very step by step attention to where and how I am cutting and moving my body. During aikido training last night (my first night back since the weekend of iaido) my teacher said to me "your're not flowing". He was right.
I will say that after having practiced iai for a while I have learned many things about swordwork that are not taught explicitly in aikido even if you do aikiken / kumitachi. And most of it is not incompatible.
Is iaido a better complement to aikido than karatedo, judo, or any other art? Well that depends on your goals in training. If you want to learn how to wear, handle, and cut with a Japanese sword then it's a good choice. However, it is very esoteric and many criticize it for its nitpicky attention to detail.
Last edited by cguzik : 03-14-2007 at 04:41 PM.