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Old 01-19-2007, 08:49 AM   #1
Takumi
 
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Iaido & Aikido

I often see Iaido and Aikido practiced in the same dojo. So I was wondering, is there a connection between the two?
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:00 AM   #2
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Are you asking if there is a common historical root? Because there isn't. As far as I understand it, the connection comes from a number of deshi of Morihei (Kanai, Nishio, Chiba, etc) who in the 1950s and 1960s were trying to work their way into an understanding of the sword that was the source of aikido. Since the deshi didn't get direct instruction in the sword from Morihei, they went outside, to iaido and other sword arts, including Kashima ryu (eg, Sekiya, Inaba, Noguchi, etc), to deepen their understanding. The paired study of aikido supplemented with iaido, is now reproduced in a number of dojos that spring from the lineages founded by deshi like Nishio.
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:15 AM   #3
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Actually the type of iaido Nishio sensei has developed, is called Aikido toho iai or just Aiki toho iai,
and is not iaido per se, but a unique new Budo that is neither iai-jutsu or iaido, but a sword school
unique to Aikido having being developed for understanding Aikido.
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:20 AM   #4
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Quote:
Christian Boddum wrote:
Actually the type of iaido Nishio sensei has developed, is called Aikido toho iai or just Aiki toho iai,
and is not iaido per se, but a unique new Budo that is neither iai-jutsu or iaido, but a sword school
unique to Aikido having being developed for understanding Aikido.
But he did have formal training in an iaido ryu? Or am I mistaken?
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:47 AM   #5
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

What I read on Aikido Journal is that Nishio took up the study of iaido (Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu) with 10th dan Shigenori Sano in 1955. Which is really the point of my post: explaining how aikido and iaido happened to overlap because of the continuing search of some deshi.
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:59 AM   #6
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

There are some branches of Daito ryu (Aikido's predessor) that have fairly formal ties to Ono ha Itto ryu. Others have less formal ties, but the relationship is acknowledged. With aikido, it can be all over the map. Depending on what is/was available, someone's particular interest, etc.

Best,
Ron

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Old 01-19-2007, 10:10 AM   #7
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Did Ueshiba incorporate any sword training into Aikido like Iaido? or did it start after him?
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Old 01-19-2007, 10:17 AM   #8
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Yes, excuse me for being quick on the trigger !
I don't remember Nishio senseis ranking in iaido, but he was quite skilled.
What I mean is you will often see Aiki Toho iai practiced in Aikido dojos today,
because of Nishio sensei.
But Aiki toho iai is still not widely trained, so you will encounter other types of iaido trained
in Aikido dojos.
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Old 01-19-2007, 11:12 AM   #9
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

While it seems to be difficult to find the historic link between Aikido and Iaido, the conceptual link seems obvious (to me).

Both arts do not primarily teach competitive fights, where both competitors are prepared to fight (kamae, sword drawn), but teach to expect the unexpected without seeking a trap, if there is none.

Both arts prepare for defense against cunning attacks from a disadvantageous position. If you have a sword you can try draw it and strike instantaneously. If not you counter the attack instantaneoulsy as well.

The major difference lies in the characteristics of the sword. If its drawn, it is nearly mandatory kill or die situation, which was mostly the same for Daito-Ryu as far as I understood.

Aikido offers the chance for an end with two survivors.

Cheers

Dirk
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Old 01-19-2007, 11:51 AM   #10
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Quote:
Dylan Clements wrote:
Did Ueshiba incorporate any sword training into Aikido like Iaido? or did it start after him?
Ellis Amdur has a few articles written over at Aikido Journal that deal with this very subject and more.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/?author=8

Well worth reading.

Mark
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Old 01-19-2007, 12:19 PM   #11
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Quote:
Dylan Clements wrote:
I often see Iaido and Aikido practiced in the same dojo. So I was wondering, is there a connection between the two?
The short answer is, "No." As others have stated, there is no historical or fundamental association between these two arts. It should be pointed out also, that "iaido" is not as specific a term as "aikido", but rather a blanket term for a number of various ryu-ha that share a common thread of beginning many (or all) of their kata with the sword in the saya. Specifics of strategy, technique and sylabus vary wildly between different groups or sometimes lines of the same ryu-ha. Many more comprehensive kenjutsu or sogo bugei ryu-ha include some iaido/jutsu as part of their sylabus even if they do not consider themselves a line of "iaido" per se.

So why do so many aikido schools offer some form of iai? I believe the answer is twofold: compatible philosophy of combat and pure availability.

-Philosophy: Like aikido, it's possible to find quite disparate levels of intensity and focus on martial effectiveness in iai. This makes it relatively easy for a teacher to find a style of iai that's in keeping with the overall flavor of their aikido dojo. Iai ranges from KISS pragmatic approaches to quiet reflective personal growth exercises. In most iai, the kata are relatively simple: an explosive draw cut followed by one or more follow up cuts that continue the advantage gained by the irimi of the draw. Both arts tend to assume a confrontation welling up from nothing, or conversely, the assumption that one is always 'on' and ready for confrontation. Ichi go ichi e. While most kenjutsu kata (and most aiki-ken) will demonstrate and exchange of blows back and forth, iai aims to end the conflict at the very beginning before the opponent can finish their intent. That alone (IMHO) makes iai a better pairing with aikido than the vast majority of aikiken, Nishio's aiki-toho a noteable exception.

-Location, location, location: Second and possibly even more important, is that iai is relatively common in the west and tends to be very open to new students. Iaido followed the spread of kendo, both in the standardized form (seitei iai) not specific to any one ryu-ha, and in the koryu version (often MSR or MJER). Many kendo sensei consider kendo and iaido to be two sides of the same coin, so they brought their study of iai wherever they went with their kendo. This is in stark contrast to many of the more comprehensive bugei ryu-ha that are nearly non-existant in the west, and where they do exist, *often place very strict guidelines on who and what can be taught outside of their authorized dojos.*

I've commented elsewhere on Nishio's aiki-toho, I find it an excellent compliment to his aikido system. I find it notable that he developed it to be more like iai than the more common aiki-ken systems of Saotome or Saito. His aikido also refelcts some of the specific mechanics of iai.

Where it falls apart.
The biggest problem with most iai and aikido pairing, is that they specifics of movement in most aikido doesn't actually jive very well with what's taught in iai. Iai tends towards a much more frontal posture over the extreme hanmi seen in aikido, for example. But again, there's so much variation, that even this isn't a deal breaker. Frankly, I think if people did their aikido with more iai structure, the art would be the better for it.

Last edited by ChrisMoses : 01-19-2007 at 12:33 PM.

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Old 01-19-2007, 12:25 PM   #12
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Excellent post Chris...and I might add, that in styles of aikido where there is a very forward, squared kamae, you might find it easier to adjust and relate to iai...

Best,
Ron

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Old 01-19-2007, 01:29 PM   #13
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

If Aikido is an art coming to us from the Samurai and developed through the sword, the staff and jujutsu, then I believe that one would compliment the other.

Iaido should be effective against someone attacking.

In an article written by Kimberley Taylor from the Asian Martial Arts Journal, Volume 5 Number 2 - 1996: "Japanese Sword Instructor Haruna Matsuo."

"Iaido is the art of drawing the sword. The word iai comes from the phrase "tsune ni itte kyu ni awasu, " meaning "always, whatever you are doing, whether sleeping, walking, running, or sitting (tsune ni)" and "wherever you are (itte iru)" you must "be ready or be prepared to recreate harmony or balance (awasu)." Iai comes from itte and awasu and is a short way of remembering this phrase"

This sounds like the same stuff we're doing in Aikido. If a movement is creating harmony, then it's creating harmony. If it's not, then that would not be very Aikido-like, nor Iaido-like.

Erik Sasha Calderon
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Old 01-19-2007, 02:54 PM   #14
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Quote:
Erik Calderon wrote:
If Aikido is an art coming to us from the Samurai and developed through the sword, the staff and jujutsu, then I believe that one would compliment the other.
I'll just say that's a big IF in my mind, and also glosses over the amazing variation between traditional ryu-ha. Sometimes things compliment each other, but often one system of movement is completely contrary to another.


Quote:
Erik Calderon wrote:
In an article written by Kimberley Taylor from the Asian Martial Arts Journal, Volume 5 Number 2 - 1996: "Japanese Sword Instructor Haruna Matsuo."
Ha ha ha ha, Kim Taylor is a dude, not a Kimberly.

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Old 02-07-2007, 06:05 PM   #15
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Is Iaido less physically strenuous than Aikido?
Does anyone know a good place to train Iaido in Miami?
How dangerous is using live blades in iaido / do most schools allow their use?

Thanks,
Drew
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Old 02-07-2007, 06:45 PM   #16
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
I'll just say that's a big IF in my mind, and also glosses over the amazing variation between traditional ryu-ha. Sometimes things compliment each other, but often one system of movement is completely contrary to another.




Ha ha ha ha, Kim Taylor is a dude, not a Kimberly.
In the most general sense having an iai background is helpful to ones Aikido. The antecendents of the modern empty hand forms were largely forms of weapons retention and involved protecting the weapon and unbalancing, then cutting the opponent. If oen has abit of sword back ground, this is far easier to understand. We had Tby Threadgill Sensei come do a seminar on the relationship between sword and empty hand technique and it very much enlarged my understanding of where our techniques came from. One of the very important things one learns from doing techniques as they were originally done with a sword in the obi is that one is not tempted to attempt to power with the arms because the hands are on the sword and saya at most times.

The other thing I've noticed is that the Aikido people I have seen who have substantial weapons background are simply shraper and more precise intheir movements than folks who have just done empty hand with little weapons work. Then, of those folks, one can usually spot the people who have actually used a blade as opposed to just a bokken as they are sharper and more precise still. However, the folks who have just done Iaido (as opposed to batto jutsu) and haven't done paired bokken work (or some other paired work like Kendo) often lack the strong intention that comes from either doing paired work or at least osmething like batto jutsu which places more emphasis on actual application than Iaido which is a solo practice.

Understanding that there are basically three ways to energize the blade with a sword (energy in the tip - cutting; energy in the whole blade - slicing; and energy in the hands - slipping and striking) is very usefule in better understanding of empty hand work. All sword styles have some version of these but each would be fairly unique and to really master a style one would have to really internalize that system's principles. As Chris points out, this might not directly transfer to ones Aikido. Or, one might find one changing ones Aikido based on something in ones sword training. There's certainly room for that in Aikido. There is probably not room for that the other way around. Most Iaido or Batto Jutsu training will require strict adherence to thier specific body movement system. Drift from Aikido into ones sword style is often very problematical for folks doing both.

I did enough Iaido to have a decent set of basics. But my interest is in Aikido so I did not pursue more formal training after a point. My iai work is strictly a reflection of my Aikido. Like Nishio Sensei, I have developed my own iai forms which relate directly to the Aikido weapons and empty hand work we do. I am sure that any swordsman with a deep iai background would see all sorts of issues in what we do but It accomplishes what I wanted relative to the rest of my training.

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Old 02-07-2007, 08:48 PM   #17
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote:
Is Iaido less physically strenuous than Aikido?
Does anyone know a good place to train Iaido in Miami?
How dangerous is using live blades in iaido / do most schools allow their use?

Thanks,
Drew
Drew, I can't speak for anyone else, but despite the exclusively solo nature of (most) iai kata, I've always found iai training to be every bit as physically exhausting as any aikidojo I've ever trained with. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that iai requires incredible concentration and mental focus while training, which in and of itself can make for a very physically taxing session. Naturally, there is little danger of getting hurt by others in iai (aside from the occasional instructive smack from Sensei), but it is quite easy to hurt oneself in a moment of lapsed concentration.

As for using live blades in the dojo, this again is probably variable from one dojo to another. In the school of iai I belong to (Hoshino-ha Hoki-ryu), no one uses anything other than either iaito (sometimes called "mogito," a replica katana with a zinc-aluminum blade) or shinken. Although Kimura Sensei encourages all of his students to use shinken if possible, the prohibitive prices keep most lower level students using iaito. However, once a student attains the rank of 6th dan in the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (All Japan Kendo Federation), he/she is required to use a shinken, at least in our school. I understand that many iai schools require new students to use bokuto for a certain period of time, but my school is not one of them.

I hope you can find some good iai training in your area. It really is a fascinating way to become incredibly frustrated.
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Old 02-08-2007, 05:10 AM   #18
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Thanks Brett. I'll be sure to get into top shape before I get back into martial arts or take up a new one such as Iaido. I may look into private lessons, so I can go at my own pace. At this point, I just want to learn enough Iaido to the point that it will help my Aikido, and so I know how to properly cut tatami. There used to be a picture at Shindai dojo in Orlando of a severed hand that haunts me to this day: "Draw first, then cut!" I don't want to be that guy!

Drew
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Old 02-08-2007, 08:33 AM   #19
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Iaido and Aikido

Hi Drew,

If you're looking to learn to cut tatami mats (tameshigiri), be sure to find a school that does it, as it is certainly not universal to all iai dojo. I've never done it in my life, and unless I actively pursue it outside of my iai training, I probably never will. This is not to say that there's anything wrong with tameshigiri; on the contrary I'm very impressed with the many demonstrations I've seen of it. It's just that it's not part of our syllabus. There are some schools of iai that do it, and there are even schools that do tameshigiri but don't practice iai or kenjutsu kata. As always, be sure of what you're looking for and what you're getting before joining a school, and you'll be in good shape.
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Old 02-08-2007, 08:40 AM   #20
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

If you train in Toyama-ryu Batto-do, you will do a lot of tatami cutting. There are quite a few of these schools. Bob Elder Sensei at East Coast Martial Arts Supplies in Orlando is a principal instructor in that organization, and probably could give you any info you might need.
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Old 02-08-2007, 08:46 AM   #21
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote:
I'll be sure to get into top shape before I get back into martial arts or take up a new one such as Iaido. I may look into private lessons, so I can go at my own pace. At this point, I just want to learn enough Iaido to the point that it will help my Aikido, and so I know how to properly cut tatami.
Drew
Most schools of Iai don't require you to be in top shape, just healthy. I wouldn't worry too much about private lessons, most schools of iai/batto are quite small so everyone gets the individual attention that they need. You often learn a lot from watching those around you train. If you want to learn tameshigiri (target cutting) you should ask your prospective sensei if they do this, several lines of iaido strictly fobid this practice, others consider it essential.

A quick comment on George's post. Most of the sword guys I know much prefer to see what he's describing (sword work based on aikido techniques and promoted as such) over "XY-ryu" kenjutsu/iaido done without the depth of knowledge that would be required to truly transmit a living tradition. Just developing a familiarity with the sword (particularly within the context of aikido) can be hugely beneficial. I agree also with the comments about clarity of motion by serious sword practitioners, you can often just tell that someone does iai or some other sword training by watching their open hand waza. The first time I met Clint George, I knew about his training at Shingu and his study of the bo, but I'd never heard anyone mention his iai training. After the first day of the seminar, my first question to him was, "What style of iai do you do?" to which he answered, "Eishin ryu, what about you?" without missing a beat.

I got into sword through aiki-ken (actually a version of the aiki-toho), but then found a teacher of iai-battojutsu. At first it was a way to add to my aikido. Today, I still study iai, but I'm taking some time off from aikido.

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Old 02-08-2007, 09:34 AM   #22
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:

I got into sword through aiki-ken (actually a version of the aiki-toho), but then found a teacher of iai-battojutsu. At first it was a way to add to my aikido. Today, I still study iai, but I'm taking some time off from aikido.
Chris, I would encourage you to keep training in your Aikido. I say this, not because you need Aikido but because Aikido needs you. If you look at the Koryu folks. the vast majority did Aikido early on. Then they found the koryu and most stopped training (Larry Bieri Sensei being a notable exception).

I have lost students to Kenjutsu and Systema. These are very serious students who loved Aikido but simply didn't have time to keep up their training and wanted to experience the depth of what these other arts offered. I don't know that, If I were young again, I wouldn't do the same thing.

But if Aikido is to truely have some depth, folks like yourself have to go out there and get the experience to bring back into tha art and make it better. Having trained fairly broadly over the years, and continue to do so, I can say that I see no reason why Aikido should not offer the same depth of experience and the same understanding of martial principle which other arts offer. The fact that it often does not is a reflection on the lack of background on the part of the teachers charged with passing it on.

For this situation to get better there have to be some folks who love the art enough to stay in and make it better rather than jump ship to something else. I am now starting to see what Aikido has that is unique; the aspect of the art which another art might not have. The outside training I have done has been central to this understanding. I hope that now I am in a position to start putting that knowledge into the Aikido community at large. There has to be a "critical mass" of folks who do this for Aikido to start progressing rather than deteriorating.

I know that, for an Aikido student who cross trains, there is often not much encouragement. Stray outside recognized parameters and folks get very uncomfortable. Teachers especially have a hard time when students have experience which they do not have. But I encourage you to stay in Aikido actively and look for how the training you get outside can make the art better. The art needs folks like you; it can't keep losing them.

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Old 02-08-2007, 12:58 PM   #23
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Re: Iaido & Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Chris, I would encourage you to keep training in your Aikido. I say this, not because you need Aikido but because Aikido needs you.
Thanks George, I really appreciate your comments. This probably deserves a longer response, but the short version is that I still study what I consider to be Aikido. What that is however, is different enough from what most would consider aikido, that we typically refer to it as aikibudo, aikijujutsu or just jujutsu for simplicity's sake. I don't think I'll ever be a part of mainstream aikido again, but at some point if I can add something back to the art, that would be great. How and when that happens is too far out for me to guess.

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