What is iaido?
Iaido The way of drawing the sword.
Iaido is the art of reacting to a surprise attack by counter attacking with a sword.
An in-depth reading of the Japanese characters for iaido is:
I being, AI harmony, DO way . "The way of harmonising oneself in action”.-Shimabukuro Masayuki Kyoshi* Eishin Ryu Iaido
I bring this to light share some practical defense options related to the sword drawing arts for your and my safety against attackers. I've encountered many people who admire the sword and am asked is there something quick I can learn without having to pay for lessons so on and so forth...lol.
Well for starters fine swords are very expensive, but for the guerilla in the know standard steel can be very effective, especially steel blades that have a rating of "440 stainless steel" or better" usually this is embosed on the knife or sword at your local martial art shop or blade dealer. Since few of us are ready to splurge on a fine crafted sword where the steel is folded anywhere from 7 to 18 times for durability let us begin on this level.
440 stainless steel is durable and can be resharpened several times before giving way, some people will argue that surgical steel is better because it's much much sharper however it's just that much more fragile.
Before purchasing any long blade consider where you intend to keep it...for those keeping it in the house or apartment examine a few things.
1. Room size...if I purchase a long blade will I have room to rotate my arms body legs and so on with this extended part of my body with ease? This comes into play if you have a loved one in the room with you as well...if they intend to defend themselves from your side of the bed to the nearest wall back to the center of your bed...does this afford them enough room to stay out of your way without being hurt and protect themselves with whatever weapon they have?
2. Hall ways...are my hall ways narrow? if so would it be best to control a blade that I can maximize my power and at the same time not leave myself open to attack by attempting too large a motion whether offense or defense keep this in mind as it is of utmost importance.
3. If this all sound like too much to think about think about this...flat palm to navel. A decent size sword (machette even for that matter) handle should not (with point to floor) should not reach above ones belly button. In urban quarters where space is tight this can make a world of difference in your ability to defend against an attack.
4. Practice with this in mind....when imagining an on coming attack focus on a core or center of the body and outline an octagon in that center take time to imagine the human body you'll notice that what falls into this octagon are limbs and vital areas to target but always think of running that blade thru that center when slashing. The Katana is a slashing weapon not truly designed for stabbing.
5. These are not end all techniques respect your weapon and yourself enough to investigate further a good book to purchase for quick understanding is a book entitled flashing steel Eishin Ryu by Masayuki Shimabukuro.
I always advise people to take classes from people who are Enlightened spiritually enough to provide proper insight on this...so whether it be Kendo, Iaido or a few summers choppin' sugar cane...get to know your sharp blade in order to become a faster blade.