About Iaido

Flemming Madsen sensei (renshi nanadan, Nippon Iaido Renmei; Men no Maki, Mugai Ryu Iai Hyodo) offers a weekly iaido class for Baltimore Aikido members on Saturdays from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. Additional classes led by Devin Rushing-Schurr are offered on Sundays from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. and Thursdays from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

The class focuses on basic posture, movement, drawing and cutting techniques found within the Mugai-ryu style of iaido. Mugai-ryu is a traditional, feudal-era form of swordsmanship founded in the late 1600s by Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi (1648–1727). The style aims at teaching practical, combative sword techniques, with an emphasis also on Zen and the attainment of enlightenment through swordsmanship.

Iaido or iaijutsu is the way or art in which one draws and strikes the opponent in one single movement at lightning speed with spirit, sword and body as one—“Ki-Ken-Tai Itto.” Iai literally means “facing an opponent” (or several opponents). The iai techniques can be seen as a “specialization” within the overall methods of traditional Japanese sword fighting, starting from a position with sword in scabbard. The techniques are meant for countering surprise attacks by forestalling the opponent’s movements and delivering him a searing blow before he has time or the ability to counteract. Although the art is concerned with sword techniques, its essence lies in controlling the opponent before drawing the sword (“Saya-no-Uchi”). The peaceful state before drawing the sword—and the achievement of harmonious relations with other people—is what is meant by iai. Iai kata are practiced from both seated and standing position.

Equipment: While it is ideal to practice with a real blade (iaito), a bokken (preferably with plastic scabbard) can be used for this class initially. An iaido obi (broad sash) is also recommended.

Feel free to contact Flemming sensei if you have questions.