Iaido: A lesson in the ancient Japanese art of sword drawing

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Iaido: A lesson in the ancient Japanese art of sword drawing
Iaido: A lesson in the ancient Japanese art of sword drawing – Mar 15, 2024

When it comes to martial arts, you may be familiar with karate, but have you ever heard of iaido? It is the ancient Japanese art of sword drawing and you can learn how to do it in Peterborough, Ont.

“Iaido is a Japanese martial art that dates back many centuries and for some people, it is absolutely a martial art; they are learning about timing and distance and using the blade,” said Jim Wilson, head instructor – or Sensei – at Kenshokan in Peterborough.

“For others it becomes more about practicing the discipline, focusing the mind, for some it is quite meditative, so everyone gets something a bit different out of it.”

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Wilson has been training in iaido for nearly 30 years; he’s trained in karate for 40.

“It enhances my life in so many ways,” he said. “I love the complement this brings to my karate and I just love seeing other people grow and develop from awkward motions to seeing them advance.”

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He said during their regular training practitioners use blunted blades and, when you’re starting out, you get a wooden sword.

“It is sometimes called a bokuto or bokken,” he said. “The essence of iaido is drawing the sword and cutting or drawing and blocking in one motion, defeating your opponents and then replacing the sword afterwards,” said Wilson.

He said they have students of all ages – one is turning 89 this year – and all skill levels too.

Warren Wagler has been training in iaido for about 11 years. Now he competes internationally.

“The competition is not combative, but it is judging your technique in a tournament style,” he said. “It’s really just about personal development.”

Wilson said the practice focuses on mindfulness, discipline and lifelong learning, noting the art is based on honour and tradition.

“I always talk about people progressing up a mountain and regardless of where you are, you’re still climbing, there is always somewhere more for you to go.”

He said they are accepting new students, with classes running Wednesdays and Saturdays. For more information, visit the Kenshokan website.

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