Iaido exam answers
The answers of the questions of a theoretical Dan test (Shinsa) can be quite different. They reflect the current state of knowledge of a question, the depth of training and the own knowledge of an iaidoka. It is composed from the experience and understanding according of own Iai training.
The answers to exam questions so vary between personal opinion and possible interpretation of the doctrine. Here are a few random examples which are exemplary in this context, but not universal.
Nidan (2nd Dan)
- Describe correct Noto at Seitei-Iai.
- Talk about breathing in Iaikeiko.
- Explain Maai in Iai.
1. Noto is the finishing move of each kata. The left hand grasps the Saya with the middle finger, relaxed thumb and index finger to form an extended saya end. Some dojo teach Koyguchi, so if you are not aware, the Saya opening is not visible. The right hand carry the sword with the sword back to the hollow between thumb and forefinger of his left hand. While now the left hand runs Sayabiki, the elbow of the right arm is moved to the right diagonally forward. The fingers of the right hand are loose, the tsuka can only be kept from the fingertips with long swords. This is the sword already taking the line on which it is now taken up by Saya. Both hands are actively involved in the movement, the shoulders are relaxed. The sword tip (Kissagi) is now »picked up« and the sword disappears quietly and safely in the Saya. The left hand turns the Saya gradually, about half way to the horizontal, so that at the end of the movement again the sword carve shows upward. The thumb of the left hand reaches up onto the tsuba and secures the sword. The tsuba is in front of the navel and the sword tends in the horizontal.
Besides the pure technical implementation, rhythm and breathing must be observed. While the »pulling« of the left and right hand is running more quickly, the insertion of the blade into the Saya takes place slowly and controlled. The undivided attention is paid to the enemy (Zanshin).
3. First Maai means »distance« to the enemy and can be practiced and learned in most budo disciplines with a partner (opponent). In kendo, he is traditionally two sword lengths away. In Iaido the implementation of this principle is much more difficult, because the enemy is imagined. On other hand, the ideal distance to the enemy is closer than in kendo: In Iaido kata the first cut should already work, so the distance is about one sword length. Often the enemy is very close. You could learn it in kata Ukenagashi.
To learn the right feeling, partner exercises with bokken are helpful. On examination as in Taikai you should recognized, that the Iaidoka has developed an awareness of the right distance to the opponent. A demonstration should show also Ki at the right place and moment. Moreover Maai is not static and could not be learned with a tape measure. It should be a feeling. Advanced Iaidoka feel the moment he enters the dojo. If Maai an understand more wider, it can also relate to the coexistence in the dojo. In partner exercises it helps to learn the correct distance. In view of the partners it can also mean security, if one takes an (obviously larger) distance to them. Sword contacts or even injuries can be avoided in this way.
Yondan (4th Dan)
- Tell about the right use of the Katana and the correct handling.
- Write about your posture of Iai.
- Explain what you have to teach especially to beginners.
Will be continued.