History of Iaido

Brief History of Iaido

The origins of Iaido as an art are woven within the political and cultural transformations of medieval Japan. In 1600, after a lengthy period of civil war, Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the Battle of Sekigahara. Effectively, this made Tokugawa the ruling force in Japan. In 1603 Tokugawa was made the first Shogun of Japan by the Emperor Go-Yozei, thereby establishing the Tokugawa Shogunate which lasted until 1867.

In an attempt to bring peace to the country, the Tokugawa Shogunate issued edicts to control the daimyo and court officials. With the issue of the Kuge Shohatto, the Samurai were essentially transformed from a warrior class to a refined gentry. Swords were still allowed to be carried in public, with only the Samurai being able to carry a sword over 2 Shakku in length.

Although the country was now at peace, the sword still held a very important place as a status symbol in Japanese society, and a trained swordsman was still held in high regard. The reasons for studying the sword arts changed slightly, and a meditative approach to swordmanship began to flourish. With Samurai carrying swords in everyday life as part of their status, there was undoubtedly still a combative reason to study iaido, as being able to draw and strike with a sword in one motion is a substantial advantage. However, a central tenet to iaido was, and still is, the application of budo to the sword arts.