Iaido and Tea

I just heard a great quote from one of my Aikido teachers; I hope he doesn't mind if I reproduce it here. He said that "Iaido is the tea ceremony for boys." Funny, because it's true. But let me explain.

Iaido is a Japanese martial art where you draw your sword, slice up your imaginary opponent, shake the blood off and then sheathe the sword again in one fluid motion. Well, maybe several fluid motions. But fluidly, either way. The name "iaido" literally breaks down into 'i' - being, 'ai' - harmony, and of course 'do' - way. Kind of like "the way of harmonious awareness" or something like that. It's a good name.

Anyway, so similarly to the tea ceremony, it's all about everything being precise and in its place. I just realized that the reason you train, or at least work up to training with, a live blade is that it really makes you extremely aware of how exactly you're moving with the sword! Otherwise you're just waving a stick around. But if you are holding an extremely sharp piece of metal, you have to be precise, unless you are tired of having fingers that are still attached to your body. It's a tangible mental change.

The tea ceremony basically does the same thing, but let's face it: tea is girly. What kind of boy would want to spend his time perfecting his tea-serving abilities? Swords are obviously much cooler. Thus, "Iaido is the tea ceremony for boys."

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