From Afro-Brazilian capoeira to Muay Thai kickboxing, there is no shortage of bad-ass martial arts out there…
However, although I can guarantee that you’ve never heard of Iaid? (??????), it’s probably the most bad-ass martial art ever!
Literally translated into English as the “the way of mental presence and immediate reaction,” Iaid? is a Japanese martial art entirely dedicated to the katana (???) or samurai sword.
Of course, unlike the slash ’em up antics of 1970s Kung Fu action flicks, Iaid? emphasizes controlled movements, quick unsheathes, deadly strikes, blood removal and quick sheathes.
So, to put things into better context, Iaid? essentially boils down to killing your opponent and cleaning his blood off of your sword in the minimal number of steps.
According to a friend of mine who studies the art, “Iaid? is a perfect martial art for honing your reaction time. It also teaches you how to eliminate three opponents in only seven moves, which can be executed with flawless precision in between sips of macha green tea.”
Intrigued about this deadly yet efficient martial art? Keep reading to learn why Iaid? clearly holds the title for the world’s most bad-ass martial art!
According to martial arts historians, a legendary samurai known as Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu is credited with establishing Iaidō sometime in the early 16th century.
However, the fine art of drawing the katana in battle, which is known in Japanese as battōjutsu (抜刀術), has its origins in the 15th century.
Literally translated into English as the “the technique of drawing the sword,” battōjutsu is a technical art form dedicated to slicing an opponent to death in battle.
In keeping with the tradition of restraint and control emphasized by Bushidō (武士道) or the samurai code, the ultimate goal of battōjutsu was to strike down your opponent in the minimum number of moves.
Of course, the term battōjutsu eventually gave way to Iaidō, a word that incorporates the suffix -dō, which implies philosophy and spirituality.
Thanks to this linguistic construction, the deadly art of honed, precision killing was elevated to a religious level.
As with all Japanese marital arts, Iaidō is a refined discipline that can take several lifetimes to perfect.
Students of this art must first learn to control their psychological state of being present. After they have mastered this, they must learn to respond to a sudden attack in a calm and collected manner. Following the vanquish of their opponent(s), they must return to their resting state as quickly as possible.
Beginners often practice these three pathways in combative postures or standing positions. However, advanced students expand on these forms by learning how to react from difficult starting positions, such as sitting with your legs crossed and drinking tea.
After all, a true samurai never knows when their tea time might be interrupted by hell-bent ninjas emerging from the shadows.
(I told you this martial art was bad-ass!)
** All images were courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons Project **