I remember one day asking sensei why he trained in Aikido and Iaido. His response was, “How dare you ask me this question!” My intent was to discover if the same reasons for his devotion to the art were the same as mine, but what I have come to understand is that there is only one reason to study and train in Iaido and that is reason is because I must.
No one carries swords anymore; it would be a relatively useless endeavor to do so. One isn’t going to need to cut anything that would require around twenty-eight inches of sharpened steel in order to accomplish the task. A pocket knife would suffice for most daily cutting needs, or perhaps a pair of scissors to open those pesky cereal bags evenly. No one carries a sword anymore.
There are far more effective ways to defend oneself than using a sword. All we have to do is study the way the introduction of firearms to the island nation of Japan totally changed warfare and the use of swords for combat in order to determine their value for combat and defense. It wasn’t the sword’s unique self-defense qualities that led to the ban on wearing swords in 1876 as part of the Meiji Restoration. There are far more effective ways to defend oneself than using a sword.
Studying and teaching Iaido won’t make one rich. Rent and mortgages are expensive. Insurance to protect against litigious learners and the costs of uniforms, swords, cleaning kits, sageo, and other routine maintenance of training adds up to losing money or breaking even. Studying and teaching Iaido won’t make one rich.
I study and practice Iaido because I must. Try to convince a flower not to open. Try to resist the burn of the sun without sunscreen. Try to stand against spring runoff. I study and practice Iaido because I must.
I practice in my basement. I practice outside. I practice on mats. I practice on hardwood floors. I practice in the heat. I practice in the snow. I practice Iaido and trying to convince me to do otherwise would be futile. O’negai shimasu.