Iaido is the art of drawing the samurai sword. Iaido, as an art, is very focused on the inner, or spiritual, development of the student, because the physical skills demanded in Iaido require the advanced student to work with a live (sharpened) Japanese Katana, performing techniques at a fast rate. This in and of itself requires a student to be focused and relaxed, both mentally and physically. The Satori-Ryu Iaido was developed by Soke Dale S. Kirby Sr., combining traditional kata and techniques with the kata and techniques of Satori-Ryu Iaido.
Satori-Ryu Iaido has two primary goals: The first is for the student to develop inner peace and harmony. This enables the student to become more successful in their interactions within their daily lives. The second is for the student to achieve a focused realization of who they are and what they want to achieve with their life. Satori-Ryu Iaido also places a strong emphasis on the learning of physical skills. Students are required to become proficient in the practical application of the kata and techniques of Satori-Ryu Iaido.
The primary purpose of the Martial Arts is for the development of the inner self, to be more effective in dealing with yourself and with the outside world. Satori translates into spontaneous enlightenment, and Satori-Ryu translated together means “The School of Spontaneous Enlightenment”. Essentially, Satori-Ryu Iaido is about helping students learn how to find peace and harmony within themselves and how to maintain a calm and peaceful manner when faced with a stressful situation. Satori-Ryu Iaido can provide the student with the way and means to discover the self-discipline, focus, and self-actualization that is contained within all of us. It is there to be discovered if we only look.
The Martial Arts are a dynamic entity, ever changing and evolving. Failure to grow and develop results in a condition that is stale and stagnant. As our body of knowledge grows and develops, so should the application of that knowledge to the Arts that we study. The depth of knowledge of Human Anatomy and Training Methodologies continues to expand and failure to take that into account with our training is sheer negligence.
In Satori-Ryu Iaido, we have recognized that modifications are necessary for those populations with conditions that prevent participation in some activities. In Satori-Ryu Iaido we are the leading innovators in this area. Populations with knee, hip, low back problems, chronic injuries, including college-age populations with injuries resulting from abusive athletics require modifications in order for them to be able to participate in Iaido. These are individuals who suffer with chronic injuries which preclude them from performing some of the stances, positions and/or techniques without modifications which provide an alternative. In order to ensure that the modifications were correct and accurate according to the proper function of Human Anatomy and Physiology, the assistance of a Team of Physical Therapists and Orthopedists was utilized. Techniques were analyzed until the necessary modifications were identified and clarified. Following are brief descriptions of some of these modifications.
Chiburis: In some types of Chiburis that have a cutting out motion, the kissaki, the tip of the sword, stops at the midline as opposed to letting it continue on past the body, opening the angle between the sword and the wrist. Performing the technique in this manner increases the centrifugal force generated placing a much greater stress on the Bicep Tendon through the negative contraction creating an increased potential for Overuse Injuries.
Seiza: Another modification is initiating movement into and out of the Seiza position. As you go into Seiza, a deep kneeling position, the knee is in a deep flexion which requires the cartilage in the knee to change position, and as they change position into and out of flexion, and as the Speed of Movement increases, the more explosive the movement becomes, increasing the chance that the cartilage is not going to be able to move back into the correct position causing it to be impinged between the tibia, fibula and the femur. Even doing it slowly puts that cartilage at risk and so over time performing that movement, not hundreds, but thousands of times, is going to increase the chances that the cartilage is going be caught in the impingement. The necessary modification is a change to using a standing position. This can be performed correctly when the applications of the techniques included in the Kata are kept consistent.
Shoulder Girdle: When performing cuts, it is important to make sure that the Kissaki, the tip of the sword, is not traveling outside of the Shoulder Girdle. Keeping the Kissaki close to midline keeps the sword inside the Power Curve of the Shoulder Girdle and maintains a healthy stress on the soft tissues involved.
Wrist/Elbow Unit: When we analyze the wrist/elbow unit, especially when considering movements with an upward motion, the rotation that occurs in the wrist has to be minimalized. By focusing on rotating the entire arm/shoulder unit so that the elbow is in line with the direction of the cut, then a much larger group of muscles are activated to make that movement as opposed to the smaller muscles, ligaments and tendons of the wrist/elbow unit. The key, when changing the direction of the cut is to focus on the alignment of the elbow, which directs the entire arm shoulder unit to be involved in the change in direction.
Humerus/Shoulder Angle: When analyzing the Arm/Shoulder Unit, particular attention needs to be placed on the angle of the humerus. The angle of the humerus needs to remain close to horizontal in order to ensure that the shoulder is not overextended. When the shoulder girdle is in an extended position under Force, the smaller muscles, tendons and ligaments are placed into a vulnerable position. Interestingly, when performing Jodaiburi, the boken moves into a vertical position behind the back and then performing a Shomen Strike. If that technique is performed in a slow manner with a lot of focus given on using the back muscles to pull the arms backward and open the shoulder girdles, pulling the scapula together and downward, as opposed to trying to push the arms backward with the shoulder muscles, and the Shomen Strike executed in a controlled motion through the full range of motion slowly, then it can be useful in increasing flexibility, range of motion, strength and endurance of those muscles throughout the range of motion.
The preceding has been a very brief introduction into some of the Risk Reduction Modifications that have been pioneered by the Leadership of Satori-Ryu Iaido. The goal of everyone involved is the health and success of the student. Making these modifications allows a larger segment of the population able to be able to enjoy the benefits of Iaido.