Iaido is the art of classical Japanese swordsmanship. Its roots extend back nearly 450 years, making it one of the oldest Japanese sword styles still being practiced. The meanings of the characters used to write "iaido" are i, pronounced "ee," to "exist," ai, pronounced "eye," to "meet and blend with," and do, pronounced "doe," meaning "way" or "path." The suffix "dō" is a term used — as in iaido, judo, kendo, aikido, and karate-do — as a concept of the way or road to self-development and denotes a spiritual path followed by students of martial disciplines. Thus, one translation of the word iaido is: '[the] way to meet with/reconcile one's existence.' Those who study iaido are commonly called "iaidoka" by the Japanese, which means iaido person, or iaido practitioner. The name suggests that iaido is more than just a sword-drawing art; it is also a profound self-realization system.
The current focus of the KIHK is on the preservation and promotion of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryū iaido. Muso translates as 'divinely inspired,' and Jikiden means 'directly transmitted.' Eishin denotes the surname of our school's seventh headmaster (Hasegawa Eishin). Ryu means style or school and indicates that the school was named in Hasegawa Eishin's honor.
Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu is a historically important sword style. Its philosophical and practical principles are elusive and resist casual explanation. For this reason, people must learn the techniques directly from a qualified instructor within the teacher/student framework. Thus, the word Jikiden is featured in the school's formal name.
~Source: Japanese Swords: Cultural Icons of a Nation (Tuttle, 2010). Adapted here with the author's permission.