The term 'iaido' consists of the above characters 居 (i), 合 (ai), and 道 (dō). The origin of the first two characters is believed to to be from a portion of a saying that can be roughly translated as “being constantly (prepared), match/meet (the opposition) immediately”. Thus the primary emphasis in 'iai' is on the psychological state of being present (居). The secondary emphasis is on drawing the sword and responding to the sudden attack as quickly as possible (合).

The last character, 道, is generally translated into English as way or path.  The term 'iaido' approximately translates into English as “the way of mental presence and immediate reaction. In Japanese martial arts dō is used in order to emphasize the philosophical or spiritual aspects of the practice.

© Dr. chris g. dalrymple 2017, 2018