Mugai-ryu Dojo Doko-kun

1. 敬 Kei / Uyamau (respect).

Respect everything that relates to you and your practice of iaido, especially: the ryuha, history, dojo, sensei / dojo nushi, iaido itself, dogu, katana, each other [senpai, kohai, dohai -people above, lower and the same as you], other Budoka and sensei you may meet, and so on.

In Budo you need to respect the wisdom of those of those who have come before you and trust that what you are instructed to do, is correct, even if you don’t understand it just now. Reiho and respect brings Kenjutsu and Zen together to make Iaido. If you completely respect the art, you will be able to make progress. If you don’t respect everything from the centre of your heart, then your progress will be stunted.

2. 無 Mu (emptiness / nothing).

Do keiko without thought of anything but the practice you are doing. Don’t think about looking cool or what you will eat for dinner, just have Budo in your mind. Try to cultivate mushin [empty mind] in your training.

  • Don’t fidget
  • Don’t show what your next move will be
  • Don’t show if you are tired, confused, angry, made a mistake, etc
  • Be inwardly calm and still, but outwardly on fire but at the same time inscrutable

Cultivating Mu allows you to be more instinctively aware of what is around you which is the essence of Budo. It also allows the workings of Kei to have maximum benefit to you. Having no preconceptions allows your kokoro to be empty and thus absorb all the learning that is available to you Having Mu also means that if you are corrected, told off, make a mistake, etc then it won’t affect your pride and won’t have any outwardly perceivable effect on your bearing. Instruction and correction are precious jewels that followers of the way should not only crave, but actively seek out, no matter the source. [In other words don’t rely on your sensei for the total sum of your instruction]

3. 道 Do (way, journey)

Doing Budo is a way to become a better person. The road 道 is the road we walk to enlightenment, and every action, in the dojo and outside it, is a learning opportunity for improving ourselves. Iaido training is walking the road to enlightenment. It may be a long journey, but if you recognise that it is long, then there is no need to hurry.

In the dojo we should always be mindful of Do because we are doing Budo,. Not martial arts, not Bujutsu or Kenjustu. Budo is Tachiai [立会] which is ki no furiai [気の降り合い] and aiki [合気]. There is a difference between swinging your sword quickly just to cut your opponent, and using your sword to polish your spirit. There is a concept of Katsujinken and Satsujinken; Katsujinken means to have proper seme-ai and take kamae and have aiki [合気] before attacking your opponent, (or whatever interaction eventuates). Satsujinken is just to swing sharply, break the pattern and by all costs cut your opponent. Katsujinken is to give life through your sword, while Satsujinken is to take life with your sword. This is not only about killing and not killing your enemy, but applies to all aspects of your life through Budo. If you are to be following the way of Budo then aiki and katsujinken are very important. If you are just doing martial arts then more focus will be on satsujinken and winning at all costs.

Doing Iaido or Kendo as a Budo means that the purpose is not like a sport in that you aim to win at all costs. The purpose is much less clear, but the central idea is that you are working towards becoming a better person the whole time.