It’s called Iaido, the art of drawing and cutting with a Japanese sword. A martial art mostly practised as solo kata where the opponent is only visible to the swordsman. A martial art that demands high levels of concentration and attention to detail in order to get the timing correct, make a technically good cut and return the sword to its scabbard in a smooth and commanding manner. There are a set number of ‘forms’ or little scenarios that have to be performed. These shots are from a recent seminar.
Its all highly ritualised, but like a lot of Japanese martial art katas (or forms) its absolutely essential to practice correctly. As in styles like Judo, if you can’t get the technique right in kata, you haven’t a hope of doing it in a freestyle or ‘real’ encounter. Cutting with a sword (and these are generally blunt edged iaito) is no easy matter. Some styles also practice cutting bamboo with ‘live’ blades, but Seitei Iai, as in this seminar, does not do that.