If you want to understand why you do something, take a few moments and decide what your motto should be. Companies have “vision statements” these days, but they used to have mottos like “better living through electricity” which seems to us nothing more than an ad blurb, but can go deeper into serious research into time-saving kitchen appliances which will improve the lot of humanity… or make some dosh for the shareholders.
So, having thought about it for a few days I’ve decided that my Iaido motto is “meeting another”. Sort of counter-intuitive for a martial art that is done solo but bear with me.
First level, iai as a word really does mean something like meeting another according to some lines of koryu.
Second level, after learning the dance steps, you must start to imagine an opponent and show others where and what that opponent is doing through things like your metsuke.
Third level, after imagining an opponent you can start to respond to his actions spontaneously, then you can start to lead him into actions as you wish, and finally you can lead him into a state of non-opposition, preventing the need to draw the sword.
Fourth level, having the ability to make peace, you can lead others to the same ability.
Fifth level, and the very most important, through the practice of iai I meet others and have the chance to become their friend.
Also the simplest level.