Revision still in progress
Iaijutsu, approximately "the art of mental presence and immediate reaction", is the traditional Silverstari martial art associated with smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword from its scabbard, striking or cutting an opponent, removing blood from the blade, and then replacing the sword in the scabbard. The clan most famous for their mastery of Iaijutsu is the Crane clan, specifically the Kakita family, however all bushi practice iaijustu to some extent. While not absolutely necessary, most bushi use their katana to perform iaijutsu.
Origin and History
Iaijutsu is one of the newer martial arts practiced by the Silverstari, having been developed long after their arrival after the Great Exodus. As the long war came to an end, the Silverstari, honed by war and necessity into a war-like people, began to turn on themselves. While the Orcs and Oni were straight forward opponents, fellow men could be more duplicitous. The tradition of wearing the katana blade up made drawing the blade awkward, as was intended, but also made defense difficult if attacked.
Tradition ascribes the founding of Iaijutsu to Mitashi Zentoshi, a bushi of the then Crane Clan before the formation of the current ruling families. Being an intelligent and disciplined soldier, he pursued the matter and developed a series of moves designed so that a seated opponent could smoothly draw his blade and strike, reacting instantly to an unexpected attack.
Iaijutsu was developed for the specific combative purpose of defending oneself, not on the battlefield, but in everyday life. A central feature of iaijutsu is, therefore, drawing the sword from several traditional sitting postures, but techniques from a standing posture are also studied. Additionally, with the emphasis upon defense during daily life, it was also generally assumed that combatants would be armed with a katana worn "edge-up" and thrust through a sash around the waist, and that combatants would be fighting unarmored. These assumptions result in a drastically different approach to combat than when combatants are armored and fighting on the battlefield.
Iaijutsu involve focus all of one's spirit (known as chi) first internally, and then infusing it within the sword, or whatever weapon is being used. Some of the monks of northern Silverstars are even able to perform iaijutsu with their bare fist. Once the qi is properly focused within the weapon, the weapon is drawn and used to perform a single, fast and highly focused strike, and depending on the skill of the wielder the strike may be capable of cutting a thick tree trunk in half. Duels between bushi are normally centred around the principles of iaido. In a fight against oni, a bushi may not have an opportunity to properly focus in order to use iaijutsu. In a duel between honorable bushi, it is considered one of the worst transgressions to attack your opponent before he is ready. Since there is no actual signal to begin a duel, the beginning normally involves the two bushi focusing their qi, and watching their opponent and waiting for a momentary lapse in attention. When that occurs, the focused chi will be released in an iaijutsu strike, and battles will often simply end at that first blood. Even if they are a duel to the death, a samurai will rarely be given the opportunity to regather his concentration for another such strike.