Iaido practice yesterday centered around refining our swinging technique. Jim was telling us that the best way to see if your swing is correct is to be able to hear the howl as you swing from your iaito, which shouldn't take much effort if the technique is good.
He came up to me and made note that I needed to pay more attention to what the tip is doing. When thinking about swinging, I tend to think a lot about what my hands are doing: are my wrists turned correctly, are my hands in the right position before and after the swing, am I using my arms too much? But there's one thing that I tend to forget about and that is the tip.
What I needed to do was put my concentration away from my hands and more at the tip, as that is what is doing the actual cutting. I need to focus more on the tip speed as that's the part that should be moving the fastest if you follow simple circular geometry. Once I was able to do that, I noticed that my swinging overall got better with the sound effect coming out of it. Now I just need to be able to do that consistently with various swings.
On another note, I noticed that this is one of the first concepts that can definitely relate to kendo. While the process for swinging is slightly different due to application, the fundamental thought process should be the same. We're always taught that our hands need to be in X position while doing Y to get an efficient cut. But what is doing the cutting? What is the part of the shinai that makes the point? It's the tip of course. I need to take better care with thinking about where the tip is headed and move my hands accordingly instead of the opposite case.
Hmm, they say that Kendo and Iaido are related but it seems like I'm finally starting to see that--in the technical sense, at least.