Dojo News-Tameshigiri in June 2011

Tameshigiri in June 2011

We recently held a small tameshigiri competition at the Edgware dojo. During the evening students competed for a lovely trophy with a series if cuts increasing in difficulty as the evening progressed.

Ross cutting with ease!

The word ‘Tameshigiri’ is widely used in the West to mean ‘cutting of straw targets’, however the word really applies to exercises where the sword is being tested, rather than the student. The word ‘sumotogiri’ is more correct for cuts designed to test the swordsman. In Japan some instructors denegrate or play down cutting as being a showy egocentrick exercise. However I believe it helps students relate their Iai practice to something practical. I have found that some Iaidoka can

Edward Lee cutting!

have lovely kata but are anuable to cut. The drawing action of good cutting eludes some students, and to this end I find tameshiigiri usefull. The easiest analogy would be to take a karateka who had only ever punched air, and then try to measure the level of his ability! It’s also great fun! Students quickly discover that the easiest route through a target is not the shortest, and that cutting moving targets and freestanding(unpegged) targets is not easy!

A double kesagiri explained.

Mark Jerrim showing how to cut with the grain!

Care must be taken when cutting as for some students it is their first use of a ‘live’ blade. My advice to inexperienced students would be to cut from haso no kamae with the blade already unsheathed and cut with the grain of the straw. If a student has good basics e.g control of the thumb during koiguchi wo kiru and noto much of the instructors first-aid skills will be redundant. However tameshigiri is by it’s nature dangerous!

Larry cutting!

It is also important that the swords are maintained properly and oiled between cutting. The blades should also be wiped clear of water/preservatives prior to re-sheathing. Not everyone is aware that rolled tatami mats contain preservatives that can stain steel, and that often it is neccessary to use jitekou nugui to remove the marks!

Cutting should only be undertakenĀ under those who have many years experience, and sword specific PLI is a must.

Ross receiving his award!

Ross Owens proved to have the best cuts on the evening, including two exeptional cuts to moving targets!

Click on the following low res links to see some cutting:

Chris cutting

Mladan ‘Mae’

Ross x3

Ross moving kesa

Ross double kesa

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