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  • The Importance of Tameshigiri

    As a newcomer to Iaido I am wondering about how often Iaidoka practice Tameshigiri, and if they consider it a critical part of their training.

    I hear that we will eventually be making it part of our regular training at my dojo. I was hoping to hear how much it is practiced elsewhere in Iaido. Forgive me if this has been discussed to death already ...

  • #2
    There are as many opinions of the value and importance of tameshigiri. Some schools practice it as the main part, while many schools hardly bother with it at all. If your dojo has it as part of the curriculum, then that is what you do.

    Many people think that if you are learning to use a sword, then you should practice actual cutting. Some think that it doesn't matter, and that the cut is the culmination of what has led up to it. Like everything else in the JSA world, all permutations are seen, practiced, discussed, analysed, praised and dismissed. Sort of like life, really.

    My own personal view is that it is a good thing to do from time to time, so that I know I can cut, and to see that my tenouchi is effective. It is also great fun. However tameshigiri has its own little foibles and tricks, and I don't want to be distracted from my main study of iaido/kendo. This means I don't do it often. I know I can cut. I also know that tatami mats don't fight back, unlike kendo partners and kasso teki, and I like to keep that fact firmly in my mind.

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    • #3
      As noted above Tameshigiri is a valuble part of training in Iaido and Battojutsu so that you know how to actually cut. How ever it is not the main part either but only one in a series of actual ciricculm. Ie you should know at least one form or style that you are training in, plus tameshigiri, plus the cuts and how it relates to your own style. Or at least that is what I try to focus on. I have done Tameshigiri twice and it helps me to improve my tenuchi and also improve the style of cuts and link both the ryu with actual cutting. However different dojos have different styles and preferences as Gavin noted above. So enjoy and have fun with each aspect of Iaido / Batto jutsu training.
      また、狼より / Jeff

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      • #4
        I think Gavin has answered this rather succinctly.

        We too do very very little tameshigiri - I think only twice in 10 years that I can recall. I knew that I could cut and I proved it during Tameshigiri.

        I would not wish to study this more often than once every so often because I fear it would detract from my main studies . And, tbh, It didn't hold my attention in the same way that Iai (including TUnK) does (and to a lesser degree kendo and Jodo).

        Lee

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        • #5
          If you want to be a good air-guitarist, it would help if you could actually play the guitar, at least a little bit.

          In air-guitaring other things other than your actually guitar ability come into play.... the face you pull, the whip of your hair, your stance etc.... your (seemingly) ability to play the guitar is actually secondary.

          Playing the guitar amazingly and your ability to air guitar - while related - are not connected at the hip.

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          • #6
            It should not be the total sum of study, (as said above tatami dont fight back) however you need to understand how a sword actually works, and how your technique is affected by the nuances of this.
            Take a sword and a roll of say 3 mats. flip the sword at the mat as gently as you can, allowing the weight of the blade only to do a cut....it should go in about 2 inches. This is enough to sever the carotid artery. Therefore using upper body strength (as I see a lot of beginners do) is contrary to what you actually need to do, which is technique and lower body.
            I do NOT allow junior students to do this due to their perceived ideas about required strength, and the fact that they can seriously injure themselves(let alone anyone else!) if they get it wrong.
            I like my guys to have a look at this at around nidan... at that point they know enough about technique (so if they close their eyes the waza can be done as usual), prove to them they dont have to hammer through it, then get them to cut the mat. I think most people want to 'have a go' purely to mentally prove to themselves that they can actually cut.

            Note bad technique has a very good chance of wrecking a blade, so if you have a Masamune you want rid of, give it to a newbie... I do worry though if I see people who can't cut at senior level though, a godan I know needed to be taken aside....knowing what I now know about cutting, it is obvious why the cut couldnt be done by this person at that time.

            You should consider it as a useful extra aid for training, but don't rush into it until you have good technique. (and at that point you realise you don't need to do it anyway...)

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            • #7
              Btw, how does it feel for you all doing tameshigiri?
              I found it absolutely terrifying ^__^\/

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              • #8
                I had to do it at the last annual seminar, I was terrified as well, especially because it was in front of everybody. Well, as you can guess I messed it up pretty badly...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by lucy View Post
                  I had to do it at the last annual seminar, I was terrified as well, especially because it was in front of everybody. Well, as you can guess I messed it up pretty badly...
                  Why? What happened?

                  I can't imagine having to do it in front of everybody I didn't cut throught about 4 first times The sword was too long and I thought I would cut the floor in a half.

                  If it wasn't in front of everybody, would you give it another chance?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kiami View Post
                    Btw, how does it feel for you all doing tameshigiri?
                    I found it absolutely terrifying ^__^\/
                    First time was done with about two hours of iai training under my belt. I was a bit nervous. I couldn't cut at all.

                    Second time was done after about 18 months' iai training. It was fun. Slice slice slice chop.

                    I've not done it since.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Kiami View Post
                      Btw, how does it feel for you all doing tameshigiri?
                      I found it absolutely terrifying ^__^\/
                      As stated above, it is useful to check a few issues (hasuji etc) but I don't find it anything more than something to have a pop at every now and again - just for fun.

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                      • #12
                        For me, as a practitioner of Toyama Ryu, we cut all the time. Maybe up to 4 mats a week, and even more when I trained in Orlando. Like previously mentioned, it should be not be the main focus but I do believe it's essential in iai training. Our class usually consists of the first half being kata, and the second half being cutting. Tameshigiri biggest influence is that it gives you another view of the techniques that you practice and that you can translate that to kata, and vice versa. Try to cut like you cut in kata while doing tameshigiri, and cut like you're doing tamehsigiri while doing kata. my 2 cents

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                        • #13
                          Ditto

                          Originally posted by SangWoooKim View Post
                          For me, as a practitioner of Toyama Ryu, we cut all the time. Maybe up to 4 mats a week, and even more when I trained in Orlando. Like previously mentioned, it should be not be the main focus but I do believe it's essential in iai training. Our class usually consists of the first half being kata, and the second half being cutting. Tameshigiri biggest influence is that it gives you another view of the techniques that you practice and that you can translate that to kata, and vice versa. Try to cut like you cut in kata while doing tameshigiri, and cut like you're doing tamehsigiri while doing kata. my 2 cents
                          Very similar to Nakamura Ryu. Mats are expensive, so we are limited to one regular cutting session a month (3-4 mats per student) although we'll have additional sessions before various Taikai (e.g., Orlando in Feb. and Costa Mesa in August).

                          Last weekend we did kata, cutting and returned to the same kata to reinforce bringing the "feeling of cutting" to the kata. Similarly we want to bring the "feeling of cutting" to kumitachi. After getting the basics of cutting, we generally cut from kata.

                          This same approach applies our Meishi-ha Mugai Ryu Iaihyodo.

                          I absolutely agree with Sang (whom I have known for a couple of years now), cutting is an essential element in iai-batto training.

                          YMMV,

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                          • #14
                            I think a few people who "know they can cut" would be surprised if they cut more often.

                            We cut weekly and quite often I make basic mistakes due to thinking that I could cut. Like all things, it doesn't always go according to plan. Hence why I think it's a good training tool

                            Some mats are tough and some are soft - it's great fun as you never know what you are going to get!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Kiami View Post
                              Why? What happened?

                              I can't imagine having to do it in front of everybody I didn't cut throught about 4 first times The sword was too long and I thought I would cut the floor in a half.

                              If it wasn't in front of everybody, would you give it another chance?
                              Well, everybody had to cut, and they just handed you this sword with the ridiculously long tsuka and then you were supposed to do it. Everybody had maybe half a mat, not much, and I had no idea how much power I needed. After the horror stories I'd been told i was careful, and - of course - I was too careful. My sensei couldn't help but shout "Just cut through, Svenja!" which didn't make me feel any better... Later he said that I would just have had to give it a bit more power, but he realized that I was a bit apprehensive because of everybody watching.

                              Of course I'll do it again, but we don't do it very often.

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