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Thread: Sword testing and tameshigiri

  1. #1
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    Default Sword testing and tameshigiri

    I started thinking on this topic when I read some comments by Obata Sensei on this forum a long time ago, where he stated there are very big differences between the two. I would assume tameshigiri is more for the kenshi, seeing if your technique is done correctly and so on, whereas test cutting would be more for the benefit of the sword smith.

    So this is really more of a question regarding sword testing.

    How is it different or similar to tameshigiri?

    ( Not trying to be a total idiot but,) What is the purpose? What is tested and how?

    Also what is myth and what is fact? There are all sorts of stories about test cutting.

    Regards
    Louis

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    Hello and welcome!

    Rather than attempt to explain something that is better left to people here with MUCH more experience than I, let me just recommend reviewing the various threads here on E-Budo. You can start by just going to the main page and looking for "Search." (If I am not mistaken.)

    Just remember one thing about tameshigiri while you are here. It's not to be taken lightly. Many people here have very different opinions on the relevance <sp?> as well as its rapid rise in certain circles. I personally do it (and if you do, make sure it's under a qualified instructor with a quality blade), and it's fun and serious training.

    All the best!

    Carlos
    E. Carlos Estrella, Jr.

    The strength of a man is not measured in how much he can lift, how many he can fight or how much he can endure, but in his capacity to admit his limitations and learn to successfully circumvent them.

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    Mr. Labuschagne,

    I'm a student of Obata Sensei, and can offer you a bit more information.

    To put is simply, shito (sword testing) and shizan/tameshigiri (test cutting) share much in common technically, but are performed for different reasons with a focus on different results.

    At least the manner in which I've been taught tameshigiri, the point is to apply your regular techniques to a target. In other words, developing "specialty" test cutting techniques to impress others is missing the point and considered "cheap". YMMV.

    In shito, it is important to accurately evaluate the quality and performance characteristics of a given blade, based largely on pervious experience with testing other blades. While it is not possible to test a blade without to some degree testing yourself, the goal is not to test your own abilities but to establish a reliable and repeatable evaluation based on a number of criteria.

    Obata Sensei has just written his second shinkendo book, which is about tameshigiri (going to print soon). It is a pretty comprehensive treatment of the subject - at least within the limited scope a semi-technical book can be. I think questions such as these will be answered.

    I should mention that Sensei has always emphasized that it is not important for everyone who studies swordsmanship to try testing swords. They are skills that are more un-related that related, and it is very important to have the guidance of someone who is an experienced sword tester rather than just experimenting on your own. Sword testing is dangerous enough to begin with, but is VASTLY more dangerous if you are trying to learn it the hard way. The types of hard materials a sword tester cuts are not necessary tests for the study of swordsmanship. Don't do it.

    Hope this helps,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Thank you very much for taking the time reply Mr. Scott, I really appreciate it.
    (especially as a newbie to the sword arts with too much curiosity and too little patience who probably falls in the anti-faq group...)

    I shall take your words regarding tameshigiri and the seriousness thereoff to heart.

    Best Regards
    Louis

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    Default Re: Sword testing and tameshigiri

    Originally posted by Bullbrand
    I started thinking on this topic when I read some comments by Obata Sensei on this forum a long time ago, where he stated there are very big differences between the two. I would assume tameshigiri is more for the kenshi, seeing if your technique is done correctly and so on, whereas test cutting would be more for the benefit of the sword smith...How is it different or similar to tameshigiri?
    Nathan's post certainly answered the key points, but I would like to add that there is also a question of terminology:

    I was taught that there is a difference between tameshigiri (test cutting, which might be considered testing a sword), and suimonogiri (practice/demonstration cutting, which might be considered testing the swordsman). (This use of tameshigiri seems to be opposite of what Nathan said, so I hope I don't have it backwards, but I'm pretty sure this is what my sensei told me. As has been said regarding Japanese bugei (and Japanese language in general): there are few absolutes.)
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    I've never heard it put that way Brian, I have seen the distinction that generally tameshigiri refers to standing targets, and suimonogiri refers to horizontal targets. This could simply be a distinction that is unique to my school. We definitely think of tameshigiri as testing the swordsman however, in fact we use different kanji to write tameshigiri than most schools I'm familiar with, ours reads more like "practice/demonstration <b>killing</b>" than "demonstration <b>cutting</b>". Not really much to add there, but thought I'd throw that out.
    Christian Moses
    **Certified Slimy, Moronic, Deranged and Demented Soul by Saigo-ha Daito Ryu!**
    Student of:
    Shinto Ryu Iai-Battojutsu
    Tuesday Night Bad Budo Club (TM)

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    Originally posted by chrismoses
    ...in fact we use different kanji to write tameshigiri than most schools I'm familiar with, ours reads more like "practice/demonstration <b>killing</b>" than "demonstration <b>cutting</b>".
    That's very interesting. I hadn't heard that before. Of course my knowledge of Japanese, particularly written Japanese, is almost non-existant (although I'm currently struggling to remedy that -- taking Japanese 101 this quarter).

    Another distinction between the two the way I am using it, if I recall the way Kurita sensei said it (and this was through a translator, as well as a few years back, so again I hope I don't have it reversed), is that tameshigiri used secured "targets" (corpses originally, and straw later) while suimonogiri usually used free standing or hanging targets.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Do you have an example of the kanji? I'd be interested in seeing the choice.
    Joshua Badgley
    Member of the Capital Area Budokai
    http://cabudokai.org

    これやこの行くも帰るもわかれつつ
    知るも知らぬも逢坂の関

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    If you read Japanese, you can go to our parent dojo's website here.

    I don't read kanji at this point, though I'm also taking Jp101 this quarter. Hiragana quiz tomorrow, so I'll be signing off for tonight!
    Christian Moses
    **Certified Slimy, Moronic, Deranged and Demented Soul by Saigo-ha Daito Ryu!**
    Student of:
    Shinto Ryu Iai-Battojutsu
    Tuesday Night Bad Budo Club (TM)

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    Not sure if there is another set of kanji used, but what I saw on the 'photos' page showing tameshigiri was: a (not sure if the kanji will display for everyone).

    That's the same kanji I've seen before.. The first is 'tamesu', to test. The other is 'kiru', which can be to slash, assault, or murder--apparently it is to cut with the intent of killing.

    I guess some people might use ?, which would have less ominous tones, but I think you lose the idea of cutting with the sword. The 'kiru' there is just 'to cut', without the combative feeling of the other.
    Joshua Badgley
    Member of the Capital Area Budokai
    http://cabudokai.org

    これやこの行くも帰るもわかれつつ
    知るも知らぬも逢坂の関

  11. #11
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    Suemonogiri -- cutting a fixed object.
    Tameshigiri -- test/examine cutting.

    Both are synonyms for the same thing. Some teachers might nuance their choice of word(s), but it's still "examining your cutting."

    Now, off again for another six months.
    --Guy
    Guy H. Power
    Kenshinkan Dojo

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