Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Thrills of Tameshigiri

Great time practicing Tameshigiri yesterday. Ron, Cody, Levi, even Frank back from his ship came to slice these mats (and eat the food...)

Beach mats are the easiest and cheapest target we can find around here. we had rolled them by pairs and soaked them in water for 36 hours. Next time I will stuff them with a little dowel or bamboo in order to stabilize them.
Diagonal KESA GIRI or KIRIAGE cuts are much easier to perform than DO cut. During these, they really have a tendency to bend, because of their lack of tranversal rigidity.
Real tatami mats would be nice - ... They can be found at Nihonzahi or Bamboos... Anyone who knows how to build a Bamboo cutting stand...

For Safety purposes, I had delimited the cutting area by laying a piece of wood 15 feet in front of the target. Only the person cutting was supposed to pass this line to cut, all the others were supposed to stay behind the line.
The sun being bright and hot, we quickly all gathered to the right of the cutting stand, in the shade of a Pecan tree.

Everything went well, for his first tameshigiri practice Levi did remarkably well. Then while cutting down in Kesa Giri one of us lost control and grasp of his sword, which ended up laying in the grass 3 or 4 feet behind him.
Fortunately it did not fly toward us, but toward and behind the line, where we should have been protected against such occurence...

That person has been previously involved in several tameshigiri practices, and is always concerned by safety mattters in all activities. This incident was not the result of being unprepaired or inexperienced, but of a sudden and unexpected lack of strength in his hands, due to a medical condition.
We were quite lucky as his is a heavy practical XL katana that could have happily flown through any one of us sentient being...

Morals of the story: Considering that :
  1. No matter how good one is, he or she might let go of the sword (or a piece of it)
  2. The direction the sword (or part of it) will take is not necessarily the expected one.
  3. Swords are sharper and harder than any body parts.

DEFINE A HUGE CUTTING AREA materialized by an actual line - wood, fence, rope on the ground... placed at least 20 feet behind the target. In this area between the line and the target, only the person cutting and the person in charge of tending the target are allowed. That person will get back behind the line before the cutting person gets back to cutting.


1 comment:

Pierre Turlur said...


About Uji you wrote the following:

Did Dogen really think when he wrote Shobogenzo, that 8 centuries down the road we would still try to understand what he was trying to say to some not so bright 13th century Japanese farmers ?

I shall not question your expertise in the field of martial arts and you seem quite knowledgeable. Neverthless, may I suggest that there are no 8 centuries down the road and surely Dogen was not trying to say stuff to farmers who were, by the way, much brighter than you think.

Anyway, goo luck and as you are interested in Soto practice, as you say so well: back to the cushion.