This thread is mainly for the benefit of those new to swords. Since I am far from an expert, I also encourage other sword art practioners to add to this list, if I missed anything. Safety tips from the Swordlady: This goes without saying: Do not attempt to teach yourself a sword art. There are many intricacies in all of the sword arts that simply can't be learned from a book or video. Even the simple act of drawing and resheating a katana requires precise hand movements and positioning. If you haven't read about Don Rice on SFI yet, I encourage you to do so. Genuine sword art training does exist. These links have information about where you can begin your search. Some may disagree with me, but I don't have a problem with total beginners attempting to cut *soft* targets (such as water jugs) -just as long as they use some common sense. I don't recommend for the inexperienced to try cutting tatami mats, since it is very easy to bend a sword blade from a botched cut. If you want to try some cutting, make sure your sword is actually suitable for use - see the Stickied Wallhanger thread. A cheap stainless $10 sword bought from eBay is most likely NOT usable. Make sure you have plenty of space for cutting - preferably outdoors in a large yard. Use a wooden stand, not a metal one. A metal stand will mess up your blade (or break it) if you accidentally hit it. If there are other people in the vicinity, do NOT cut in their direction. Cut away from any bystanders, and make sure they are standing several feet away - in case the sword happens to go flying (honestly it shouldn't, but just in case...) Don't try anything fancy - like twirling your sword around, or doing any running cuts (like those knuckleheads in the video). And make sure you do not cut towards your leg! Be very careful when cleaning your sword. It doesn't take that much pressure for the sword to cut through the rag and right into your fingers. Always remember that your sword is a weapon designed to cut human flesh, NOT a plaything. Treat your sword with the same respect you would give a firearm. Unlike a firearm, a sword does not have a safety switch and cannot be unloaded. If there are children in the house, make sure your sword is out of reach, preferably locked up. Do not allow others to handle your sword without your permission. If you do give someone permission to handle your sword, do not turn your back on him/her. Be aware of where your sword is at all times. These are just a few pointers I've found helpful over the years. Train well, and be safe.