Sword safety - ***PLEASE READ***

Discussion in 'Sword Arts Talk' started by Swordlady, Jun 20, 2006.

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  1. Swordlady

    Swordlady Senior Master

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    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:
    1. 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.​
    2. 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!​
    3. 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.
    4. 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. :)
     
  2. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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  3. Cryozombie

    Cryozombie Grandmaster

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    Awww. I wanted to do a running slice of a watermelon on a ladder with a sword from Home Shopping Network.

    All Kidding aside, this is an excellent piece of advice... Way to go.
     
  4. Swordlady

    Swordlady Senior Master

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    Whoops..I forgot to add another point:

    Do NOT spar with sharp blades, period! You would think that people have enough sense not to use sharp swords with each other, but I've read enough stories about folks who actually have done this. I came across this kid on a MySpace group; he played a game called "First Blood". He and another kid fought with these cheap wallhangers. Whoever drew first blood won one hundred dollars. Same kid made another post, complaining about getting cut and how much it hurt. Needless to say, most of the other posters didn't have much sympathy for him.

    I wouldn't even spar with bokken, since it does not take much force to break a bone or crack a skull. If you really want to do some approximation of sword fighting, give kendo or fencing a try. Or join the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). Bear in mind that all of those groups are more of a sport than a sword art.

    Edited to add: I just remembered that some WMA groups do spar with wooden wasters. But they also wear appropriate padding and thick gloves to protect their hands.
     
  5. Kacey

    Kacey Sr. Grandmaster

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    Nice tips - thanks for posting them.
     
  6. Lisa

    Lisa Don't get Chewed!

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    Excellent thread Swordlady! Thanks for posting it!
     
  7. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    You HAD to post this just before I went out and played Last Samurai didn't you!!! Well I guess I can always still go play Jedi knight with fluorescent light tubes
    :jedi1:

    Thank you, this is great information and a great post.
     
  8. Swordlady

    Swordlady Senior Master

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    ...and I found the thread in question, buried deep in the MySpace Sword Enthusiasts group. I also posted my two bits to the thread starter on page two. Scroll to the bottom of the page; my response is three posts up, and his explanation of the "first blood" game immediately follows.
     
  9. howard

    howard Brown Belt

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    One more thing to consider... even if you are training in a legitimate school and under the auspices of a qualified instructor, NEVER let your concentration and focus waver while you're working with a live blade.

    A few years ago, one our master instructors in Korea did just that, during a form. The particular technique involves, from a position on your knees but with your body erect, drawing the sword straight out and blocking, blade out to your left, so that your right hand ends up directly above and slightly in front of your head, your arm fully extended, the sword pointing downward at about a 30 degree angle. When he drew, he ran the edge across his cheek and opened a large gash that bled profusely. This is an instructor with many years of dedicated practice under his belt.

    He told us that his focus had lapsed because his mind "was not clean" (in other words, something distracted him mentally).
     
  10. Swordlady

    Swordlady Senior Master

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    Very good point about maintaining concentration and focus - called zanshin in the Japanese martial arts. It only takes a fraction of a second to seriously hurt yourself, if you're not paying attention to what you are doing at all times. I cut my knuckles once during noto (resheating). Fortunately, it was a very shallow cut (barely a scratch), but still more than enough to catch my attention - or lack of it at the time.
     
  11. Charles Mahan

    Charles Mahan Purple Belt

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    Shinken are like guns that can't be unloaded and have no safety.
     
  12. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    Jennifer,
    I would like to clarify this statement in your original post. If someone is cutting targets with a sword and there are spectators present, they should be at least 10 feet away. They should also be directly in front so that the cutter is facing directly toward the spectators. I have seen lots of people doing lots of tameshigiri. I have also seen several swords get away from their users. I have heard of a number of other incidences. In each case, the sword flew either directly or diagonally to the rear. The reason being that people lose control of their sword when they try to swing too hard and the sword pops out of their hands. This doesn't happen in front of them where a good grip is easy to maintain, but around to the side where proper technique becomes more important.

    Just wanted to make that point very clear. Standing behind someone who is cutting means that you must be very vigilent, and be ready to jump if their sword comes clattering in your direction. Being 10 feet away means that the sword will be on the ground by the time it gets to you, rather than flying through the air.
     
  13. Swordlady

    Swordlady Senior Master

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    Thanks for the clarification, Paul. :) I was thinking about the knuckleheads in the video - especially the one kid who charged towards the other kid holding the camcorder. A couple other homemade vids on SFI also came to mind. I didn't consider that the sword may fly to the rear as well. Thanks again for your help!
     
  14. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Very good point!

    Brian R. VanCise
    www.instinctiveresponsetraining.com
     
  15. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    You're very welcome. It's another one of those things that isn't real obvious. I've seen a number of videos of people cutting stuff that just make me cringe when I see it. I have decided to put together a seminar in early August for those folks that don't want to get legitimate instruction, but still want to cut stuff with their swords. I figure this way they'll at least get the basics of safety, and hopefully won't lose any body parts. :)
     
  16. Cruentus

    Cruentus Grandmaster

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    At an OP in view of your house...
    I would err on the side of caution and would have spectators be at least 20 feet away or more; 10 feet just seems a little close.

    Good points everyone...

    Paul Janulis
     
  17. shesulsa

    shesulsa Columbia Martial Arts Academy

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    Moderator Note:

    Thread locked. This is meant to be an informative sticky, not a debate on safe sword practices.

    If you would like to add something to this sticky in regards to sword safety practices, please either start a new thread or PM one of the moderators for this forum.

    Thank you,

    G Ketchmark / shesulsa
    MT Super Moderator
     
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