test cutting on rattan?

wushuguy

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i've seen vids on test cutting on tatami mats, or bamboo, or milk jugs. but one thing i was wondering, has anyone done test cuts on rattan or hardwood sticks, such as would be used in spear shafts or wooden staff?
 

Carol

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Best to find an instructor and ask them for yourself.
 

Ken Morgan

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Test cutting is to simulate cutting into a human body. The best way to simulate that is by cutting tatami mats that have been soaked in water overnight or fresh bamboo. Apparently both are very similar to cutting through skin, muscle, tendons and bone of a walking, talking human being.

The only people who cut water jugs are fourteen year old kids in the backyard.

There are issues with cutting rattan, but firstly, why would you want to? A hard piece of wood increases the chance of scratching, bending or even chipping a blade. Im assuming you have some laying about and want to make use of them?

There is nothing mystical about live test cutting. $10 machetes from a camping store will do the trick quite nicely. Hell I can train anyone in about 30 minutes to cut through mats, it is not hard.

Oh and + 1 on what Carol, the home/garage owner, said. :)
 

lklawson

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Test cutting is to simulate cutting into a human body.
There are at least five different reasons why one might legitimately want to test cut, only one of which is simulating cutting into a human body.

I agree that there are also a number of legitimate reasons why one might not want to test cut. As you say, the risk of damaging your blade is one of them.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 
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wushuguy

wushuguy

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Hi, yeah I know that test cutting those material is supposed to be to simulate cutting into people, but, I was just curious how weapon on weapon or weapon on armor does. I'm sure there will be damage done to both weapon and to armor, but I was just curious how much damage each could take before being, well, useless.

If I had extra $ and a backyard I'd buy a beater sword and try slicing things myself, but that's not possible in my little apartment.
 

Langenschwert

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Hi, yeah I know that test cutting those material is supposed to be to simulate cutting into people, but, I was just curious how weapon on weapon or weapon on armor does. I'm sure there will be damage done to both weapon and to armor, but I was just curious how much damage each could take before being, well, useless.

If I had extra $ and a backyard I'd buy a beater sword and try slicing things myself, but that's not possible in my little apartment.

Weapon on weapon impact will damage the sword to one degree or another. It's a tool, it's expendable, so no biggie. Proper technique tends to mitigate damage though. Bash two sharp swords edge to edge and you'll likely ruin them instantly. Bash them edge to flat, and you'll end up with damage that is easy to file out.

Against armour, it depends on what kind of armour you're facing. Against maille, you're trying to cause blunt trauma THROUGH the maille to the person wearing it, not cut it, since metal armour really isn't cuttable.

Against plate, you thrust to the weak points since plate is completely impervious to sword cuts. The most likely damage there is bent and broken tips.

Here are some videos so you don't have to go ruining swords and armour and endangering yourself without need:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy9OQoqW_MA&feature=related

Best regards,

-Mark
 
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pgsmith

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Test cutting is to simulate cutting into a human body.
Gotta disagree with you here Ken. There are many different reasons for tameshigiri on various targets, but I've never heard of any of them being to specifically simulate cutting into a human body. Cutting a single tatami mat can tell you whether your hasuji is proper, your tip speed is sufficient, and if your sword is properly extended before contacting a target. Cutting futomaki, double or more tatami rolled into a single target, can tell you if you can properly apply more power to your cut without affecting the other necessary aspects. Cutting yokonarabi, a number of targets lined up side by side, will tell you if your body is properly positioned and moving correctly when you cut. Cutting bamboo can tell you if your grip is proper and doesn't change when encountering the shock of a harder target. Cutting milk jugs can tell you .... ummmm .... nothing, which is why we leave that to the back yard ninjer set. :)
P.S. A number of times I have cleanly and easily cut through 1" oak dowels that I've had targets pegged on. However, once I seriously bent a sword, and once took a rather large chip out of one when I've hit the 1" oak peg incorrectly.
 
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wushuguy

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i found this online:

http://forum.grtc.org/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=997

something like this is what i was thinking of. Cuz i wanted to know the durability of the weapons and armor. If the swords or weapons lasted a lifetime of use, or were in need of replacement after 1 or 2 battles, and how many battles a piece of armor would live through before needing replacement as well. From the pictures there, I would assume that the armor doesn't last long, and the sword would fair a bit better.
 

Ken Morgan

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Gotta disagree with you here Ken. There are many different reasons for tameshigiri on various targets, but I've never heard of any of them being to specifically simulate cutting into a human body

I agree that you can identify weakness in your technique or your weapons when test cutting, that you may not find in "normal" practice. That being said, when you get multiple 80 year old Japanese 8th dans telling you it simulates the cutting of a human body, ya believe them!
So there....:)
 

lklawson

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Cutting milk jugs can tell you .... ummmm .... nothing, which is why we leave that to the back yard ninjer set. :)
Sorry, I can't totally agree.

Cutting milk jugs can tech important lessons. They will let you see if you are twisting, scooping, or scalloping your cuts. Additionally because they are "soft" and "easy" targets there is minimal chance of significantly damaging your blade if the technique is horrible or something goes horribly wonky.

That said, I agree that this is a "basic" sort of thing that many feel is best for newbies or even, better yet, addressed "by the careful eye of a watchful instructor" instead of on targets they see as non-traditional.

Additionally, because these are "soft" and essentially free, they are an effective way to practice the repetitive "over and over" basic movements which make the foundation of advancing ones art when simply "cutting air" would not identify lapses in technique and vast quantities of prepped tatami would be cost and time prohibitive for most.

While there may be other, "better" targets, denigrating or dismissing these is, at the risk of sounding combative (please forgive), a bit closed minded and short sighted.

P.S. A number of times I have cleanly and easily cut through 1" oak dowels that I've had targets pegged on. However, once I seriously bent a sword, and once took a rather large chip out of one when I've hit the 1" oak peg incorrectly.
And that's the risk associated with cutting wood. It's really easy to damage your blade. Additionally, you need to define what exactly it is you are "testing" with the materials and methods being used in cutting. Is oak dowel cutting used for improving or demonstrating technique or is it for some other reason.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

lklawson

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That being said, when you get multiple 80 year old Japanese 8th dans telling you it simulates the cutting of a human body, ya believe them!
No I don't. I don't believe something is true just because an old oriental dude says so. And neither should you.

When you get right down to it, tatami reacts differently than animal flesh (aka "humans"). It has to because it is different material. Flesh is not dried rice straw no matter how you soak it and you can tell this empirically by a trip to the kitchen with a steak and a roll of tatami. It simply cuts differently and reacts differently after cut. Tatami "holds" it's shape more cleanly after a cut and has less deformation due to elastic properties than flesh. It doesn't "pull," "stretch," or compress the way flesh does. However, it can give a much more accurate visual "track" of the path of the cut so that gives it a high training value.

I suspect that it is closer to the truth to say that tatami was the closest simulation to cutting flesh available with the technology of the time when it was developed.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

lklawson

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i found this online:

http://forum.grtc.org/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=997

something like this is what i was thinking of. Cuz i wanted to know the durability of the weapons and armor. If the swords or weapons lasted a lifetime of use, or were in need of replacement after 1 or 2 battles, and how many battles a piece of armor would live through before needing replacement as well. From the pictures there, I would assume that the armor doesn't last long, and the sword would fair a bit better.
This is one example of reasons for tameshigiri which is both historically accurate and has nothing to do with either proving or improving the skill of the man cutting.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 
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pgsmith

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I agree that you can identify weakness in your technique or your weapons when test cutting, that you may not find in "normal" practice. That being said, when you get multiple 80 year old Japanese 8th dans telling you it simulates the cutting of a human body, ya believe them!
While I do agree with your sentiment, I think it's the semantics that cause us to disagree. If multiple 8th dans tell you that it simulates cutting a body, that doesn't mean that that is why you do it, which is what you alluded in your first post. I've also heard, by a couple of Nakamura Taisaburo's students, that a single tatami mat target is roughly equivalent to a human arm, and that if you place bamboo in the center it is roughly equivalent to a human leg. I figure that, given Nakamura sensei's background, he would know. However, this doesn't mean that a person would cut tatami to simulate cutting a human arm, it just happens to require the equivalent force.
Cutting milk jugs can tech important lessons. They will let you see if you are twisting, scooping, or scalloping your cuts.
I have to disagree with that notion. Very soft targets such as pool noodles and milk jugs will deform when hit. I had one fellow come to a cutting seminar that I gave a few years back that I couldn't make him cut straight because he had cut so many milk jugs that he instinctively adjusted the path of his sword to compensate for the deformation of the milk jug. When cutting a target that did not deform (tatami), he would either stick, or scoop quite a bit.
Additionally because they are "soft" and "easy" targets there is minimal chance of significantly damaging your blade if the technique is horrible or something goes horribly wonky.
But that's part of the cutting experience. Let your concentration drift, and you can lose body parts. Far better (in my mind) to have the constant threat of damaging your sword to make sure that you are paying close attention to what you're doing.
Additionally, because these are "soft" and essentially free, they are an effective way to practice the repetitive "over and over" basic movements which make the foundation of advancing ones art when simply "cutting air" would not identify lapses in technique and vast quantities of prepped tatami would be cost and time prohibitive for most.
It's that "over and over" practice that gave the gentleman in my seminar such problems. Cutting correctly is not a matter of tameshigiri "over and over". Some groups, Toyama ryu in particular, practice a lot of tameshigiri. Most groups, mine included, only practice occasionally. It's not cost prohibitive if you only cut every 10 to 12 weeks.
While there may be other, "better" targets, denigrating or dismissing these is, at the risk of sounding combative (please forgive), a bit closed minded and short sighted.
I don't think so myself. I prefer to think of it as experience teaching me that soft targets such as milk bottles and pool noodles have nothing that furthers my art, which is the point of tameshigiri. Don't get me wrong, cutting stuff up with a sword is a lot of fun. However, there's a great difference between cutting stuff up for fun and properly performing tameshigiri to further my understanding of my chosen sword art. Too many people these days like to think of the two as the same thing, but they're very definitely not.
Is oak dowel cutting used for improving or demonstrating technique or is it for some other reason.
Ummmmm .... I guess that would be some other reason. :) One inch oak dowels are what I use as a peg on my target stand to keep the tatami upright. The dowel is sharpened on top, and sticks up six inches. If I cut too low on the target, I am going to hit the dowel. It is something that you try and avoid doing as it can damage your sword, and it means you have to sharpen a new dowel. I've screwed up a number of times and cut through the dowel as I mentioned earlier.
 

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I have to disagree with that notion. Very soft targets such as pool noodles and milk jugs will deform when hit. I had one fellow come to a cutting seminar that I gave a few years back that I couldn't make him cut straight because he had cut so many milk jugs that he instinctively adjusted the path of his sword to compensate for the deformation of the milk jug. When cutting a target that did not deform (tatami), he would either stick, or scoop quite a bit.
I agree that he was trying to push the medium far further than it could go in addition to only cutting one, very limited, medium. There are limitations to everything and he didn't know what it was.

But that's part of the cutting experience. Let your concentration drift, and you can lose body parts. Far better (in my mind) to have the constant threat of damaging your sword to make sure that you are paying close attention to what you're doing.
Please tell me you're exaggerating for effect.

If it is a dangerous experience for you then, you're probably not ready to test cut or you are taking unnecessary risks.

It's that "over and over" practice that gave the gentleman in my seminar such problems. Cutting correctly is not a matter of tameshigiri "over and over". Some groups, Toyama ryu in particular, practice a lot of tameshigiri. Most groups, mine included, only practice occasionally.
Of course, the old adage "perfect practice makes perfect." The corollary is that imperfect practice makes imperfect.

It's not cost prohibitive if you only cut every 10 to 12 weeks.
Great. Feel free to send me money every 10 to 12 weeks. The point is that what YOU think is cost prohibitive doesn't have any relation to anyone who's not you.

I don't think so myself. I prefer to think of it as experience teaching me that soft targets such as milk bottles and pool noodles have nothing that furthers my art, which is the point of tameshigiri.
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding and, if so, please forgive me, but I'm getting an impression of "only tatami is worth anything because it's just like cutting human limbs." And, to be rude, if that's what you think, then you need to give up your vegetarian ways. ;) The only thing that's like cutting meat and bone is cutting meat and bone.

Don't get me wrong, cutting stuff up with a sword is a lot of fun. However, there's a great difference between cutting stuff up for fun and properly performing tameshigiri to further my understanding of my chosen sword art. Too many people these days like to think of the two as the same thing, but they're very definitely not.
Of course. As I said, there are at least 5 different reasons to do test cutting. One of them is for entertainment. Another is to better learn technique. There are still a minimum of three others.

Ummmmm .... I guess that would be some other reason. :) One inch oak dowels are what I use as a peg on my target stand to keep the tatami upright. The dowel is sharpened on top, and sticks up six inches. If I cut too low on the target, I am going to hit the dowel.
Well that would explain it. I was wondering why you'd risk your shinken on oak dowels. I got the impression that it was a deliberate decision.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

lklawson

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P.S.,

Re-reading this morning what I wrote it seems to come across a lot grumpier than I intended.

Please excuse the grumpy subtext.

Perhaps I should let this sit for a while. :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

pgsmith

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Please tell me you're exaggerating for effect.
Somewhat.
If it is a dangerous experience for you then, you're probably not ready to test cut or you are taking unnecessary risks.
I've not cut myself in the 15 years I've been practicing tameshigiri, but any time you take a sharp sword out of its sheath is a dangerous experience. Thinking it's not is how people get complacent and get hurt. It has been my experience that the very real thought of a less experienced practitioner bending his sword makes them concentrate much harder on proper technique, which is the whole point of tameshigiri within a sword art.
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding and, if so, please forgive me, but I'm getting an impression of "only tatami is worth anything because it's just like cutting human limbs." And, to be rude, if that's what you think, then you need to give up your vegetarian ways. ;) The only thing that's like cutting meat and bone is cutting meat and bone.
You've misunderstood me completely. What I feel is that only tatami is worth anything because it has a firm enough consistency to provide the feedback that is the point of tameshigiri within the Japanese sword arts. In order for a student to cut a single tatami mat on a stand, he has to have sufficient tip speed, the sword has to be properly extended (no slapping at it), and the sword has to be properly aligned with the direction of the cut. If any of these are missing, it will not cut. If any of these are just a little bit off, it will show in the cut edge that's left on the target, as well as in where the cut piece landed. We do not use tatami to practice cutting. It is far simpler and much more cost effective to practice cutting on air. We use tatami to verify what parts of a students cut that they need to work on improving.
The only thing that's like cutting meat and bone is cutting meat and bone.
Personally, I've found no reason to cut meat and bone, although I do ask the wife every year if I can carve Thanksgiving turkey with my sword. :)
Please excuse the grumpy subtext.
No worries, I get that way more often than not myself. :)

Bear in mind that these are just my opinions, based upon my own experiences. I've cut pretty much anything that can be cut with a sword, and have come to the conclusion that the only reason for cutting stuff up is to further my understanding of the sword. The best thing I've found for doing that is tatami. Anything else is not worth my time (which is in very short supply!) or effort.
 

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The only people who cut water jugs are fourteen year old kids in the backyard.

Ah to be 14 again LOL, well here i am (a little older than 14 but maybe none the wiser) hacking up milk jugs, enjoy even if only for a jiggle at my expence, which is perfectly OK by me. Oh & yes the cutting form is shocking but this was the first cutting i had done in about 24-25yrs so I'm not all that surprised or upset.

 
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Brian R. VanCise

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Personally I like cutting all different types of material. Though I must admit that tatami is my favorite. Still cutting meat is interesting too and you can barbecue afterwards if you do it right! ;)
 

lklawson

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which is the whole point of tameshigiri within a sword art. ... You've misunderstood me completely. What I feel is that only tatami is worth anything because it has a firm enough consistency to provide the feedback that is the point of tameshigiri within the Japanese sword arts.
Kabuto Wari?

In order for a student to cut a single tatami mat on a stand, he has to have sufficient tip speed, the sword has to be properly extended (no slapping at it), and the sword has to be properly aligned with the direction of the cut. If any of these are missing, it will not cut. If any of these are just a little bit off, it will show in the cut edge that's left on the target, as well as in where the cut piece landed. We do not use tatami to practice cutting. It is far simpler and much more cost effective to practice cutting on air. We use tatami to verify what parts of a students cut that they need to work on improving.

Personally, I've found no reason to cut meat and bone, although I do ask the wife every year if I can carve Thanksgiving turkey with my sword. :)
Here's an article I wrote on Test Cutting, specifically targeted at the modern Western tradition Martial Artist: http://cbd.atspace.com/articles/testcutting/test-cutting.html (yes, it needs some spelling corrections).

Bear in mind that these are just my opinions, based upon my own experiences. I've cut pretty much anything that can be cut with a sword, and have come to the conclusion that the only reason for cutting stuff up is to further my understanding of the sword. The best thing I've found for doing that is tatami. Anything else is not worth my time (which is in very short supply!) or effort.
Well, I guess we're just going to have to disagree that tatami is the pinnacle for informative feedback on cutting technique. I think that tatami is useful and can be valuable, but I certainly believe that meat and bone, though riskier to the blade, provides better feedback about technique. <shrug>

Somehow I doubt that we will need to duel in order to resolve our dispute. ;)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

pgsmith

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Kabuto Wari?
Kabuto wari was not performed within the Japanese sword arts. Kabuto wari was traditionally performed by professional sword testers specifically to test the durability of a particular smith's sword. These were the same sword testers that performed the various cuts on cadavers that can be found inscribed on a few shinken.
Here's an article I wrote on Test Cutting
Very interesting read, thanks!
Well, I guess we're just going to have to disagree that tatami is the pinnacle for informative feedback on cutting technique. I think that tatami is useful and can be valuable, but I certainly believe that meat and bone, though riskier to the blade, provides better feedback about technique. <shrug>
I guess it's all in what a person's training involves, and in how they're trained. As one of my instructors was fond of saying ... "It's all good!"
 
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