Samurai Sword Use

Samurai swords are dangerous weapons and must be treated with respect to avoid injury. Do not swing a sword (or any edged weapon) carelessly or without forethought. Remember, these swords were developed as lethal weapons and must be treated with the utmost respect to avoid injury to yourself and others. Do not unsheath your sword until you make sure that you are well out of reach of other people.

If you wish to practice cutting with your sword:

  • Make sure that the sword is specifically designed for the type of target that you are cutting.
  • Seek training from a competent instructor.
  • Cut only targets that can be cut cleanly with a single stroke. Rolled and soaked grass mats, plastic water bottles and pool noodles are fine, trees and 2 x 4’s are not. A sword is not an axe and will bend if struck hard enough against an unyielding object.
  • Make sure that the targets are properly supported at a comfortable height.
  • Seek to improve your proficiency in making clean cuts with the minimum of effort. Do not try to “test the limits” of your sword – it is dangerous and historic battlefields are littered with broken blades!

If you participate in reenactment or sparring:

  • Make sure that your sword is specifically designed for the activity in which you are engaged. Reenactment swords have thick edges and rounded tips – the minimum safe dimensions are often specified by the reenactment organization or society. Sparring swords are also blunt and must meet certain flexibility requirements for safety.
  • Seek training from a competent instructor.
  • Operate only in a safe and organized environment with competent supervision.
  • Try to avoid edge-to-edge contact whenever possible. In some fighting styles this is, however, unavoidable and edges will “nick” (steel toughness can mitigate the extent of the distortion but when two equally hard edges are struck together both edges will be nicked – just a matter of physics). After each session examine your blade for any sharp burrs created by nicking and, if any are present, remove them with a file to ensure that your next opponent will not be cut.