and Cutting Practice
There are many different
materials that can be used for cutting practice, tatami omote
is only one of them. Some cutting materials can give you
more information than others so it is important to choose carefully
to make sure you get the most value for the cost. While each
material may have something of value to teach you about your cutting,
only one target material gives you the most information for the
least amount of money per target. We believe that tatami gives
you the most and the best feedback of any cutting material currently
available and that's why we decided to sell it. If you're interested
in the whole story, look
At this point it
is important to understand that a target which is very easy to
cut, or seemingly impossible to cut, is not necessarily a target
that will teach you the most about your cutting ability, or help
you with what you need to learn. Of course, if all you want to
do is to cut something in half, then pick the least expensive
material and have at it, just don't call yourself a swordsman.
If you are serious
about your training then you
want to learn something from your cutting practice, either
about your technique, the sword, or yourself. You should be
looking for information, in
the form of feedback, from the cutting material. Your focus should
be on things like body position and movement, swing angle, blade
angle, point of contact, type of blade, edge geometry, etc. A
good martial artist is less worried about making it all the way
through the target on every cut, and more concerned with learning
new information that will improve their understanding and their
cutting ability overall.
approach to target cutting, there is really only one simple
question you have to ask yourself when it comes to target material
selection; what do you want to get out of your cutting practice?
A good target material will have an ideal combination of
density, cutting resistance similar to muscle, wetness (because
people are wet inside which lubricates the cutting action of the
sword), and will maintain it's shape once the cut is finished
so that you can look at it afterwards to see what went right, and
what went wrong.
Cardboard Tubes, Cardboard Boxes- virtually
free cutting materials. The biggest drawbacks are the mess (with
soaked newspaper) and the high level off abrasive materials
which remain in the paper and cardboard. This abrasive
grit is used to help grind up the pulp and stays in the finished
product. It will prematurely dull your sword and may scratch
or mark the surface.
Fruits and Veggies- readily
available and very flashy for demo's. Because of their generally
small size they can be useful for targeting practice.
However, they do not offer much in the way of density or resistance.
If you do use fruits or veggies be careful to clean the acids and
sugars off of your sword as they can cause damage to the metal
Pool Noodles- are
actually a very good cutting material because they show EXACTLY
what your swing angle was as the blade passed through the target.
They are flimsy, so a bad blade angle or a poor grip will
be very obvious. The biggest drawback to pool noodles is that they
do not offer the density or resistance of the better target materials
and they are not that inexpensive.
Pop or Milk Bottles- filled
with water, these are good because they are virtually free and
offer a degree of difficulty in that your cut has to be reasonably
well done or the bottle is knocked over. They do not offer the
density or difficulty of the better target materials.
very popular target in the EMA. The density and cutting resistance
of freshly harvested bamboo is supposed to be similar to bone because
bamboo has a porous wall and a hollow center, just like bone.
Be careful when cutting bamboo, there are over 100 varieties and
some are as hard as wood. Find
something that is 1" to
diameter, with a 1/8" to 1/4"
wall thickness that is porous. Please make
sure to get some instruction from an experienced teacher before
using any hard cutting material and only use freshly cut bamboo
that is still wet inside.
wood, and that is what an ax is for. Wood is readily available
but does not have any of the features we need in a good target
material and poses a real risk of damage to your sword and yourself
if the cut is done incorrectly.
a popular target material in the WMA. This material is used mostly
for testing a sword to see how it tracks in a powerful overhead
cut. Please make sure to get some instruction from an experienced
teacher before cutting plywood to avoid injuring yourself or damaging
Beach Mats- the
ones with the colored cloth edges found in many import and discount
stores actually do not work too well. They are not stitched together
tightly enough to stand up to cutting and will frequently just
bend over, even if you have good cutting technique. By the time
you roll enough of these mats together to get a half-decent target
you have spent more than you would on something better.
Tatami Mats- actually
tatami omote, the cover of a tatami mat, read
We feel that this target material offers all of the desired attributes
in one material at a reasonable cost. When soaked in water they
make a dense target that has resistance similar to muscle and connective
tissue. You can start with a half-mat and work your way up to full
or double-mat targets. Once that level has been achieved you can
add a dowel or piece of bamboo in the center to simulate the cutting
quality of bone.
of course an excellent target if you are lucky enough to have an
inexpensive source or a very large budget. If you do use meat you
should try to get as large a piece as possibile with the muscle
groups intact. If you are planning on cutting any bone then the
meat must be EXTREMELY FRESH since the bone will begin hardening
the instant the animal dies. Hardened bone can do serious damage
to a sword so unless you know the history of what you are cutting
avoid the bone. Whenever doing this type of cutting practice please
make every effort to learn as much as you possibly can. Remembering
that an animal gave it's life, please go about your cutting practice
with respect and as little waste as possible.
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