Tameshigiri is the classical Japanese method of test cutting. Traditionally the purpose of tameshigiri was two-fold. First, it ensures that the student is employing proper cutting mechanics in relation to cutting a realistic target. Secondly, it served to test the structural integrity of a sword.
Historically, human bodies, usually cadavers or condemned criminals, were used for test cutting from the feudal era until the modern age. This is not practical now, so we use makiwara (training targets) as cutting targets – specifically rolled and soaked tatami mats and bamboo.
At the Jigoku Dojo, we practice a variety of cuts with the objective being to add realism to our kenjutsu and battojutsu practice. The student learns how to cut with appropriate power in relation to the target. The impact dynamics of different targets are explored, as is learning proper hasuji (cutting angle) for the type of cut practiced. This training is also critical for honing the practitioner’s mental awareness and concentration, which serves as a gateway to the accumulation of spiritual strength.