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Joshua MacDonald




Location: Chiba City, Japan
Joined: 16 Nov 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue 13 Feb, 2007 10:04 pm    Post subject: Alternative cutting targets         Reply with quote

Hello all.

On Monday I was the fortunate enough to attend a special sword class where we practiced cutting tattami.
Old, rolled up tattami. Those who were able to cut the tatami with ease were able to try something else.

Sensei had us try to cut empty milk cartons (not weighted or anchored down in any way). So far, he was the only one who could do actually cut through on, but only after several attempts.

He said it was quite challenging and good training supplement.

What do you guys think about that?
Anything else you suggest cutting?

Anything that you recommend NOT cutting?

Thanks,

Josh
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Tue 13 Feb, 2007 10:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Alternative cutting targets         Reply with quote

Joshua MacDonald wrote:

Anything that you recommend NOT cutting?


Anything hard enough to damage the edge of the sword.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Joshua MacDonald




Location: Chiba City, Japan
Joined: 16 Nov 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Wed 14 Feb, 2007 9:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Anything hard enough to damage the edge of the sword.


Thanks George for your indepth analysis.
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Sam Barris




Location: San Diego, California
Joined: 29 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Feb, 2007 9:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Given your location, I'd recommend not cutting any stone lanterns, if you can avoid it. Don't cut the Shinkansen, either. (How is that for in-depth?) Otherwise, I'd say George's comment sums it up fairly well. Don't cut things that might damage your sword. I'd also add (for the sake of levity and good cheer) that it might be best to not cut things you may want later.

Since you have a sensei, you might ask him what targets he wants you to be cutting in terms of the style of swordsmanship you're practicing, or even if he wants you to be cutting at all without his guidance. Some teachers are afraid of their students picking up bad habits by doing too much on their own. Especially in Japan.

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Feb, 2007 6:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua MacDonald wrote:


Thanks George for your indepth analysis.


Joshua,
This sarcastic comment is not appreciated. Feel free to ask for more depth in an answer or for clarification. Do not, however, resort to sarcasm.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/


Last edited by Chad Arnow on Thu 15 Feb, 2007 9:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Carl Goff




Location: Florida
Joined: 27 Sep 2005
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Posts: 196

PostPosted: Thu 15 Feb, 2007 9:13 am    Post subject: Re: Alternative cutting targets         Reply with quote

A serious answer: Sam seems to have a fair knowledge of the subject, so I'd suggest taking his advice. Also, if you can find somewhere where condemned meat is stored prior to destruction, (one of the guys over at Sword Forum International managed this) the guys running that place might let you practice there. A recently-killed carcass would be best, because something in the consistency of meat/bone thickens after death.

There was going to be a not-so-serious answer here, but I realized the Mods would can it.

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Hugo Voisine





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PostPosted: Thu 15 Feb, 2007 10:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An alternative to empty milk and juice jugs or cartons might be empty kleenex boxes (very thin cardboard). Easy to get those during winter. Wink
« Que dites-vous ?... C'est inutile ?... Je le sais !
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Joshua MacDonald




Location: Chiba City, Japan
Joined: 16 Nov 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Thu 15 Feb, 2007 9:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry is anyone felt that my previous comment was too sarcastic (George, Chad, et al.), however it was not meant to be mean spirited.

Perhaps I should have stated myself more clearly.

Have any of you had any experiences cutting targets other than tatami (and the like) the you thought were useful? If so, in what way did it add to your training?

Have you had any experiences cutting targets that you thought were not useful to your training? (Explain)
Have you ever damaged your sword, cutting something you probably shouldn't have?

Sam, I hope you haven't tried cutting any stone lanterns or shinkansens. Have you? WTF?!

Carl, cutting a recently-killed carcass is something I have seriously considered, however I think it would be a bit impractical here in Japan. Something I will be able to do when I get back to Canada.


About the milk cartons... I would appreciated your thoughts on this as well. Do you think it is actually worth doing? Have any of you tried this? How might it add to my training?

Thanks all.

Josh
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Thu 15 Feb, 2007 10:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua MacDonald wrote:

Have any of you had any experiences cutting targets other than tatami (and the like) the you thought were useful? If so, in what way did it add to your training?

Have you had any experiences cutting targets that you thought were not useful to your training? (Explain)
Have you ever damaged your sword, cutting something you probably shouldn't have?


Many people cut plastic bottles.

One fellow was using a glass bottle *AS A STAND for plastic bottles* accidently hit it, and damaged his sword. Many people cut saplings, and whilst this can be done for a time, many fine swords have been ruined as a result, (though rarely on the first cut.)

I've seen heavy cardboard tubes used, but I've heard the fiborous nature will dull a sword faster then other mediums. (No opinion of the truth of that however.)

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Adam Simmonds




Location: Henley-on-Thames
Joined: 10 Jun 2006

Posts: 137

PostPosted: Thu 15 Feb, 2007 11:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have found that fresh (green) bamboo stems make useful targets. They offer good resistance without being dangerous to a blade - so long as the blade is handled with care of course. Far superior to cardboard tubes in this regard. They also come in a variety of widths and densities and should, I imagine, be readily available in Japan.

Pumpkins are also fun to use and are not at all dangerous to a steel blade yet are not very realistic as far as replicating the density of flesh and bone. To practise such things as accuracy, distance and blade placement etc they are at least good fun.

As far as dead carcasses go - perhaps you could pick up a whole tuna at the local market and practise the arts of sushi preparation and swordmanship simultaneously? Could be a good party trick.

Cheers, Adam
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Sam Barris




Location: San Diego, California
Joined: 29 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Fri 16 Feb, 2007 12:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua MacDonald wrote:
Sam, I hope you haven't tried cutting any stone lanterns or shinkansens. Have you? WTF?!

Heh. No. That was just a snarky bit of retaliatory sarcasm. A riposte, as we say. I know not to cut rocks, and I like the Shinkansen too much to even try. It gave me a ride to Kyoto.

But seriously, your sensei is the answer man for any of these concerns. WMA is still a largely experimental field and most of its practitioners and teachers are still very busy establishing baselines for training. As such, innovation is a necessity. In JSA... not so much. I would strongly recommend you bounce any potential tameshigiri ideas off of your sensei for a final approval, even if all this might accomplish is to make him feel needed by his gaijin padawan.

Another practical thing to consider in Japan is what trash day your potential target will fall into. If it fits a category that is only collected once under the full moon of the third month of every other leap year, you may want to take a pass and use something else.

And of course, please let us know if you stumble onto any really great target ideas. Have fun! Big Grin

EDIT: I should add that my own preference is for tatami. Water-filled plastic bottles are also good, and cheap. But I'm kind of a tree-hugger, so if it can't either decompose or go into the recycling bin, I won't use it. This has already been covered in a previous thread. Sometimes I channel my inner R. Lee Emory and declare war on watermelons or pumpkins. There is probably nothing on that list that you haven't either tried or thought of yourself. Wish I could be more helpful. Worried

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Peter Johnsson
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Location: Storvreta, Sweden
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PostPosted: Fri 16 Feb, 2007 1:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Something I find seful as a target is wet newspaper rolled up.

I use a plastic pipe as a core. It is of a type marketed as Fusiotherm, used for plumbing instead of copper pipe. It has especially good characteristics fro test cutting as it pretty similar to living bone. It is hard buyt still tough. Hacking through it with an axetakes some effort and time. A good clean hit with a sword will sever it, however. You can get it in different diameters.

http://www.fusiotherm.com/306.0.html
http://www.fusiotherm.com/?id=333

At around 15 mm diameter is useful in pairs taped together with duct tape (=lower arm?).
At around 25-25 mm diameter is useful to mimic upper arms and leg targets.
At around 30 mm you get something like upper thigh or spine/neck.

25-30 milimeter is demanding for a single hand sword. 15 mm is easy.

Around this I wrap thoroughly soaked newspaper (back fold cut away to remove staples: it also helps getting the pages thoroughyl soaked). Put a pile of pages into a tub and fill with water. Let sit for a little while and makesure the water has reached all surfaces. Do not let the paper soak for too long as it will turn into a pulp.

When wrapping around the plastic pipes I apply enough pressure to squeze out most of the water, but not so much it becomes completely compact.
This material feels very similar to a sharp edge as raw meat. It is wet and fibrous, providing both resistance and lubrication. The mass (density and weight) is about the same as well.

I seal this with a layer of duct tape. This helps keeping the paper in place and also comes close to skin.

A telling target, it is a bit morbid. By using different diameters of pipe and varying the amount of paper wrapped around it, you can get targets of different difficulty.
I cannot guarantee the correspondense is absolute to a living target of same size and mass, but it is pretty close.

A good way to train actual techniques, seeing what it takes to deliver various types of strokes.

I only use westn syle swords that have flexibility: they won´t bend if the blade does not completely sever the target or if the "bone" turns the blade during the cut. I cannot say if japanese style sword is good for this type of cutting.

You might try using only rolled up wet newspaper, skipping the "bone" core.

Attached below are two pics someone took at a demo I did (this person is active on this forum: sorry I forgot who!) . You can tell I am no swordsman Wink but it shows the targets in action, at least....



 Attachment: 48.23 KB
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 Attachment: 53.34 KB
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Adam Simmonds




Location: Henley-on-Thames
Joined: 10 Jun 2006

Posts: 137

PostPosted: Sat 17 Feb, 2007 7:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hi there,

just wanted to give y'all some feedback after reading Peter's suggestion for using rolled up wet newspapers as cutting practice material. i gave it a try today, pushing the wet newspaper roll over the end of a green bamboo pole stuck in the ground in my garden. i can report that this makes an excellent and cheap target material, the best i have yet come across with the exception of raw meat. much better then, say, pumpkins or cardboard boxes.

cheers, adam
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Joshua MacDonald




Location: Chiba City, Japan
Joined: 16 Nov 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sun 18 Feb, 2007 9:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good stuff guys.

It's all worth a try. I like the sound of pumkins and plastic tubing with newspaper.

Great!

Thanks
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George C. Lewis




Location: Colorado
Joined: 26 Feb 2007

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2007 9:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You may want to consider these:

www.swordfodder.com
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Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar, 2009 2:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Barris wrote:
Given your location, I'd recommend not cutting any stone lanterns, if you can avoid it. Don't cut the Shinkansen, either. (How is that for in-depth?) Otherwise, I'd say George's comment sums it up fairly well. Don't cut things that might damage your sword. I'd also add (for the sake of levity and good cheer) that it might be best to not cut things you may want later.



I would add to the list of things not to cut, and in the same vein: Yourself, from bad technique Happy
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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar, 2009 11:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I have a rather limited cutting experience, but I'll throw in my 2 cents:

I have experimented with three different types of targets, cardboard boxes, kitty litter containers (the kind that are on par with milk jugs), and heavier apple juice/cranberry juice/etc jugs.

Based on this, I recommend trying just about anything that won't damage your sword and isn't hard to come by/dispose of, as everyone has already mentioned. This is because I found that different targets required slightly different technique.

Cardboard is easy to cut on a flat surface with a tip cut, but striking a corner or ridge with the sweet spot or similar makes it very hard to actually penetrate rather than crush the box.

The kitty litter containers (Filled with water, by the way. I'll have to try them sans water sometime.) were the most forgiving of my targets and I could readily cut through them even with the blade off-angle, regardless of whether the cut started with the tip or not.

The heavier jugs were the most interesting targets. I had a hard time with those, although I often hit with enough force to shatter and blow the cap clean off with a hit to the midsection. I trace the lack of penetration back to two major reasons:
1. I am pretty much a newbie to actually using swords (I used to do stick fighting, where you don't need to align a edge or anything), and often hit with the blade angled funny.
2. My sword is actually a sword-like-object, and none too sharp. I hit it with file and whetstone, but it is still rather dull.


I look back and I guess I'm getting a little off-topic. Less "bragging", more question-answering now. Big Grin

Something I didn't see mentioned as a target, but I've heard of here and there, is a hanging piece of paper. I imagine a tip cut in the middle or thereabouts wouldn't be difficult at all, but cutting right to the edge might be hard to do.

I've also heard of tires being a popular test medium, though rather hard to actually cut through. I imagine some little kid crying to mom about daddy lopping up their swing now...

Another option might be a pell. I believe doing a forum or Google search will find plenty of how-tos on making one. Of course, a pell is not so much for cutting through, but for practicing technique on a durable target that provides the kind of learning you can only get from actually hitting something solid. I've been thinking of making one by pouring concrete into a bucket with a log in it, so as to make it portable. Not sure what to wrap the wood in, since a big old log is one of those things most people don't recommend hitting.
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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar, 2009 12:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

... ere ya go,

introducing Mr Tameshigiri!

http://www.tozandoshop.com/Mr_Tameshigiri_Bod...7-ixdk.htm

Cheers


Jason
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Ben C.





Joined: 01 Dec 2006

Posts: 65

PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar, 2009 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua,

may I ask what you are using for your cutting tests? I was just wondering because Japan has very strict sword ownership laws so I was under the impression that only people with a collectors license could have a proper katana. I've never really known any clubs that had access to real swords.

Do you by any chance belong to an akido or iaido club? If so there is a good chance that the blades you are using are iaito which are imitation swords made from aluminium alloy that passes Japanese legal requirements. They are generally only used for form practice and are usually too fragile to handle contact so I'd be very careful about doing cutting tests with one. I don't know if you are in the same situation but a number of my friends owned and were using expensive iaito without realising that they weren't real swords and were not not strong enough for contact.
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Josh Watson





Joined: 20 Dec 2008

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PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar, 2009 2:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While I have little experience cutting I will offer some advice relating to materials. Corrugated cardboard such as what is used in shipping boxes and the like is an acid pulp product. This means that it will leave an acidic residue on anything that cuts through it and even touches it. The residue is very mild and does little more than dry out skin, but it has a serious effect on the edge of cutting implements if it is not cleaned off immediately. Milk cartons and the like are fine, as they are processed differently, but any brown unfinished cardboard will present this difficulty.
The first step to becoming wise is to know that you know nothing.
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