Tameshigiri
by Raju Thakrar [aka Sakura-san]

"Tameshigiri" is the action of using a sword to cut objects. The term "tameshigiri" is composed of "tamesu", which in Japanese means "try out", and "giri", which means "cut".

Iaido is the only martial art where one practices with a sword in order to "polish" one's spirit and heart, or, more specifically, one's "kokoro".

Tameshigiri is forbidden by the Zen Nihon Iaido Renmei, the only specialist iaido organization in Japan.

There are several reasons for not doing tameshigiri.

Firstly, one has to consider that the Japanese sword is not a "tool", irrespective of whether the blade is live or not. In Japan, the Japanese sword has held a very important, and sometimes mystical, position in society. It is still one of the 3 treasures of the Imperial family, along with the mirror and orb. Thus, a sword is thought to have sacred properties. Taking this into consideration, the act of using a sword to cut something is akin to someone using a Catholic cross to bash a tree.

Furthermore, swordsmiths put their heart and soul into making Japanese swords great works of art. Therefore, using a sword to cut something is a most disrespectful act towards the swordsmith and the sword, which samurai thought of as their soul.
Etiquette towards the sword requires one to treat it with the greatest respect at all times. This is why one should never step over a sword, or touch the blade with one's hands.

A note from John Pritchard Sensei: This article was made public in November 2001. It has been circulated in the Canadian Iaido Association email list. At Sakura-san's request, I have modified spelling and grammar for our target audience; thus, any mistakes that occur are mine [JRP].


List of Essays

The Importance of Getting Along
by Raju Thakrar [aka Sakura-san]

Tameshigiri
by Raju Thakrar [aka Sakura-san]

Sword Maintenance Tips
by Esaka Sensei Hanshi 10th Dan via Ted Davis Sensei

Esaka Seigen
by Raju Thakrar [aka Sakura-san]