Learn tameshigiri, the art of test cutting with a Japanese sword, at Toyama Ryu Bizenkai's dojo in Machida, Tokyo. Though this experience is beginner-friendly, it offers you the chance to learn more specialized cutting techniques and to test-cut rolled tatami mats of different thicknesses: half a roll, one roll, a futomaki (two rolls), or yokonarabi (two mats lined up vertically, side-by-side).
We at Toyama Ryu Bizenkai are a dojo providing a variety of iai swordsmanship experiences: tameshigiri test cutting, dressing up in samurai armor, and more. For travelers looking for a samurai experience, look no further! Tameshigiri is the art of test cutting with a Japanese sword. In the past, it was used to test the quality of a sword, but today, it is practiced as a martial art — a way of testing one's swordsmanship. Our tameshigiri (test cutting) activity is beginner-friendly, so don't worry about lack of prior experience; we will guide you with attention and care. At the same time, we will also teach you some techniques that are only taught to more advanced practitioners in other dojos, making this a unique and specialized experience that beginner-level and repeat guests alike will enjoy. First, you'll change into a keikogi, a traditional training uniform. After a lecture on Japanese swords and swordsmanship, you'll start with a blunt, wooden practice sword, which we will teach you how to handle and swing. Next, it's time to learn about tameshigiri. Esentially, there are only three types of cuts: kesagiri (downward diagonal cut), gyaku-kesagiri (upward diagonal cut), and suiheigiri Even taking into account the opposite direction, there are only six types of tameshigiri cuts — various techniques are comprised of combinations of these. We will focus on migi-kesagiri (right-side downward diagonal cut), the most basic cut. With each participant receiving four tatami rolls, start by cutting a half roll to check the hasuji (the blade's angle), then an entire roll. For your third and fourth roll, challenge yourself with more advanced cuts. Cut them either as futomaki (two rolls) or yokonarabi (two tatami lined up vertically, side by side). Under the watchful guidance of a good instructor, these specialized cuts are doable even by beginners. The most important thing to keep in mind is the blade angle. As long as it's correct, you'll be able to make these cuts without much difficulty. However, if the blade angle is even slightly out of alignment, you won't be able to successfully cut through the tatami mats. Most beginner-level tameshigiri experiences at other dojos do not include futomaki and yokonarabi cutting, so take the rare opportunity to learn either of these techniques at our dojo!