Cutting Tatami

This Forum is a place for students of swordsmanship to ask advice from moderators Paul Champagne & Scott M. Rodell on how to practice test cutting in a manner consistent with how swords were historically used in combat. Readers use this Forum at their own risk.

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Linda Heenan
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Re: Cutting Tatami

Post by Linda Heenan » Sat Sep 25, 2010 4:12 am

By the time we had finished training in emptyhand and sword forms, the mats had dried out quite a bit. This increased the challenge. Here are the swords we used:

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We rolled a couple of mats and set up the first one on a stand.

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We suspended the second one from a tree for a bit of variety.

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After a bit of practise, taking turns with the first mat, some of the cuts were cleaner. Cutting mats is a new challenge and it doesn't matter how good you are with bottles, branches and fruit - it's a fresh learning curve.

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Linda Heenan
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Re: Cutting Tatami

Post by Linda Heenan » Sat Sep 25, 2010 4:28 am

It is easier to cut a suspended mat. Even though there is more give, the cuts have less problem going straight through.

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We Aussies are beginners at cutting tatami. We are fortunate that Ozitatami has shown up in the country. The mats are really high quality but well worth the experience. Since we took so long getting to the mats, I still have two that need resoaking. In another week or so, I'll try this again. Then, I'll be ordering and cutting mats several times a year. It's nice to have a new challenge and only costs about as much as a trip to the movies. It's just over $40 for 5 mats plus postage within Australia http://www.ozitatami.com.au/index.htm

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Nik
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Re: Cutting Tatami

Post by Nik » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:06 am

How much cash did you destroy that way ?

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KyleyHarris
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Re: Cutting Tatami

Post by KyleyHarris » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:41 pm

Nik wrote:How much cash did you destroy that way ?
interesting turn of phrase :)

I looked at the website that Linda received them from. a 5 pack is 37.50Australian dollars..

the problem is that shipping to NZ might double that cost, so I cant justify it yet. perhaps one of the Japanese schools might bulk order.

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Linda Heenan
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Re: Cutting Tatami

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Sep 26, 2010 4:53 pm

Fortunately for me, these mats were a gift from the company because I promote his product on my site. Now I'll write a page on cutting tatami as well. It's good for his business and a product I'm really happy to promote. Several times a year, I intend to spend the $37.50 plus almost $10 in postage to order some for my own practise. If I get good enough to help others train at this level, they can buy a mat or two each and we'll do a combined order. As I said, if two of you share 5 mats, it's less than the cost of a movie with popcorn and coke, so why not? We didn't cut through them quickly either. There is the soaking and draining process. Then you prepare the targets. Each cut is with purpose and analysed for results. There are the photos and writing on a forum like this to share the results where most people have never tried it yet. This takes much longer than the movie and snacks :D Seriously good fun for what I can earn in less than an hour of work. That's great value.
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Nik
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Re: Cutting Tatami

Post by Nik » Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:46 am

I still support the suggestion mentioned above and start cutting at the very top of the mat, instead of right through the middle. ;)

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Linda Heenan
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Re: Cutting Tatami

Post by Linda Heenan » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:11 pm

In order to cut from the very top of the mat, you need a fairly stiff support through the centre. We used quite thick apple branches but the mat still bent in a curve and had to be straightened after higher cuts. There was no such problem after suspending it from a tree. I think a dowel through the centre might snap on the higher cuts. Thick bamboo is likely to keep the shape but we don't have any in my area. Also, we didn't sharpen the swords before the cutting. A very sharp sword would make it very easy but then, where is the upgrade in practise? At least there are still plenty of things to try for the future.
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Scott M. Rodell
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Re: Cutting Tatami

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:49 am

Linda Heenan wrote:... We do not have bamboo, so I used branches off a fruit tree. One long mat was rolled around the branch...
I'm sure in the old days, back in China, they also used whatever was on hand (they sure didn't have internet ordered rice mats). As for green branches, we've used then in Estonia, where there is also no bamboo, quite a few times. Overall, branches that are 1 to 1.5" in diameter are kind of a bore for cutting. Unlike bamboo of 2"+ diameter, they don't give a feeling of cutting thru something, that is, you are thru them so fast they hardly test your skill. However, they should work well as cores for your mats.

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Re: Cutting Tatami

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:53 am

Linda Heenan wrote:In order to cut from the very top of the mat, you need a fairly stiff support through the centre...
You can get thru a single mat with no core if your sword is moving fast enough... But if you are using a core, it has to be strong enough not to break, because since the mat won't flex much at all when ti has a core, all the stress is taken at the base of the stalk that makes up the core.

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