Different cutting set-ups

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Linda Heenan
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Different cutting set-ups

Post by Linda Heenan » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:06 am

Lately we've been setting up for cutting in a different way each time. Last week we used the regular cutting stand and different strengths of water filled bottles.

This week each group has been doing their basic cuts to water filled bottles hung from a branch with string. We find it possible to do more cuts this way. Tiao and Duo both become good cuts on a suspended target. Also, it takes away the fear of cutting the stand, so students relax more.

Next week we'll be cutting branches. Then we'll try bamboo, meat, meat wrapped in T shirt material, fruit, and whatever else we can think of. The variety brings different experiences with it and helps us improve our basic cuts as well as the reality of how they are used. We also often use a plastic shopping bag stuffed with other plastic shopping bags for practising thrusts - Ci, Zha and Dian. The kids like practising thrusts on air filled water balloons and scoring team points according to which colour they have randomly pulled out of a bag.

I think that before long, we'll do some moving cuts using the stepping skills we've been practising while performing the cut.

What other ideas do people have?
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Re: Different cutting set-ups

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:43 pm

Linda Heenan wrote:Lately we've been setting up for cutting in a different way each time.... we'll try bamboo, meat, meat wrapped in T shirt material, fruit...
Be careful when cutting a lot of fruit as it often makes the ground slippery...

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Re: Different cutting set-ups

Post by Linda Heenan » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:24 pm

Thanks for that advice, Laoshi. We haven't tried it yet so it's good to be forewarned. Now we can work out a way to do it that moves to different areas after a few cuts. I have a big backyard, so that's possible. Maybe we could make a string cradle for each one and suspend them from a lot of different trees. I try to keep cutting sessions to small groups these days, so that could work well.
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Re: Different cutting set-ups

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:15 am

Last week Matt came over and we did some branch cutting. We used whatever was available and needed a trim around my backyard - about five different types of branches. We noticed they respond better to angled cuts than horizontal ones. The dao went through much more easily than the jian. That's probably because we haven't done a lot of branch cutting yet and the jian needs better precision to get the cut correct.

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This week, Matt brought over a box of rock melons. We decided the best way to handle them was to tie them in a plastic bag and hang them from a tree.

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Re: Different cutting set-ups

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:39 am

This is what happens to a rockmelon when you use Tiao on it.

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We cleaned the swords with meths and then wiped that off them first because we wanted to save a couple of the less damaged rockmelons to eat with ice cream afterwards. We had to keep an eye on the swords for rust. Fruit is very sticky. It actually took more than meths to get the gunk off them afterwards. I did something I've never done before and scrubbed them under warm running water. Then I dried them straight away and oiled them well.

All sorts of cuts can be used on suspended fruit. The plastic bag made very little difference to cutting through. Next week we're going to wrap things in T shirts to see how much difference that makes.

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We were careful to watch for slippery ground, as Laoshi said. Larger pieces of rockmelon were put aside for the final bit of fun. Sorry, the batteries fell out of the camera and we gave up on photos at that point, but I'll describe it down below.

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The final exercise was throwing rockmelon slices at each other and cutting them through. I have rockmelon in my hair and Matt has it all over his shirt. I discovered that if you just stand there with the sword in the way, the fruit will slice through. I also discovered that is a good way to get smacked in the face with sticky melon. Matt discovered the same thing and then learnt that you have to turn your waist at the same time as you cut and keep your eye on the target. I'm a good shot. I was pitcher for my school softball team, and I was aiming at his face. He's a good shot too - learned through cricket training. We made inferences about what might happen if you took the head of an enemy coming towards you on horseback, and forgot to turn out of the way.....

It was probably the most fun we've ever had cutting and we did actually learn some very useful principles. I would recommend you add fruit to your cutting program, if only to experience the need for accuracy, cutting and turning in the same moment.
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Re: Different types of protective clothing

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Dec 06, 2009 2:05 am

This week we experimented with some different types of clothing or protection people may have been wearing. We wrapped cotton material, layered newspaper and thick leather over our bottle victims and cut at them with a jian and a dao.

Cotton was first. Everything went through one layer of T shirt material. Everything went through two layers. The jian was stopped at four layers with a cut but not with a thrust. The dao tore through four layers of T shirt material and left a jagged tear right through the bottle.

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So ... when you are making your gambesons make sure they are very thick. A few layers of material will not protect you.
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Re: Different cutting set-ups

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Dec 06, 2009 2:13 am

Next we wrapped our bottle people in layers of newspaper. We used seven layers. The dao cut through this as if it wasn't there. All it did was make the cut more jagged. The jian was able to thrust through it easily but not cut as well as the dao.

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I suppose we could have tried more layers but I didn't want to keep cutting paper. It tends to dull the edge. and let's think about this for a moment. I've seen Laoshi testing the jian we used today by sticking it into a tree in Sydney. Paper is just a soft tree. It would have to be very strong to protect you from a jian thrust. In fact, I wouldn't be trusting a whole telephone book. As for the dao - the paper may as well not have been there.
Last edited by Linda Heenan on Sun Dec 06, 2009 2:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Different cutting set-ups

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Dec 06, 2009 2:19 am

Finally we used leather. This was very thick leather but it was not hardened. The dao made an impressive cut in it that did not go all the way through. The jian made a tiny chip, even with a strong thrust.

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So, if I had my choice of easily found protection, I'd be using the leather. Normal thickness such as we use on shoes would not be strong enough. A dao would go straight through it. Our leather was about half a centimetre thick and both sowrds failed to get through it.
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Re: Different cutting set-ups

Post by Tashi James » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:33 pm

It would be good to compare the cuts made on these materials with similar cuts on the same materials by students with various levels of experience.

Additionally, you may like to test a suspended hot-water bottle.
"There is nothing that does not become easier through familiarity" (Santideva).

"We become what we do repeatedly. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit" (Aristotle).

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