Nik wrote:I think, the first prerequisite is to train AT ALL. I don't even want to know how many "practitioners", of sword or other arts, were in fact just at times playing in the garden for a couple of minutes, instead of training hours every day. I see kind of a similar deterioration of skills and shape in myself like I saw on other "players" on video, and I am 10 years out of practice meanwhile.
Nik, The main point of this article was the fact that most of these people who couldn't cut, and were fumbling and hitting the floor were the Masters and Instructors of Japanese arts doing it all their lives. The point in fact was that they trained, and did nothing but train.. And this left them incapable of "doing". Their training was not preparation for real activity.
My personal opinion is that its far more risky and damaging to train for years without doing test cutting.. I feel that from Day 1 that you pick up a sword you should be learning forms, and cutting at the same time. the 2 things are building up in harmony. reading the manual to drive a car does not in anyway prepare you for actually driving that car.. The moment you put a person in a car to learn, you have to accept that they can crash and die a moment later. What stops this happening is the fact that we have a skilled instructor, and a willing listener in the car at the same time.. The reality is that you only need 5 times instruction before you spend the rest of your life developing you skill as a driver ON YOUR OWN.. We do not have that many deaths on the road because of learners.. but its not unheard of.. That doesn't mean coddling them more is a good answer. it is not Training that keeps people alive on roads as beginners.. it is rules that they must adhere to while weilding the deadliest weapon (Car) that keeps them and everyone alive.
I've shot guns, rifles, olypic air pistol, Archery, swords, cars.. you name it.. all can kill you in a moment if you are not careful. All these skills are good if you have a trainer, but its not a pre-requisite.
What I got out of this article is that while training is a crucial milestone.. Only Doing creates a skill.. it is important to create a safe environment, but you must CUT to become a good cutter.. I dont walk around my garden worried about saftey and spend hours training to use my 15" long machete.. I walk into the bush and I cut a trail.
How do you see using a sword as any different from using a 17-20" machete, which is something people do day in and day out. The reason they dont get hurt is because normally their father (or someone) explains the basic logical safety of the blade, and its technique, then the doing of the act is what makes you good at it. No matter how long you practise forms and Kata, and play safe.. Experience is the only lesson that will make you ready.
This is the lesson I gained from reading that. if Sensei of 20+ years training in sword in the 1980's could barely even cut a single tatami without any particular skill then it demonstrates fully to me the disadvantage of that type of training for real warfare and historical cutting.
In the old days I daresay life was less precious, and the accidents that happens in training was the method of weeding out the people that might help loose the battle..
I'd go back again to the simple fact that in WW1 and WW2 conscripted people where handed a gun, and some ammo and shown what to point and shoot at.. They were not provided hours of training. I would say in the old days the same happened.. People probably got a good day of solid instruction on the sword and then were pushed into the field. Experience is a fast way to learn.
So I'd go back to the question.. How do people here prepare mentally and orientate themselves towards improving their skill in true swordsman ship. As Obata said in the article.. Accidents happen because they are not really accidents but innatenive or illogical structure.
When you are training alone.. what do you do to make sure you do not have an accident.. I disagree that Donning sheetloads of armour and protective safety gear is the answer.. infact.. I completely disagree that weilding a sword is any less safe than going into the bush with a machete, or taking out a knife to use.. I've cut myself more in the kitchen than swinging a 40" blade.. its all about attention to detail and focus.
So I have to say TRAINING AT ALL is important.. but the Cutting is the training.. Sitting behind the wheel of a car is not driving, and swinging a sword without a target and goal is not swordsmanship. That is what I gained from the article.