Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Katana Training

Now, I know this is going to seem like common sense, but I am going to write briefly about properly training yourself to use a sharp Katana. This is for some of our newer students, especially as we approach summer when we head outdoors for Samurai Summers.

So, the first step is do not use a sharp Katana!

For obvious reasons you can harm yourself very quickly, like slicing off a thumb or toe.

The proper sequence in learning how to safely handle a Katana is to start with a Bokken, or Wooden Sword. You can then safely practice drawing, cutting and resheathing the sword. No fingers or toes are lost. Once you feel comfortable and become skilled at using the Bokken it is time for the next step.

Next, is to get yourself a dull Katana. An inexpensive demo model that you can feel safe in swinging around. Just make sure the handle and blade are properly fastened. You don't want the blade slipping out of the handle. This step allows you to get the 'feel' of swinging a blade and very importantly sheathing it. Sheathing a blade can cause more problems, like losing a thumb, than drawing or cutting.

Once you feel skilled at this level, then and only then should you use a live blade....and then be under supervision of someone who knows what they are doing. This is definitely a time not to let your mind wander into Samurai fantasy time. It is imperative you stay focused and be attentive to what you are doing. If you decided to do some cutting with this blade, again, make sure you have a full tang and the handle is properly attached. Also make sure your blade is sharp. If it isn't sharp and you try cutting you can damage the blade and in worst case scenario break the blade and harm yourself or someone else.

All training, from Bokken to Live Blade, should be conducted under the watchful eye of someone who is trained. You then learn the proper blade etiquette, techniques and skills that will make your Katana training enjoyable and most importantly, safe. Remember, these are all weapons, not toys.

Hands palm to palm,


  1. I remember my old Sensei showed me a 400 year old Katana he had in his house.
    We trained with Bokkens, Shinai, and I had taken steps to training with live blades, so holding this thing was a delightful ritual for me.
    Respect the blade and it will respect you.

    You could see the dings all along the edge of the blade from whatever it had been involved in over 4 centuries.
    More importantly, you could FEEL those dings; it had a spirit, gave off a tone, IT WANTED TO CUT SOMETHING EVEN UNSHEATHING IT A COUPLE INCHES!

    It was a great and humbling experience. Even working with live blades, nothing comes close to a blade of 400 or so years. The spirit is totally different and great care and caution must be exercised.

  2. Wonderful advice. Thanks for sharing your story about the 400 year old blade...I'm jealous.

  3. yes every blade has its own personality, usually from it's owner. had I ever drawn not to mention touched a blade that didn't belong to me my Sensei would have sent me packing as quickly as he did many other students.
    you must bond with your blades, and then you can become one with it.

  4. Thanks Anon...I agree. The blade is an intimate part of the owner, if not more intimate than the privates...keep your hands off! :)