What is Nakamura Ryu Battodo?
 by David Cottle, ni-dan

Nakamura Ryu Battodo is a style of Japanese martial art sword techniques conceived of and created by Nakamura Taizaburo. Nakamura, who was born in 1912, was admitted to attend the Toyama Military Academy when he was 21, and inevitably qualified as an instructor of martial art sword combat. After the Second World War, during which Nakamura was a military kenjutsu instructor, he developed his unique style of battodo based on eight basic strokes of Japanese calligraphy combine with certain principles abstracted from his teaching of Toyama Ryu Battodo.

Nakamura style embodies eight specific cuts and eight defensive kamae (stances) incorporating the basic principle of bringing the sword to an immediate, controlled halt after a cut (tome), whilst swiftly moving the blade in a folding technique to prepare for the next opponent or cut. This controlled cut and folding technique is composed of precise steps that best employ the sword's kinetic energy (momentum/potential energy) to maximize efficiency of moving from the initial cut into the next combative posture.

The katas (combinations of cuts and foot steps) and style evolved around the principle of 'one cut one kill', by putting all of the energy into one controlled powerful cut,or a kata consisting of a battodo (one-handed starting cut), then followed up by a powerful two-handed finishing cut. Nakamura found during his research that many other styles did not utilize the kesagiri (downward diagonal cut), a cut he considered to be most practical and powerful. So he incorporated kesagiri as a major component of his style.

Nakamura Ryu Battodo is also known as a 'battlefield style' making use of full outreached cuts for the absolute most effective use of the blade's length, whereas some other styles cut close to the body for use in confined spaces, such as indoors.

All of these principles directly relate to practical demonstration of the basic techniques of tenouchi (proper tsuka grip), wide, long, stretching and reaching cuts, power and tome which results in a sharp tachi kaze (whistling through the air), with a katana or iaito blade that has a bohi (groove along the length of the blade).

Nakamura Ryu Battodo calls for fully controlled actions and motions in all aspects, such as sword control, movements and discipline. Each cut ends in a tome (sharp stopping point) without swinging through, so that a kata is simply a sequence of single cuts with specific footstep changes, changes in direction, cutting direction, and number of opponents. Precise timing is required not only for best judgment of distance from the opponent or opponents, but also so that the sword is in the correct cutting position by the time the opponent is reached. Fluidity is an other crucial component, and though the distinct stopping points of tome are important, they must combined for smooth movement. Hence, there should be no pause or hesitation, based on being in a battle field scenario where there would not be time to find or assess a perfect position, as no opponent will wait and a second opponent would initiate immediate attack right after the first opponent. With correct technique, training and practice, it becomes second nature for a student of Nakamura Ryu Battodo, to assess, solve and execute in any battlefield scenario with skill and accuracy.

Why is tameshigiri such an importantpart of Nakamura Ryu Battodo?
by Paul Marlow, ni-dan

Tameshigiri is such an important part of Nakamura Ryu Battodo as it is the practical demonstration of all the essential techniques that are taught at even the most basic level. Factors such as tenouchi directly affect the cutting and attack angle of the blade, resulting in a clean 'crisp' cut with the target falling or traveling a very small distance.

If the angle is wrong, usually because of a poor tenouchi, then the target flies off as it is pushed aside by the misaligned angle. This will also cause 'scooping' and 'thumping' of the target.

Due to the higher density of cutting Tatami-omote, if basic techniques are incorrect or need improvement, cut will be incomplete, or if using a folded katana blade, the blade may possibly bend.

At all times there must be a clear demonstration of proper sword control, and precise timing with full power and tip speed at the right point to cut the target whilst showing absolute sword control to be able to stop the katana at exactly the correct height and angle from the target.

It is also important to be the correct distance away from the target so the cut is made with the end quarter of the blade. A student should commence tameshigiri threes teps away from the target so that by the time the third step is taken, the student is at the correct cutting distance from the target. It is a poor technique to have to check the distance from the target using the katana blade, adjust distance and then cut. A student must be able to judge the distance and alter steps sizes accordingly. Tameshigiri is a practical 'test' cutting to simulate real battlefield scenario with an opponent (who won't wait for distance measuring).

There is the combination of getting the timing correct so that the rear foot slides away from the target just as the cut is being made into the target to create the slicing action, while maintaining the left hand in the centre of the body and using the power of the hips. It is the hips and sliding action that performs the cut, not a brute-force swing like a baseball bat.

With correct technique and principles a student should be able to cut any target from the smallest to the largest.

Timing is critical and the student should always exercise precise actions, not only in sword control but movements and discipline, never swinging through, but stopping at the end of each cut with tome. Much practice is required to make quick successive cuts, as there is always a minute tome between each cut, but fluidity is maintained along the basic principles of Nakamura Ryu Battodo.

Stepping and preparing the blade for the cuts is also critical. There may be multiple targets to cut therefore the stepping and timing sequence must be precise for not only judge the distance from the target, but so that the sword will be in the correct cutting position by the time each target is reached. It is up to the student to judge the situation and have all basic techniques and principles as automatic and second nature.

The tameshigiri is such an important part of Nakamura Ryu Battodo (which is a battlefield style) because it is a practical demonstration of the technique and skills that would be required on the battlefield . With the proper technique, if a student is performing a plain kata or cutting a wara, there shouldreally be little or no difference.

Why is tameshigiri such an importantpart of Nakamura Ryu Battodo?
by Gavin Volpato, sho-dan

Tameshigiri is the Japanese art of test-cutting. Originally intended to test the quality of blades, in modern practice it is used to test the quality of the swordsman's skills/abilities. It is such an important part of Nakamura Ryu Battodo as it incorporates all the elements of cutting and puts it into practice. It allows one to test and analyse his/her abilities as if certain elements are lacking the cut will not be true.

Proper sword grip (tenouchi), tome, stance, foot work, cutting angle and technique, are all essential parts of cutting that need to work simultaneously in order to deliver clean, powerful cuts.

There are various targets that may be cut including beach mats, tatami omote and bamboo. Cutting different targets test different skills. Cutting beach mats is a good way to test you have the basic technique and sword angle. Where as cutting tatami omote also tests power and control. To be able to cut tatami omote you need to incorporate a solid stance, good grip, speed,power, and the ability to stop the blade after cutting through the target (tome).

Distance is tested with the goal of cutting using the monouchi. Footwork and stepping is also tested on approaching the target. Ideally a swordsman should eventually be able to cut from any starting position.

In tameshigiri there are many ways of cutting targets that are used. One such way is suihei-giri, which is a horizontal cut. Also, setting up multiple targets and flowing between them smoothly is a good way to expand on single target cutting for more experience, as it develops distance and accuracy.

In conclusion, tameshigiri is a vital part of Nakamura Ryu Battodo as it allows the swordsman to identify faults in his technique and develop a better sense of timing, distance, speed, proper grip, footwork, weight-shifting etcetera.That being said, tameshigiri is only a singular part of ones training. Kata, strength training, kumitachi and others types are all also very important. Faults identified through the practice of tameshigiri can be worked on at other times and then can be retested the next time tameshigiri is performed.

How does tenouchi affect cutting atarget and why?
by Greg McEwan, sho-dan

To determine the effect of tenouchi on the cutting procedure, we must first define the word. The Japanese word tenouchi can be broken down into three parts. Te - meaning hand,no - meaning of and uchi - meaning inside. So we translate tenouchi as 'inside of the hand' or more commonly, grip.

Does how we grip the sword matter in terms of cutting a target and if so, why? Any person can pick up a sword and swing it at a target resulting in an adequate cut without any training or knowledge of correct technique. This would imply on the surface that grip is not important in the ability to cut a target. However, the purpose of training in Nakamura Ryu Battodo is not simply to cut, but to cut accurately and consistently under many different conditions. We find that without good tenouchi, accuracy and consistency are impossible to maintain. This is due to a number of reasons.

There are two significant forms of correct tenouchi in Nakamura Ryu Battodo. The first is when in one of the eight preparatory stances or Happo no kamae. The most common stance is chudan no kamae where the hands are placed over the tsuka with the right hand at the tsuba and the left hand below it. If one forms a 'V' with the thumb and index finger of each hand, the tsuka should run through the point of each 'V'. The little and ring fingers of the left hand should curl around the tsuka at the kashira holdingit firmly with the other fingers of each hand curled around, but holding lightly though not loosely. In this relaxed position, the wrists are very slightly to the sides of the tsuka, allowing for a secure grip but also easy movement of the sword in any required direction. This technique is basically unchanged for any of the stances except for slight allowances due to the limits of the human body. The position of the hands over the sword are extremely important as this imparts the correct blade position from which any cut will proceed. If the blade position is incorrect in the beginning, the cut which follows will also be incorrect and most likely doomed to failure. Mastering tenouchi at this stage allows one to naturally bring the sword into an repeatably accurate position from which a cut can commence.

This brings us to the second form of tenouchi. This form occurs during the cut and is essential for completing it with accuracy. Initially the sword is held in the first form of tenouchi in the ready position. For example, in Jodan no gamae if the cut to be performed is kesagiri. The hands are held close to the body at this point. At the commencement of the cut, the sword tip or kissaki is accelerated outward and the arms arms are extended to form an arc from which the straight section of the cut which passes through the target can be made. It is at the point where the arms reach their full extension that we change tenouchi from the first relaxed form to the second. At this stage we rotate our wrists inward so that they are now directly over the tsuka and we form a tight grip with all fingers of both hands. The purpose of this is twofold. Firstly it allows a much more secure grip on the sword to absorb any impact from the target and thus reduce the possibility of letting go of the weapon due to an unexpected shock. Secondly it allows the sword and arms to form a rigid connection which stabilises the path of the cut. If the sword is held too loosely at this point, the blade angle can deviate from it's initial position causing the sword to slap the target rather than cut it. Also the sword can vary in it's trajectory causing the accuracy of the cut to be difficult to maintain.

A repeatedly successful cut depends on every aspect of it being carried out with precision. If the basics on which the cut is built are not well performed, we cannot expect that the cut itself will be well performed either. As proper tenouchi is essential both at the beginning and also during the cut, it becomes obvious that it is a vital part of accurate cutting.

What Makes Nakamura Ryu, NakamuraRyu?
by Ben Chow, sho-dan

In recent decades interest in teaching, learning and training in budo (Japanese martial arts) has increased spectacularly. Not only in the unarmed arena in arts such as karate and judo but also in the use of weaponry, of which theJ apanese sword is arguably the most recognised and renowned. For this reason interest in sports like kendo and arts such as iaido and koryu styles which teach the katana have spread internationally. However, with such a diverse range of styles one is left asking what differences exist between them? What differentiates Nakamura Ryu Batto-do Happogiri To-ho (Nakamura Ryu) from Kendo or Iaido? The following figure offers a useful overview of where various styles stand:

Most significant is Nakamura Ryu'sf ocus on the practical application of the katana. In exploring the practicality of the style, attention will be given to several distinguishing features, namely the development and inclusion of Nakamura Ryu Happogiri, Happo no gamae, emphasis on tameshigiri, and chiburi and noto.

Nakamura Ryu was founded by NakamuraTaizaburo (1912-2003) in 1952 following his return to Japan after the conclusion of World War II. During his time in China, Nakamura sensei was inspired by the ei character in Chinese calligraphy composed of eight brush strokes which followed the trajectory of the sword. He then progressed to develop a logical system of swordsmanship omitting ineffective techniques found in other styles of which Happo Giri is apart. Deceptively simple, Nakamura Happogiri enables a student to practice the eight cuts of the sword, of which all other cuts are variations. Most notable is the inclusion of the kesagiri (left/rightdownward diagonal cuts) which Nakamura sensei realised was not employed by many Koryu schools, contending that many forms were performed out of tradition and taught in a vacuum lacking any real application. This became apparent after witnessing the ineffectiveness of vertical downward cuts on the battlefield, particularly on steel helmets, whereas kesagiri not only aims for the vulnerable and often unprotected collarbone of the opponent but is also the most natural cut for a swordsman. For this reason it can be seen that Nakamura Ryu Batto-do is first and foremost a style focused on the logical and practical use of the katana.

In addition to Happogiri Nakamurasensei also introduced Happo no Gamae, the eight postures. Many schools employ only five stances but Nakamura sensei sensed that balance was lacking, leaving a defensive gap particularly on the left side. Consequently, Nakamura sensei added left hasso, left waki and right jodan gamae. At this point it is worth mentioning that he incorporated eight defensive techniques to compliment the eight cutting methods, eight stances, and eight notos, completing his logical and systematic style. The practicality of Nakamura Ryu is displayed most prominently however in its emphasis on tameshigiri and in the application of wide cuts which will now be discussed.

According to Nakamura sensei, who had extensive experience in test cutting, irrespective of the style in which you train whether it be Iaido or Kendo, unless you cut with a real sword you will never experience true sword technique and thus Nakamura Ryu places a heavy emphasis on tameshigiri. Differentiating itself from many koryu styles which do not discuss cutting techniques such as the sword's angle of attack and the arc along which the blade travels, Nakamura sensei emphasised the importance this plays in swordsmanship. Several important lessons in tameshigiri which are emphasised in Nakamura Ryu include the application of wide cuts which are not drop cuts, and tome. Being an open battlefield attack style, Nakamura Ryu aims to achieve maximum distance when attacking anopponent. This not only provides the obvious reach advantage, but it also results in two other advantages being increased cutting ability due to the faster tip speed, and, the increased difficulty for anopponent to disarm or launch an attack as the tip of the sword leads rather than the hands. Moreover, Nakamura Ryu emphasises cutting from jodan and trains students not to allow the tip to dip past the head. This gives a first strike advantage as they do not require the additional preparation time. Tome is vital in tameshigiri and swordsmanship and forms part of the foundation upon which Nakamurasensei based his style, saying, "My system is based on studies of how to bring the sword blade to a halt following a cut, how to parry, and how to progress to the next combative posture by utilizing the sword's kinetic energy." It not only trains sword control but also ensures a true, clean cut as the trajectory and angle is not disturbed. With such heavy emphasis on tameshigiri leading to the effective use of the Japanese sword, Nakamura Ryu is clearly concerned with the practical and realistic application of the style's teaching.

Finally, the chiburi and noto of Nakamura Ryu Batto-do are distinctly different from many Koryu styles. These old school styles aim to clean debris from the blade through the centrifugal force created by their circular chiburi which ends abruptly. Nakamura sensei observed that it is impossible to remove blood, flesh and debris from a blade with such a motion with the only sure method for cleaning being the wiping of the sword with a cloth or other material. Thus the Nakamura Ryu and Toyama Ryu noto is distinguished from many styles as the chiburi is not performed for the purpose of cleaning the blade but rather as an en-garde position which may be converted to a thrust if need be, after which the noto is performed in an efficient and minimalistic manoeuvre. While the chiburi may not be as aesthetically pleasing as koryu the emphasis is again on practicality, not theatrics.

While Nakamura Ryu is simplistic compared to the ornate kata of other styles and less renowned than kendo, the system founded by Nakamura sensei should not be underestimated nor should people be misled into thinking that a direct correlation exists between complexity, aestheticism or popularity and practicality. It is my hope that from the brief discussion you have been given a glimpse into what differentiates Nakamura Ryu from other styles which teach the use of the JapaneseSword: simple effectiveness.

Tameshigiri as part of theJapanese swordsmanship style of Nakamura Ryo Battodo.
by John Volpato, sho-dan

Tameshigiri literally translates as test cutting. Popularised in the Edo (1603-1868) period centuries ago, a swords capability was tested by using skilled swordsmen performing particular cutting techniques on helmets, cadavers or at times on less fortunate condemned criminals. The results of such testing may even have been inscribed on the sword tang.

Nowadays, the art of sword defense and attack helps maintain a somber connection to its former practice and tradition. Those were more brutal times where fighting and battles were part of life and your social status could make you vulnerable to life threatening situations. Materials that can now be used as cutting targets include wara (rice straw), goza (the top layer of tatami mats), bamboo, and thin steel sheets. One can attain a real sense of satisfaction, by the control and safe use of the sword. Any sword could easily cause serious injury or fatality without the necessary respect and care in its handling. This is taught as part of the curriculum.

The modern Nakamura Ryu Battodo style follows principally an open field battle situation. The kata are performed from upright positions with wide arm extension movements for all the main cutting techniques.

Sensei Hans Fricke recounts NakamuraTaizaburo (1912-2003, hanshi 10th dan,) opinion, 'If your cutting technique is poor then the katas become pointless, nomatter how good they are executed'.That is why nowadays the tameshigiri practice has become more about the skill of the swordsman than that of testing the blade. In Nakamura developed style,the techniques used for sword cutting follow the kata use of wide extension of arm and sword. There is also additional attention given to foot work (example, sliding foot diagonally back), hip-action and co-ordination of sword and body movement, to name a few of the attributes. Upon execution of the cut, there should be a drivingf orce of commitment when one cuts. Each cut is executed with as much intent as the previous one, each beginning afresh. The intent used to be one of a morbid approach, 'one cut, one kill'.

Training in cutting aims to harness control and accuracy through technique developed from our kata.There are a range of cuts which include the kirioshi vertical cut, the kesa cuts, generally commencing with sword held vertical just above the head or from a hasso (shoulder position) - moving sword diagonally straight from top right to bottom left, top left to bottom right, the kiriagi - diagonal cut from bottom left to top right, bottom right to top left, the horizontal mayoko - left to right an dright to left. Also, the thrust with a flat blade or edge facing down.

Progression of difficulty can include multiple targets on stands, placed in different arrangements, cutting in the same plane or altering planes of sword travel. Continuous swing cutting where once the basic tome (halt) technique is mastered, then the momentum of the swing is carried over into the next cut. Further mastery can be obtained by specific cuts like mizu-gaeshi (cut diagonally upward to the right and then a horizontal cut on this piece before it has fallen). There is one particular cut sequence with good wrist action and tome required on a freestanding tatami on the floor, where multiple kesa cuts are executed without the sword tip hitting the ground. I've witnessed sensei Fricke achieve up to six such cuts, where the body stance also gets lower and wider and more difficult to swing through a shorter distance.

Tameshigiri allows one to put into practice what might otherwise remain a series of eloquent movements, pleasing to look at, but with the potential to offer much more.

Why is tameshigiri such an importantpart of Nakamura Ryu Battodo?
by Alex Ward, sho-dan

The Japanese word tameshigiri refers to the act of test cutting, in many senses. Historically, tameshigiri served the purpose of demonstrating a sword 'suitability for killing', by testing it on condemned criminals. The term use broadened over the years, to become the generic act of trying out one newly obtained blade for the first time. From a martial arts perspective, tameshigiri focuses on the art of test cutting, with emphasis on the style and proper execution of the cut by the swordsman, as opposed to the performance of the blade. It has become an integral element of Nakamura Ryu Battodo, providing a practical means for the swordsman to test and refine the skills learnt from kata.

Practising tameshigiri will improve every aspect of the swordsman's technique, including the co-ordination of tai-sabaki (use of the body), ashi-sabaki (use of the feet) and ken-sabaki (use of the sword). To effectively cut a target, one must judge the maximum distance at which they can cut with the arms fully extended. In addition to this, when executing the cut, one must utilise them ovement of their hip in the direction of the cut, to assist thet ransfer of energy in this direction. Employing these body movements while maintaining correct posture helps to enhance one's tai-sabaki. Once the swordsman is committed to the cut and is about to make contact, sliding the back foot in an outwards diagonal direction will turn the body at the hip, and provide a slicing movement at the sword cutting edge, forcing it into and through the target. The sword itself then relies on correct cutting angle and speed in order to successfully and accurately cut. From this it is evident that tameshigiri enforces the coordination of the swordsman's tai-sabaki, ashi-sabaki and ken-sabaki simultaneously in a practical environment, and correctly performing tameshigiri will yield the improvement of on's Tameshigiri is also important to Nakamura Ryu Battodo as it acts as a benchmarking system to assess a swordsman's current ability level and progress. Throughout the swordsman's career their knowledge of kata will grow, and it is essential to always revert back to tameshigiri to understand and maintain the practicality behind the kata. Periodically doing this will ensure the swordsman is continually moving forward and improving on each aspect of their technique. Tameshigiri is also used as a global means of keeping standards for good cutting, and tournaments are held regularly to increase competitiveness amongst swordsmen, encouraging the need to self-improve and maintaining the standards that define the various levels of ability. As such, tameshigiri is an essential aspect of swordsmanship that can allow one to determine their current ability level, and comparatively identify areas fo rimprovement in their technique.

In summary, tameshigiri is second to none as both a technique enhancer and performance measure. All swordsmen aspire to good cutting in tameshigiri, knowing it is a true measure of their ability and continually enforces correct coordination of the body, feet and sword as learnt from kata. It is a result of these things that good tameshigiri has become a global standard and ideal, and naturally such an important part of NakamuraRyu Battodo.

A selection of Essays for Nakamura Ryu Batto-do dan-examinations.

Nakamura Taizaburo Sensei and the Eight Directional Cut
by Philip Pulle, sho-dan

Nakamura Taizaburo Sensei was born in 1912 in the Yamagata prefecture. During WW2 he was a
'taito honbun sha', or an officer authorised to carry a sword, and a swordsmanship instructor in
northern China after graduating as an instructor of the Toyama Military Academy . During this time
he noticed many deficiencies of the then current state of swordsmanship and was inspired to
improve upon them.

Putting into context the state of Japanese swordsmanship at the time it is useful to note that this was
after a period of relative peace first under the Tokogawa Shogunate then ultimately the Meiji
Restoration. The effect of this was a proliferation of impractical, inflexible or overly stylized
swordsmanship techniques (except perhaps in some sword schools), what he called 'fishy' forms and
techniques. Also contributing to the problem was the Meiji ban on carrying swords (except for
authorized officers) and the impact of modern warfare, with it's different armour, uniforms and
tactics. In this context it is not surprising the 'poor showing' of swordsmanship on the battlefield
particularly during the Manchurian Incident and other conflicts in the Japan-China war.
After assignment in China and subsequent to the lifting of the ban on martial arts was lifted in 1952
he established the Toyama Ryu Iaido Federation in 1977 incorporating these improvements. It was
the study of calligraphy that enabled Nakamura Sensei to make the understanding that there were
only eight basic movements necessary in swordsmanship, thrust, downward cut (kiriosh), left and
right downward diagonal cut (kesa), left and right upward diagonal cut (kiriagi) and left and right
horizontal cut (mayoko). Similarly in writing Chinese/Japanese ideograms there are eight basic
strokes with the brush. Incidentally Nakamura Senseis calligraphy is strongly respected and he was
a master at this art as well.

In comparison to other sword styles the Toyama/Nakamura styles may be considered from casual
inspection to be plain or basic. However closer inspection takes into account the above history and
the practical application. With regards to application the style of cuts are open and broad, reflecting
the battlefield genealogy, where 'sneaky' or ornate moves are unnecessary. For example other styles
with shorter cuts, or intricate bewildering moves may be better suited to indoors or street fighting.
The more ornate or fiddly styles can often be sourced to Kabuki theatrical performances, rather than
practical application.

Interestingly the eight cut philosophy even makes its appearance in Japanese anime, a common
western introduction to Japanese society. The anime character Kenshin Hamura is portrayed in an
over the top style with so called 'god like' speed and power with dramatic flair. However his
signature 'ultimate' move that supposedly cannot be defeated, the Kuzu Ryuu Sen, is simply all
eight cuts delivered near simultaneously. It seems that the philosophy of Nakamura Sensei appears
in many unlikely situations.

Nakamura Sensei received some criticism both for being innovative in advocating a new approach
and for reintroducing swordsmanship into a Japan whose general population had mixed feelings on
this topic. Regardless of the criticism Nakamura Sensei was awarded the highest cultural award be
Imperial Decree, the title of Living National Treasure in 1992, a term for those designated as
keepers of important intangible cultural properties.

Thoughts on Iaido – Nakamura Sensei
Essential Principles of Nakamura Ryu – Nakamura Sensei
Various web sources including wiki

1) What is Nakamura Ryu Battodo?
2) Who was Nakamura Taizaburo?
3) Why do we put so much importance on kumitachi?
4) How does tenouchi affect cutting a target and why?
5) Why is tameshigiri such an important part of Nakamura Ryu Battodo?

Why is tameshigiri such an important part of Nakamura ryu Batto-do?
by Gemma Cuneo, sho-dan

Tameshigiri serves as an imperative 'revealing’ component of the student’s training whereby it involves factors that are distinct in the Nakamura Ryu Battodo style. In cutting the wara, one must be able to cut in the 8 directions, essential in Nakamura battodo and at the same time, the student’s capability of control and form are defined. Here, distance, stance, aiming and technique are tested and the correct positioning of hands on the tsuka (handle), feet and posture are emphasised. It is in expressing these qualities that demonstrates a student is consistent with Nakamura Ryu Battodo.

Tameshigiri is the test-cutting of wara, rolled up Japanese reed mats or bamboo originally to determine the quality of the sword. Today, it is a practice which reveals the skill of the swordsman. Anyone can cut a wara with a katana, however it is the way that it is cut which reveals the student’s skill and style. Unlike those untrained, students who have trained proficiently will always cleanly cut the target. In Nakamura Ryu Battodo, students are required to cut in 8 directions. These include Kesa (downward diagonal cut) and Kiriagi (upward diagonal cut) in directions Migi and Hidari (right and left), Mayoko Giri (horizontal cut): Hidari and Migi, Kirioshi (downwardscut) and tsuki (thrust). The kesa and kiriage cuts in wara must be at 45degree angle or otherwise is disregarded. This is because the angle reflects the area between the head and shoulder to the opposite waist, the ideal location for a disabling strike. Because battodo requires a single, lethal cut for each target, to be able to cleanly cut the wara in these directions thus reveals the level of understanding the student has of Nakamura Ryu.

Reminiscent of battlefield combat, Nakamura Ryu Battodo emphasises extension of the arms at the peak of the swing just after jodan no gamae or waki no gamae before the katana makes contact with the target. This ensures that the monouchi (the area close to the tip) reaches a high speed so it can effectively clear through wara with the least power while covering a greater distance than those styles which have tighter swings. This cut is most effective particularly with heavier targets as it involves a 'slicing’ effect. Here, the student uses power from rotating the hip and hara as the blade makes contact while sliding the back foot diagonally so a slicing action can be executed.

At the same time, posture and balance must be maintained, for a straight back with shoulders squared counter-balances the swing. Otherwise, to bend forward in to the cut is erroneous to the style, displaying no control and can be potentially hazardous.

Having said this, correct sword control is strictly important, where the student of NakamuraRyu must be able to stop the katana from travelling further than the target’s range. Te no uchi, the 'wringing’ hand grip, ensures that the katana is held effectively, preventing it from escaping thes tudent’s hands while cutting heavier targets and helps stop the blade’s movement with Tome. To perform Tome is to momentarily stop the sword after cutting before initiating the next. This ensures that the following cut starts from the correct position and demonstrates overall control over the katana.

Tameshigiri tests the student’s judgment of distance, particularly in the presence of multiple targets. While using Nakamura Sensei’s method of wide, circular swings, the student must integrate stepping and understand the limits of the cuts, neither under-estimating nor over-estimating their reach when approaching the target. To over-estimate would resultin missing, particularly when stepping back while cutting. To under-estimate is to be too close to the target which allows the centre of the blade, travelling at a slower rate than the tip to make the cut, which is not part of Nakamura ryu. Therefore the perfect distance is that which allows the mono uchi to reach the wara.

Aiming also becomes a concern as the student must be able to judge where the cut will take place. In Tameshigiri, some circumstances require the participant to make multiple cuts into a single wara. To be able to aim enables him or her to complete the task without running into previous cuts –and disqualification in competition- or requiring additional wara.

Hence, Tameshigiri involves many factors required of Nakamura ryu battodo, where the perfect cut displays a broad understanding of the style. On the other hand, if unsuccessful, there is something in the method left unaccounted for.

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