In its original form Tameshigiri  was exclusively used  to test the sharpness and strength of a katana blade on different materials like metal, wood and human bodies.
Nowadays tameshigiri has become more of a jard-stick to demonstrate an individual's cutting-skills on either rolled up and dampened mats tatami-omote, green bamboo take,  or tatami-omote rolled around take.
"Tameshigiri should be a permanent part of all Japanese sword styles as  it gives instant feed back on ones technique and cutting skills: making theory unnecessary." *


Simply going through fancy cutting motions with a katana does not hone or perfect ones sword skills. It's only when one can actually slice through a target at the right angle, and maintain sword-trajectory, grip tenouchi and full control after each cut tome the results of ones techniques will become immediately apparent.

Source "The Spirit of the Sword" by Nakamura Taizaburo  

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