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How to cut with a sword

I'm no kendo master, but here's a lesson that you can use in your aikido and jodo.  It's common to see a student drape the sword downward behind his back in preparation to make a downward menuchi cut (see the following film starting at about 1:50). Don't do this.
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Notice that in all the downward strikes in this film, the center of mass of the sword and arms lies in front of the swordsman's body.  Thus, all he has to do to strike is relax and the arms and sword drop forward and downward.  If you drape the sword over your back then to strike you must exert to get the sword back in front of your body.
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This is not just an energy conservation idea.  It is a motor control idea too.  You've got two arms hooked to the sword, and if you start exerting with them, it's not possible to exert equally, so your arms will exert against each other and the sword will waver from side to side during the cut.  If, however, you make unbendable arms and drop the arms-plus-sword as a unit, the sword will fall in a straighter path, making it easier to hit your precise target and making a cleaner cut.

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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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