A student of mine who unfortunately had to move a couple of thousand miles away reminded me today of the lesson he remembers most fondly. It involves the use of the sword in aikido and jodo. It goes something like this...
Consider what the sword is - a 3-foot long, razor sharp knife with a swept blade. You do not have to swing it like a caveman wielding a stalagmite!
Let the sword have the sword-nature!
- don't power all the way through the stroke with arm strength - raise it in front of your body and let it drop by relaxing your shoulders
- don't drape the sword over your back in preparation for a menuchi or yokomenuchi because you will have to exert muscularly to pick the blade back up before you can drop it on the target in front of you.
- Let the blade drop with absolutely minimal steerage from your muscles. The more you try to steer the blade, the more it wavers from its true path - and a blade that is vibrating laterally will not cut cleanly. Let gravity drop the blade in a straight line.
Let the sword be a sword.