Author: Bret Gordon
Having been involved in the Sport Karate world for so long, in addition to my study of traditional and practical martial arts, my biggest pet peeve is seeing anyone using a Japanese sword (Nihonto) in traditional kata competition that is not doing a traditional iaido/iaijutsu style kata. More often than not, their forms show complete lack of understanding on proper sword mechanics and training, in addition to just being disrespectful. The nihonto is not just another weapon, and should not be treated as such. However, if you feel you MUST put together a tournament style "traditional" kata using nihonto, please make an effort to use it properly. The two biggest mistakes people make are proper grip of the sword, as well as their cuts. Proper grip is shown below. Instead of choking the tsuba (hand guard) as most people do, you must give the sword room to "breathe." Also, there are no chopping motions done with a nihonto. It is curved for optimal SLICING and all cuts should reflect that. The kissaki must move first, not your arms. And if you don't know what the kissaki is, please put the sword down and do some research. I am NOT the be all and end all of Japanese sword work, and I do not claim to be an expert in traditional Kenjutsu, but if you're going to do something, be respectful and do it right at least.