Military Sword Test Cutting Statistics 

Nakamura Taizaburo,
Nihon To Tameshigiri no Shinzui (The Essence of Japanese Sword Testcutting), (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1980) p.188 Translated by Guy H. Power, edited by Takako Funaya.

Just prior to the end of the Pacific War, I was assigned to the 2d Kanto Army, Yamashita Corps, "Southern Special Assault Force," which was organized from other infantry groups. As the "special swordsmanship instructor," I taught battlefield martial arts, utilizing the instruction plan below:

Army Sword Quick Training Course
"Killing With a Single Stroke"

Matters Requiring Attention:

1.     Courage to kill.

2.     Strengthen and reinforce your mettle.

3.     Deeply study your techniques.


This is a short-term training course designed to intensify the depth of confidence in your cuts-and-thrusts, using the army sword without mistake. Self-confidence will be imparted to all by means of hand-to-hand combat.


Regimental orders designated responsibility for instruction to the Executive Officer, Captain Saitoh. Because there was no green bamboo in northern Manchuria (northeast China), white birch and reeds bound into sheaves were used for test cutting.


Although many among the officers there held a ranking in kendo, none had ever used a real sword; the difference between a kendo bamboo sword and a real sword was something they had only heard about.


To achieve self-confidence in one's own sword, test cutting was employed as compulsory training. According to the following statistics, the results of the compulsory training are listed below:


Note: A target of bundled straw was suspended from a tree; the technique utilized was left and right kesagiri "priest robe cut" (from the upper guard stance, a left and right downward diagonal cut).

1.     15 men were able to cut successfully.

2.     6 men made mistakes in their distance or cut-angle and bent their swords.

3.     12 men cut only 1/3 to 1/2 of the target before coming to a stop.

4.     10 men cut only 1/4 of the target before coming to a stop.

5.     8 men cut only 1/5 of the target before coming to a stop.

6.     One man misjudged his engagement distance; his sword tip barely touched the target and flew through the air. Moreover, because his grip was poor the sword's inertia caused the handle to break away from his hand, cut his left knee, and fly about 35 feet away. This officer cadet held a 3rd degree (3rd dan) rank at his university kendo club.

Judging from what we see from these statistics, prompt results arise from testcutting. I have come to fully realize that testcutting, in coalition with iaido and kendo, is very important for physical and spiritual forging.