Wounded in the Right Hand
Wounded in the Right Hand While Practicing Bayonet versus Dagger Drills
Nihon To Tameshigiri no Shinzui (The Essence of Japanese Sword Testcutting), (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1980) p.189 Translated by Guy H. Power, edited by Takako Funaya.
In November, 1943 I was assigned to Camp Jinmu in northern Manchuria. Inside the camp were about 30 new graduates of the Rikugun Shikan Gakko, the army officer academy. In order to make them self-confident in the use of their sword, I conducted exhibitions to teach the use of bayonet versus sword, bayonet versus knife, swordsmanship, and testcutting as devised by the Toyama Military Academy.
On the previous day sergeant Honma, my opponent, and I had conducted rehearsals; still... We had completed the bayonet versus sword drills (kata) and were in the middle of teaching the bayonet versus dagger. Sergeant Honma was using a real bayonet and I was using a real dagger, the variety used by the infantry. However, a mistake was made in the drill sequence and I received a bayonet thrust to the underside of my thumb where I was grasping the dagger hilt.
Fortunately, I was not hit in the bone. The bayonet was pulled out and I was taken to the clinic for medical treatment. As the army doctor wrapped the wound in gauze, the pain became much more severe than when I had received the wound in the first place.
The next day I was to teach testcutting to the 30 new officers. I borrowed four swords from other officers and demonstrated the single-handed left and right kesagiri (diagonal cut). Since my right hand was injured, I used my left hand instead; however, the blades bent. I was only able to cut through approximately one-half of the target--I was unable to execute itto ryodan (cut through with a single stroke). Then and there, I researched the single-handed grip until 12 that evening. For the first time, I came to understand the proper grip for the single-handed kesagiri (literally, "priest robe cut").
I took the examination for 4th dan in Nitto Ryu (Two Sword Style) when I was a kendo 3rd or 4th dan; I had just begun studying Nitto Ryu, so I failed. Immediately after that examination, I took the same examination for Itto Ryu (One Sword Style) and passed. In 1940 I passed the Renshi (instructor license) examination at the Kyoto Tournament. In 1953 I took the Kyoshi (teacher license) examination in Kyoto at the First All Japan Kendo Federation Kyoshi Examination. Just as I expected, I passed only the Itto Ryu examination. Still, even in the present day the Nitto Ryu portion of the yearly Kyoto Tournament is extremely difficult.
This line of thought, of Nitto Ryu, is not irrelevant. Of the officers we selected to attempt the left hand single-handed kesagiri, the successful ones were those who had previously studied Miyamoto Musashi's Nitto Ryu. Something more than ordinary mental attitude is indispensable in swordsmanship.