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The gruesome act of sword testing
The above diagram illustrates the cuts that would be used to test a Japanese katana . The poor victim would be a convicted criminal. Prior to testing the convicted criminal would be beheaded. The dead bodies were placed on sand mounds and the required cuts (see diagram above) were made. Only a qualified swordsman was allowed to test the blades .The Samurai where able to do this because they considered these criminals to be non-human. Although this all sounds dramatic the reality is this practice occurred in a very small part of the samuraiís history . People like to talk about it because it sound so gruesome and dramatic and generally over play itís part in the samuraiís development It occurred in and around the EDO period over approx 150 years a very small part of the samuraiís history. YES it did happen. NO it was never the main method of testing swords. Very very few famous swords smiths would allow their blades to be tested in this way after all heaven forbid you fail it would be the end of your career. It only occurred in very built up areas at the start of Japan switching to a more police controlled state. Of course most people lived in the rural areas so most samuraiís did not use this method of blade testing.
The most widely used method of blade testing is now and always has been Tameshigiri .
Tameshigiri is test cutting with a live blade on targets that simulate human body parts. Please do not attempt this without proper instruction, as it may be dangerous. It is not as easy as it appears. It requires a proper understanding of technique and form. Only use