top of page

Nothing worth doing is ever easy.

「斬りおろし」Kirioroshi, the most basic strike one will have to learn in any Japanese sword related martial arts. Seemingly simple, cut in a straight line in a downward motion. Yes, but also the hardest thing I have to do, and after more than twenty years, I still dare not say I have it mastered. In the beginning, I was just taught to cut in a straight line, without hitting the ground and breaking something (most likely the practice sword). As time went on, I discovered I was not doing it correctly. I pracitced and practiced, then got to a point I thought I was doing it properly. That I continued for a great many more years. With the advances of digital video cameras and smartphones, I begin to notice there are many flaws in my kirioroshi. Partly because I have moved to using a real sword in the last two years and the weight as well as the balance is different. Needless to say Shisho would not hesitate to point them out to me either. My delusion of being able to cut can probably be due to the misleading swoosh generated by the "hi" (樋) or the groove. It helps make the most impressive sound cutting through air. I even bought a wooden sword before with a groove in it just to make that noise! My current sword has no groove (as per instruction of Shisho I bought one without). That noise of the blade cutting through the air can only be heard if you cut correctly. Shisho and a few 8th Dan Hanshi (八段範士) can generate a loud and clear sound EVERYTIME!! Don't get me wrong, the ability to create that swooshing sound in no way indicates your cut is good! It only means you are cutting with your blade straight in the plane of your sword swing. Being able to cut with that swing is another story all together. I spend many hours trying to correct my little faults, but the motion has so deeply ingrained into my muscle memory I found it nearly impossible to do anything differently.

If you think you can do a very proper kirioroshi, chances are, you are still far from perfecting it. Time to practice.....

bottom of page