The first time I held a real sword in my hands, I was terrified. I was afraid I would cut my hand. Who wouldn't, right!?
Shisho(師匠) that day said I was not progressing well with practice. There is something missing in my technique. He instructed a senpai (先輩) of mine to lend me his real sword to continue the practice. I said goodbye to my fingers jokingly before performing the ipponme (一本目). At the end of it, Shisho applauded and said that was by far the best ipponme he has seen me performed - ever! The "steady nervousness", as he described it, is what I must always remember, as the sword is a weapon with one singular purpose. If you are not careful, it will cut you with no remorse. Be afraid of it, but be one with it. But in this context, being "afraid" in a respectful sense. Know the absolute state of supremacy it confers on the person who wields it with skill, confidence and honour. But equally important to know the danger surrounds its use by one who is foolish, hesitant and disrespectful.