Holding the sword correctly will allow you to swing it effectively and efficiently.
The first real Japanese sword, known as a katana was smithed around the year 700 AD. And since then has developed and transformed into what we know today and the Japanese Samurai Sword. Before we get started with this lesson, there are some basic words you need to know.
First off, in Aikido we never really practice with a real sword, it’s just too dangerous. We train with whats called a Bukkuto or Bokken – Wooden sword. For practical purposes we are only going to look at the wooden sword. Below is a diagram of the sword. Or, just watch the video and I will walk you through all the parts.
When holding the sword, you will be using both hands, and each hand has a unique function.
The left hand always holds the bottom of the Tsuka, the handle, while the right hand always holds up close to the Tsuba. Generally you will have about a fist of distance between both hands. But of course, that varies with fist size. Japanese people tend to have smaller hands than Westerners. Keep that in mind. If you have big hands, you can always custom make your bukkuto to fit!
Always remember that the left hand is the power hand, the hand that controls how much power you put into the swing and the right hand is the control hand, the hand that controls the angle Of the blade.
To properly hold a sword you want to grasp it kind of like you would a tennis racket or a golf club with a few minor differences.
Put the hilt of the sword into the palm of your hand right where the crease, watch my video above to see how I hold it, and let the sword become part of your arm.
You don’t want to hold the sword like you’d hold a baseball bat because it won’t allow you to fully control the blade and the power of the swing. And some cautionary advice, a sword can get very heavy after having to swing it a thousand times!
Your left hand comes very close to the edge gripping from the pinky and the thumb, while your right hand grips up close to the guard, the same way, placing the sword into the crease of your hand. Both hands grip the sword the same.
To lift the sword you turn your right hand up and push up with your left hand.
To swing the sword you pull down with your left hand and control the blade with your right hand.This is called a shomen uchi strike. Turn your right hand up, push up with your left, then pull down with your left, controlling the blade with your right. The end of the strike should end here at what is called Chudan, middle position. You do not want to dip the tip of the sword, you prevent this from happening by controlling the blade with the right hand.
Turn your right hand up and then push up with your left hand. Get the sword above your head so that you can see through your arms clearly, pull down with your left hand, using your right hand to control the blade. Now repeat. Start off with something easy like 100 srikes, then go for 1,000. After 10,000 strikes, you should become an expert of the shomen uchi strike.
Thank you and I hope you enjoyed this lesson on how to hold the sword for Aikido practice.
If you ever find yourself in my area, stop by for a class. Because of COVID-19, we’ve been focusing mainly on weapons training. We have classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Visit our website for more information:
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