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Cutting bamboo with a sword

Subject: Cutting bamboo with a sword
by Kingyo on 2003/2/5 14:45:14

Hello everyone. Nice to have kutaki up again.

So to continue my tameshigiri discussion, (James Garcia and Luke are you out there?) I've been doing tameshigiri on tatami omote successfully with my swords and decided I wanted to try cutting fresh bamboo. I was able to find bright green stalks (the color of a lime or broccoli) at the wholesale flower district in Manhattan. Just to try out the quality I bought one ten foot stalk and brought it home. It was about 1.5 to 1.75 inches thick. Too long to fit on my cutting stand, I cut it in half by holding it in my left hand and making an angled cut with my wakisashi. That went well. I did subsequent cuts with the half stalk positioned vertically on my stand and proceeded to cut it in kesagiri. The severed top section of the bamboo came off at a clean steep bevel sort of like a giant hypodermic needle. However the section that remained on the stand was not a neat bevel but instead it shattered into fragments for a few inches below the cut. Is this because the bamboo needs to be fresher? Or is this due to a bad cutting angle? Note that the cut edge of the top section was neat and clean. Neither my katana or my wakizashi suffered any damage. I did not try using my tanto but I suspect it would have cut well too.

Also, is there an advantage to cutting fresh bamboo over tatami mats or vice-a-versa? Is it much harder to cut stalks that are say three or four inches thick?

Any answers would be greatly appreciated.

Domo arigato gozaimas
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