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Sword-Cutting Practice of Feudal Japan: Anatomical Considerations of Tameshigiri

By Peter J. Ward, Ph.D.




Sword-Cutting Practice of Feudal Japan: Anatomical Considerations of Tameshigiri

Tameshigiri was the historical practice of testing the quality of Japanese blades by cutting bundles of rice or the bodies of executed criminals. Certain routine cuts, which varied in their difficulty, were prescribed for testing blades. This article uses images gathered from the Visible Human Project to demonstrate the anatomical structures that would have likely been involved in these different cuts. The name, placement, and difficulty of each cut were taken from the seminal work on this topic in English by Joly and Hogitaro (1963). The Visible Human slice viewer (visiblehuman.epfl.ch) was accessed to create a “slice” that replicated each of the cuts. Each of the tameshigiri cuts from the text was recreated and the anatomical structures involved were tallied. An anatomical investigation of the practice of tameshigiri illuminates the reason why each cut was more or less difficult than others.

SOURCE: eJournal: Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Vol. 22 No. 1 (2013): 18 pages.


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