Misinformation is one of the biggest problems with martial arts and self defense, especially nowadays, and given it’s a topic literally dealing with life and death, this misinformation can and will kill people, and has plenty of times already. Once is more than enough; anything else is inexcusable. It’s why I hope you all send people to talk to me as needed.
While the following misinformation I’m about to dissect isn’t immediately lethal, since it involves swords and we can’t exactly carry those around legally, it’s a good example of passing on bad information, especially if you’re not a martial artist/swordsman/self defense practitioner or teacher. While understandable that they wouldn’t know better, it’s still annoying. It becomes inexcusable when passed on by someone in the field.
Let’s get it on.
Today we’re dissecting this really bad tweet I ran across a while ago. The key phrase here is “Exceptionally good.” It’s of a gif of two robots using katanas and dueling with them, being described as highly skilled. If you can’t see the tweet, I saved the gif in case of that or deletion.
The robots here are blocking blade on blade. This is a great and quick way to chip your blade, dull it, or in some cases, even break it. There are some minorly acceptable ways to block with the back of the blade, but even then it’s more of a flicking maneuver than a full on hard block like what’s going on here.
We teach this to beginners because our preferred method, which relies on superior footwork and parrying to avoid the other guys’ sword altogether, takes time to develop well enough you can rely on it regularly. Until then, a hard block is better than nothing. If it’s all you got left and it’s a case of life or death, of course you go for the hard block. Better your sword dulls than your life cut down.
Because of this, though, I’ve already seen two of my sensei’s spare cutting swords get majorly damaged form newcomers who shouldn’t be handling heavy target cutting at their point in training, but insisted on showing up anyways. One drove the tip of the sword into concrete and tore the tip off. The other one couldn’t cut through a tatami mat roll properly and wound up bending the blade at a weird angle that it cannot be drawn properly anymore, and had to be retired to a storage area it can sit safely outside its scabbard without being near anyone or anything the edge can cut/damage.
Yikes! No wonder sensei was okay with me saying only I would be allowed to use my cutting sword and that I was wise not to lend it out.
So at -best-, what you’re looking at here is a beginner’s routine, if even that, programmed in and being run. There’s definitely room for improvement on this skillset. While they’re all proper cuts and blocks, it’s not what I’d consider “exceptionally good” or even “good” or even “competent”. It’s impressive to someone who has no idea how swords function, and if they had been holding anything not swords, I guarantee you your interest in this would plummet at least 90%, if not fully.
It’s why it’s so easy for me to come up with routines for demonstrations at events around here; pick what would look impressive to the audience, ham it up a bit playing a cool ronin or hard bandit role, speak loud and commanding Japanese and you have a guaranteed crowd, regardless of what the technique actually does. Bonus points for dressing the part. It’s all about the flashiness and knowing your audience won’t know if or when you fuck up or how you did. Stuff like board breaking’s actually pretty easy, but most people don’t know that. It’s an easy sell. If you don’t know the actual combat application or history or what curriculum or skill level it’s at, it’s an easy draw and easy sell.
Not to mention the absolute worst part of this gif it’s only a small chunk of an original video. And it’s sped up massively from it. Oops. That helps dupe people into believing more is happening and that it must be high level if it’s fast.
The original video? Is honestly extremely boring for most people to watch and even I was bored during it, but it helped me pinpoint that yes, these are hard blade on blade blocks, and whomever programmed this watches too much anime, perhaps.
Here it is. Not very exciting when it’s at its original speed, now is it? That’s the nature of misinformation though is to completely mislead you, and anyone looking at this got taken for a hard ride.
It’s sad, because the real deal is always more impressive and badass to me. There’s a reason behind all our techniques and what we do. Why you have to make this crap up, pass it off as gospel, especially if it’s not something you do nor your area of expertise is beyond me, besides wanting attention.
Misinformation kills. It builds a rocky foundation upon which towers crumble easy. It can take forever to pave over, even if you saturate yourself in nothing but good information for a long time.
So be aware of the warning signs. Is this person in the field? If they aren’t, it’s a big red flag. Things like speeding this up is also trickery. There’s no context, no source, no backstory, no information, the OP can’t field any questions about it. If the person is in the field, then double shame on them. It’s the martial arts/swordsmanship/self defense equivalent of hot clickbait; the same warning signs with that crap apply here tenfold at least. Most of all, be wary of people trying to pass opinions off as facts.
Be wary of these signs, and if all else fails, you’re free to talk to me. And feel safe in the knowledge there will be no robot uprising as I can beat them all in a duel.