I was diligently training in my dojo recently. I had worked through all the battojutsu that I knew and I decided to spend some time working on a movement from one of the kumitachi. I had been told prior, that this particular movement can be practiced near a doorway or similar because it is important to move the sword precisely ninety degrees during the movement. So I lined up a section of wall in my dojo that borders where people would enter to step onto the mats. I tried the movement a few times until I was happy that I was moving the sword ninety degrees. The second movement of this technique requires the blade to snap up from a horizontal position to a vertical position. I looked to the low beam that ran across the entrance to the mat and thought, "Will my sword hit that, I guess I will find out." In the next instance the tip of my sword is embedded in the wood of the beam. My first thought is "My poor sword!" my next thought is "The beam!."
After checking the sword for damage (there was none I could see) I then admired the fine line I had produced in the wood of the beam. It reminded me that despite the fact I am training with a habikito (dull blade), the metal point at the end of the sword is still quite dangerous. It had punched into the wood very well despite a lack of effort on my part.
The cut in the wood reminds me of a group of fine lines over some of the mats at the Hamilton dojo. These lines occurred when Robbie Smith sensei used to train by himself at the dojo. Sometimes he would get the angle of his cuts wrong and hit the mat. Just another reminder that these dull blades are still large metal knives that must be handled with respect.
Takamura sensei had plenty to say on the matter of swords. My understanding is that he was a strong believer in swords taking on the spirit of their owners, or at least being imprinted with past events where they were used. He a list of do's and don'ts when handling swords in the dojo as well. Some of them are Shinto related, others simply there to ensure safety.
Of course it is a natural progression to think of the implications of training with a shinken (live blade). Imagine the danger of making a mistake with a three foot razor blade!
After a quick search on YouTube under the key terms "sword accident" shows just what can happen.
A lesson to be learned there, for sure!
There are plenty of other videos you can watch, but you get the point (pun intended).
Train safe, folks!