I think for us, because we study sword seriously, understanding Form and Emptiness through the sword is a very, very special thing. Some people may be cutting to develop strength and endurance and center and all that, but to feel the nature of movement itself yin and yang, in and yo, is a very, very essential thing. When the sword is floating – a sword of “heaven” – it’s completely different than picking the sword up and beating on something. Even though, often, you have to start off by beating on things.
So, for instance, we have a very specific way to hold a sword which is, I guess, a sort of secret teaching of our ryu but really is very practical and works, but it also… if you hold a sword that way… it grounds you, connects you… it does all the physicality that you need: connects the hips, et cetera…
Also, it’s not an ambitious sword: you cut a thousand cuts not to make a thousand cuts but to experience each cut: smoothly, clearly… and soon your jodan cut becomes shomen-uchi: it’s like you see everything begins to fuse together, and you understand the nature of shomen-uchi. Because while sometimes people think that, in aikido, the forms are kind of contrived… “no-one hits that way…” you hear all kinds of criticism… well, the truth is they don’t know what we’re studying, really,
You’ve got to remember when you’re thinking about the idea of te-gatana, that there’s a scroll tengu transmitting this idea of the sword-hand. And you’re not going to be truly studying the sword-hand unless you use it like a sword. And you’re not going to understand a sword till you pick up the sword and use it. A sword is made for cutting. You have to know how to use the sword and feel it interacting with its environment, particularly its target. So I think that’s pretty essential stuff.
– – – Kimbal Anderson Sensei