What child hasn’t run around swinging a giant sword at imaginary enemies? We did it when we were kids and we’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that you did too! It’s just too bad that you can’t do it as an adult–at least not without someone calling the police! (Don’t ask how we know.)
Except that you totally can! Iaido, a Japanese martial art which uses real swords, is all about swinging blades at imaginary enemies–and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Of course, most iaido schools don’t use “giant” swords, since, in reality, an arm can only stretch so far. But certain styles have told reality to go jump in a river and given practitioners swords big enough to make Sephiroth blush.
Check out the awesome “giant sword” videos taking the Japanese Internet by storm below!
While most iaido swords are usually a manageable length of 2 shaku 2 sun (72 centimeters or about 2 feet 4 inches), students of the Tenshinryu Hyouho style also occasionally practice with something with a bit more reach just for the experience. As you can see below, these mere mortals are swinging around a sword a total of 3 shaku long–that’s equivalent to 90 centimeters or just under 2 feet 11.5 inches!
Of course, this is still quite a bit shorter than a Scottish claymore, for example, but remember these Japanese swords were meant to be used to attack while being drawn from their scabbards!
So, just how big are these swords?
▼Just take a gander at how long that scabbard is!
▼It’s like Samurai Stretch Armstrong…now that’s a cartoon we would watch!
It turns out they don’t just rely on the length of their giant weapons. There’s lots of technique to admire too–like this spinning jump-and-cut move. And here we thought all that anime was just fiction!
▼Reality: Cooler than fiction any day!
Around halfway through the video, you hear someone talking rather loudly in the background, distracting the gentleman with the huge sword. Now, normally, we wouldn’t try to interrupt anyone with a blade–but we’d especially leave them alone if they could stab us in the throat from almost a meter away! But it turns out that there was a reason, as this text explains:
“During filming, just before he drew his sword, you could hear someone talking to him, and this was to foster a ‘stone Buddha heart’ which won’t be distracted in any situation. This is the inimitable teaching method of Tenshin-sensei.
Well, I’m not sure, but he was distracted anyway.”
At least they have a sense of humor about things! Not sure we’d want humorless folks to have swords that big…
Here’s another sprightly move, with the name “floating cloud.” It consists of drawing the sword and slicing at your opponents legs before taking a jump with another cut around chest height. We have no idea how practical this is, but it sure as hell looks awesome!
▼It’s like Devil May Cry without the whole demon thing.
In addition to using giant swords, the Tenshinryu Hyouho school also practices some rather dynamic moves–like this roll that turns into a sword draw. Now, we’ve never practiced pulling a sword out of its sheath while rolling around on the floor, but we’re pretty sure that ranks a lot higher than running with scissors. We hope no one told their mothers!
▼My mom would just roll her eyes and say she’s not going to the hospital if anyone gets cut.
Of course, a lot of the awesomeness comes from the motion of drawing the sword. Pictures just aren’t enough, so be sure to watch the video below!
▼Feel free to add your own “whoosh” sounds as you like.
While the folks practicing Tenshinryu Hyouho use a pretty damn big sword, another school, Aomori Prefecture’s Shubudo, where they practice the Hayashizakishinmuso-ryu style, includes the use of a sword that is 3 shaku 3 sun long! That’s one meter, or just under 3 feet 3.5 inches, long. The person who posted the Tenshin-ryu video above was apparently inspired to upload it after watching the Shubudo video, which you can see below.
Interestingly, while the Tenshinryu Hyouho video shows practitioners using their massive swords against opponents at a distance, the Shubudo students spend the video using the long swords against an enemy who is seated right next to them. While we suspect that something shorter like a tanto would work better in this situation, there is no doubting the impressive and precise skill on display.
▼Whether near or far, these guys are always in stabbing range!
As difficult as this looks, we do know one thing: We wouldn’t want to be the guy in white!