Michael Edelson wrote:To focus a moment on the last item above, there is a cut in battodo called "dodan." You set up a bunch of double rolled mats horizontally and stack them one on top of the other, then you come up to it, measure yourself, cock all the way back (even bending over backwards) and see how many mats you can cut through on the way down. Now at first glance this would seem to have little to do with combat. After all, who is going to let you walk up to them, take a massive prestretch and cut? But that initial impression couldn't be further from the truth. Dodan is one of the most combatively applicable cuts I've ever done. As I understand dodan, its purpose is to test your grip as your sword passes through a massive and dense object...the human torso (there's probably lots more to it, but I'm fixated on this one aspect). If your grip is good, the sword will continue straight down and either stop in the target (if you run out of steam) or on the wooden stand below it. If your grip is flawed, you will lose control of the sword and it will torque inside the target.
No quarrel meant with you sir, but I fail to realise why dodan is combatively applicable. Honestly, it just seems like an old Reinhardt-stunt to me. Plus may I point out that there is not a single reference to test/target-cutting in any Fechtbuch.
Michael Edelson wrote:Or we can just listen to Dobringer. The only text source in the medieval German tradition that tells us how to grip the sword (when striking, as opposed to when doing binding actions/close work) tells us very specifically not to grip the pommel.
That is quite true and by it nature as coming from a primary source, it deserves our respectful consideration.