It’s not every day you get told to “just imagine you’ve got a sword slicing through your head”.
This strange phrasing was all part of a Samurai sword masterclass from swordplay experts 30-Delux .
The team hosted the class at University of East London’s Stratford campus ahead of their musical Kuli-Kala at Stratford Circus .
Within the class people learnt about sword naming, slicing and being sliced, the 15 basic movements and saw performances of Ta-Te - the art of Japanese swordplay used in onstage fighting scenes.
This is what we learnt from 30-Delux’s Junji Shizmu, Masaru Mori and Sena Kaneda.
1. Some moves are comically gory and there are some weird phrases involved
Within the 15 basic movements is a casual one at the end where you “shake off the blood” from the sword, while the occasional “torso cutting” and “just imagine you’ve got a sword slicing through your head” can be heard.
2. Samurai swords are really heavy
Ok, so the ones used in the master class were made out of bamboo, with foil wrapped around (who’s going to let a bunch of strangers loose on actual swords?) but the team said a real one, or Katana, is around 7kg each. Hefty.
3. Everything from the blade to the sheath has a name
The top of the sheath is called koikichi - which roughly translates as ‘fish lips’ in Japanese - as it looks like a pair of fish lips.
4. Left handers fight with their right hand
Apparently even left-handed people prefer to use their right hand to hold their sword.
However, 30-Deluxe’s Junji Shizmu said people acting out a fight scene in adapted Manga films will come to him to learn how to fight with their left hand - as many fighters are depicted using this side within the genre.
5. It’s not about glorifying violence
Kuli-Kala coproducer Hiroshi Kato stopped the class halfway through to ensure the real meaning of the activity wasn’t confused.
He said: “There’s no way we are glorifying violence here. Killing someone is not a laughing matter and life is sacred and we all believe that.
“Within a class we want everyone to have fun, but it is something that needs to be kept in mind.”
Kuli-Kala is set in the mythical province of Zipang during the 16th century, where swashbuckling sword fights are part of every day life.
The story follows an enigmatic Samurai (Junji Shimizu) and a group of female Ninjas (including Sena Kaneda) who are seeking revenge against an evil Shogun (Masaru Mori) who has assassinated their families.
Various times, Tuesday, November 24 to Wednesday, November 28, £12-£20, Stratford Circus