Any serious sword enthusiast will tell you that the katana is
a truly one-of-a-kind weapon, not only in its appearance, but in the manner in
which it is used as well. While some
swords are intuitive when it comes to how one must train with them, the style
associated with katana is completely unique, and therefore requires specialized

#1: Choose Your Katana Wisely

Of course, you can’t train with a katana without the
katana itself. The katana has been
around since the 12th century, and those who produce katanas today still
adhere to many of the ancient manufacturing practices. As someone who is interested in training with
one, you need to choose your weapon wisely, looking for durability, comfort in
terms of the grip, and size.

#2: Find a Certified Trainer

It should go without saying that the best way to
master the katana is to find a certified trainer. You may be surprised by how many trainers
there are in your region, who are considered katana masters. While there are various tutorials floating
around the internet, nothing comes close to having one-on-one lessons with
someone who can constantly refine your technique. Further, working with a certified trainer can
help you prevent injury.

#3: Build Muscle Strength

One thing about the katana that any trainer will tell
you is that the person handling it requires a good deal of physical
strength. The katana is unique in the
way in which it demands quite a bit from the body. Technique is important, but you simply won’t
be able to use the sword properly if your body cannot support it.

This means that outside of training with an
instructor, you should maintain a regular exercise routine that revolves around
building muscle mass. Your trainer may
be able to guide you toward the right exercises for this specific practice.

#4: Study the Philosophy

Japanese weaponry is a lot more than a means for
fighting. Anyone who practices katana
will tell you that there is an entire philosophy built around it, that one must
study in order to not only take their skills to the next level, but appreciate
the sword’s capabilities and history.
There is a lot of focus on becoming one with the katana, which allows
for easier movement and more success overall.
Studying this philosophy will get you into the mindset of the ancient warriors
who mastered this weapon centuries ago.

#5: Warm Up Properly

It’s important not to overlook the importance of
warming up prior to each training session.
Using the katana requires a lot of bending, extending of the joints and
carrying significant weight in the upper body.
Failing to warm up the muscles and joints prior to every session can
seriously result in injury. Besides
that, it will prevent you from using your body to its fullest potential.

#6: Practice Footwork

A major component of being a katana master is having
the footwork down. The footwork
associated with katana is unique, and must be practiced rigorously until it
becomes second nature. This footwork
should be unconscious, so that your effort is going into what you’re doing with
the sword rather than how you’re moving your lower body. It’s strongly recommended that you practice
footwork daily at home, both with and without handling the sword at the same
time, at least early on in your training.

#7: Maintain Your Katana

You will be expected to care for your weapon properly,
as this shows that you honor the practice of using it. Clean it as needed, and store it in a way
that protects it from harsh environmental factors like excessively dry air and
extreme cold.

#8: Be Patient

A key to becoming a katana master is being
patient. Impatience is the enemy of
progress, and will prevent you from truly enjoying every step of the training
process. This type of weapon in
particular requires the development of solid technique, which simply doesn’t
happen overnight. Rather than trying to
rush through training in order to master katana as soon as possible, cherish
each and every exercise, knowing that you’re on your way to mastering this

#9: Join Katana Groups Online

You know what they say - there’s a subreddit for
everything. We encourage you to join any
online katana groups where fellow trainees discuss what they’re learning in
practice, tips on improving technique and methods for caring for the sword
itself. This is where you can learn a
whole lot from other people in your position, and ask questions about your own
training to those who have experience.

#10: Watch Training Tutorials

When you’re not actually training with your katana
instructor, it doesn’t hurt to watch training tutorials and videos online in
order to constantly tweak and improve your technique. This is also a great way to maintain a solid
practice when you’re at home, which can help improve your form and technique
when you’re actually working with your instructor.

#11: Respect the Rituals and Etiquette

When it comes to any type of martial arts, there are
rituals and etiquette that many masters deem just as important as the technique
of using the weapon. If you’re going to
commit to the ancient practice of katana, your trainer will expect you to
respect the rituals and etiquette by following them to a tee. Doing so is also a sign of respect for the
person who is training you.

#12: Be Consistent with Your Practice

Finally, we urge you to be consistent with your
practice. Learning this art takes time,
and you may feel frustrated along the way, especially if you have no martial
arts experience whatsoever. But being
consistent will reward you, as you’ll eventually find that your effort has paid

Some may find that regular training sessions become
too costly, as our financial situations shift from time to time. If you need to cease one-on-one training, you
don’t have to put the katana into storage.
Continue practicing what you’ve learned and keeping up with your
training until a new opportunity comes along.

Final Thoughts

The katana is a beautiful sword in terms of its
aesthetics, and will grace the collection of any sword enthusiast with its striking
lines and dominating presence. But, more
and more enthusiasts are interested in training with the sword rather than
owning it solely for its ornamental value. Following these tips will have you well on
your way to mastering the art of using this highly respected weapon.

Source: How to Train with a Katana