Tameshigiri (試し斬) is a targeted cutting with a sword test. During tameshigiri a swordsman skill is testing these days. Different materials are used to test. Mostly rice straw (wara), top layer of tatami mats (goza), bamboo and much more.
It all started in the 17th century (Edo Period in Japan) and thing were quite more brutal than now. Most skillfull swordsmes were chosen to execute tameshigiri and the purpose was to understand the quality of a sword. People were the targets of the sword testing games too. Dead ones or even the alive ones in case they were criminals.
Today tameshigiri evolved to a martial art and the main idea is to demonstrate a skill of a performer. Performers have some other names for tameshigiri like shito or shizan.
It looks simple but one must practice a lot to make good cuts. The difficulty of cuts is a combination of the target material hardness, the direction of the grain of the target , the quality of the sword, the angle of the blade (hasuji) on impact, and the angle of the swing of the sword (tachisuji).
Tameshigiri is perfomed with the different weapons also, not only the swords. With the naginata for example.
A process is really charming A lot of interesting things happen during the practice. Like funny fails or unbelievable results. It’s all about the skill and a luck in second place, just like anywhere you go in you life. So practice hard and you’ll get the best.