BI’s world record-slashing sword master

What began as a Lord of the Rings-inspired fantasy has become a record-breaking reality.

Enamored with swordsmanship since his early days reading the JRR Tolkien trilogy, Bainbridge native Aaron McCloud this week slashed his way to a world speed record in tameshigiri, or target cutting using a samurai sword.

“My back still hurts,” said McCloud, 20, three days after completing the feat on Sunday before a crowd of 150 people at the Bainbridge High School gym. “I’m recuperating now, but a feel pretty darn happy.”

Following the Japanese traditions of tameshigiri’s ‘1,000 cuts’ event, McCloud sliced through hundreds of rolled rush mats using a formalized cutting technique. He made is one-thousandth slice in 33 minutes and 24 seconds, besting the previous record set by Japanese sword master Isao Machii by almost three minutes.

McCloud is submitting video recordings and written statements by witnesses for verification of by the London-based Guinness World Records authority.

“Right after I broke the record I felt great, but incredibly drained,” he said. “There was absolutely nothing left. I was running on nothing but will power at the end.”

McCloud took hold of a samurai sword at the age of 13 after his little brother chanced upon a dojo in the rural Bainbridge neighborhood of Rolling Bay.

“He said ‘hey, I found a place where you can do sword fighting,’” McCloud recalled. “I had been enamored with swords since…forever. I had been reading a lot of the Lord of the Rings books and thought it would be cool to do swordsmanship someday. My brother said, ‘well, now you can.”

McCloud trained in Bainbridge and Seattle and now teaches tameshigiri in Portland, Ore., where he is a student of Chinese literature at Reed College.

After years of honing his technique, McCloud has lately worked to boost his physical conditioning with running sprints and weight lifting.

“Doing that repetitious (event) feels like a marathon for the whole body,” he said.

Breaking the world record takes quality muscle as well as metal, McCloud added.

“It’s about how (the sword) is balanced,” he said. “A good piece of metal sings. It just floats there.”

His goal attained, McCloud rewarding himself with a return to fantasy.

“Right now, I’m just relaxing and playing video games,” he said. “I’m not even thinking about what I’ll do next.”

Photos by Diane Walker.

2 thoughts on “BI’s world record-slashing sword master

  1. All I can picture is the historical record of the Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang about the Japanese occupation of Nanking China in 1938. The soldiers there held contests with the beloved samurai swords on live Chinese citizens. The samurai is an instrument of war. Would the Sun be covering a person who broke the Guiness World Record of sharpshooting pumpkins with a sniper’s rifle? I doubt it.

    Is it any wonder this record-holder hails from Bainbridge? I wonder where he got his “obsession” with things Japanese? Perhaps it was the 6th grade curriculum of “Leaving Our Island.”

  2. Congratulations to the remarkably skilled and talented Aaron McCloud
    for his WORLD CLASS performance of the ancient art of Tameshigiri.I
    wish I could have witnessed the event.I’m sure his feat will be verified as a WORLD RECORD.This young person is a true Sword Master
    in an ancient art whose mastery demands the respect and admiration
    of all.The dedication,focus,physical and mental strength,that this young man has displayed,is truly historical and shall go down as such.
    Jim Olsens myopic response is to be expected.In my opinion.

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