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Book details
  • SubGenre:Adventurers & Explorers
  • Language:English
  • Series title:Modern Application of Ancient Ways
  • Series Number:1
  • Pages:188
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098367879

Mastering 1181 Cuts

by Russell McCartney

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This is a true coming-of-age account of how someone raised in the mid-west heartland of America came to travel abroad to become one of the greatest living Japanese-style swordsmen of the modern era. This account chronicles the birth of this passion at the age of 7 years and eventually blossomed into global competitions that led to two world record marks that have stood the test of time. The first of which is the Guinness Book of World Records standing unmatched for over 21 years for target test cutting 1181 consecutive cuts without a single missed attempt in one hour and twenty-five minutes on a continuously running clock. The second is a World Record Federation mark of 4 cuts on a single target in an amazing 1.16 seconds. Together, this journey spanned over 40 years of research, accumulated over 5 million sword swings, and resulted in a codified methodology for success that can be applied to any endeavor.


This autobiography chronicles the life and times of a journey from youth in the midwestern heartland of America and on to global sword competitions, multiple Hall of Fame inductions, and two world record achievements. The seed of this successful lifelong passion was planted in those simple times in rural America when creativity, ingenuity, and honest effort were the staples of a happy life. The son of hard-working middle-class parents, they instilled the lessons and guidance that molded his character as a young aspiring athlete. In time, those lessons drew a clear parallel of cross-cultural similarities with Japan that would lead him to this lifelong passion and a deeper understanding of himself and the greater world at large. From his earliest experiences at age four watching his grandfather, a modern-day blacksmith swinging his hammer in forging a variety of iron gardening and farming tools. This set the template for the beginning of a fascination with swords, the Japanese swordsmiths who made them, and the Samurai that used them.

On the heels of incomplete athletic dreams, he sought to fill that void with something that could satisfy and further discipline his physical and psychological disposition. With the first of three epiphanies, he moved from the American heartland to the west coast, searching the Great Northwest Cascade mountains near Mt. Rainier to discover what and where his higher calling might be waiting.

The second level of insight began with his emerging fascination with Japanese culture and swordsmanship. This eventually became such a passion that he gave up a successful business and lifestyle in southern California, to immerse himself into an esthetic process of discovery in hopes of answering the sword's call while calming his restless heart and mind. This pilgrimage pursued the deeper meaning of life through this driving passion of swordsmanship's intimate philosophical principles that the practice provides. Unbeknown to him at the time, it was the classic Hero's journey as described by renowned philosophers Frederic Nietzsche, Carl Jung, and the great mythologist Joseph Campbell; to leave, undergo a transformation, and return with news of the journey. This second of three transformations of consciousness emerged from his global travels, constant research, and training experiences that would eventually and profoundly change and refine how he interpreted and perceived his sword practice and the greater world at large. To immerse himself fully in the experience, he traveled, camped in forests and deep deserts, training swordsmanship 6-8 hours each day for over five years to the seclusion of all else, accumulating over three million sword swings and what he describes as 'just beginning' to understand this passion. It is what the Japanese call 'musha shugyu' (a warrior's pilgrimage), the journey to comprehend the depth of what this 1000-year-old practice had to teach him about the true meaning of swordsmanship, life, and himself.

Upon successfully returning to the regular world, and fifteen more years of dedicated practice, he began transmitting the basic principles of this art form to others. By 1997 this fresh perspective enabled Russell to accurately transmit complex principles and philosophies as an intuitive understanding for the elusive quality of greater life 'flow' on the way to mastery in swordsmanship. These efforts brought him to the attention of the greater sword community at large where he became the west coast representative for some high-profile Japanese instructors who sought out capable leaders to expand their own sword school's interests here in America. In a global competition platform with world-class swordsmen from Japan and Korea, he earned second place to a Korean man at the World target cutting championships in Taegu, Korea in 1999. This led to two still unmatched World Records that still stand 21 and 13 years respectively..

About the author

Mr. McCartney is an internationally recognized swordsman with over 40 years in the art form. He has achieved two target cutting records that remain unmatched for over 21 and 13 years respectively over his 25 years of international competition participation. Out of this experience, his dedication to this craft produced a revolutionary approach to swordsmanship in the form of a codified methodology increasing the efficiency and quality of the practice. This system presents a fresh and vibrant perspective that reveals more effective activity and strategies of this 1000-year-old art form. His dedication has earned him accolades from his peers as a successful sword instructor, lecturer, consultant, choreographer, and writer for video and stage productions, and as a contributing writer for various martial arts magazines, trade publications, and numerous other periodicals. His 'Shin Koryu' (new tradition) system for teaching, training, and the direct technical application of his revolutionary working principles for formal practice are innovative, scientific, and geometrically sound processes that transform how sword work is realized and applied. This system will improve the 'success to attempt' ratio for anyone who applies these principles to any stylized sword system or empty hand practice for greater, more consistent success in the practice, personal empowerment/self-realization, personal protection pursuits, and general life skills. His approach is also perfectly applicable to any business pursuit as readily applied strategies for success. He has been recognized on three continents with various awards and multiple Martial Arts Hall of Fame inductions as Founder, Innovator, and Instructor of the Year including Grand Master status for his expertise. His concise programs and colorful transmission of these ancient philosophic principles are valid centering guidelines for life in the modern world. He is currently finishing the second and third books of this trilogy.

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