The Kashria is what we call the ‘Pommel’ upon our swords, and is basically the cap at the end of the Tsuka that protects the wooden handle from damage and the bindings called the ‘Ito’ from unravelling. It is often ornamented with matching themes from the Tsuba or even the Menuki (handle ornaments) and a swordsman when ordering the furniture of his sword would choose all of these designs to reflect himself and his life.
Also a strong end cap would of been of great use in the heat of battle, when both ends of the sword may be called into service for close quarter fighting, and the Kashria could be ‘smashed’ in to an opponents face! Or driven in to the body to create room for a full swing of the sword, who might know!
These forms of desperate measures that must be used in combat are more the province of our unarmed combat classes now, and not found in our tranquil sword classes today…luckily!
But as an instructor it is surprising how often one refers to the Kashria in a class. To a beginner it may appear a seemingly unimportant part of the sword, but as always in sword it pays not miss the detail!
As the student prepares to execute an Iado movement, that is to draw the sword from the Saya and perform a cut all in one movement, the direction and angle with which their Kashira is pointing will determine the flight of this cut, the instructor then knows whether the students cut will be correct before he even draws the sword, thus the teacher will attempt to correct the cut through correction of the Kashira before the sword is even removed.
So to a watchful swordsman the Kashira revels the cut to come, a useful advantage to a swordsman who does not ignore the small things, for he knows it is the detail that reveals the end!
Each small moment is shown to a watcher.
The trembling leaf revealing the wind to come.
A still heron, that a fish lies below.
And a ripple showing the tide has turned.
And to the wise…?