A Robot Challenged a Sword Master to a Battle of Blades
A Robot Challenged a Sword Master to a Battle of Blades

Robot Beats Japanese Master Swordsman : Isao Machii

The samurai of old are widely regarded as being among the best warriors that ever lived the earth, and with good reason. Although those days are long gone, the Japanese people are still keeping their traditions alive to some extent, which is why you can still see sword masters wielding katanas even today. However, times are quickly changing and it seems that even the most skilled human swordsmen around have a hard time competing against the samurai robot built by Yaskawa. If you’ve been paying attention to the latest technological advancements you probably already know that highly advanced humanoid robots are still several years away, however, the samurai robot in question doesn’t actually need a full body because it can apparently outperform a sword master with just one arm.

Who is Isao Machii? – Modern Day Samurai

Born on August 20th, 1973, Isao Machii is a Japanese Iaido master from Kawanishi, Japan. He holds six Guinness World Records for his katana skills. Isao Machii first became known to the world when he obtained a record for the most sword cuts to a tatami mat sitting alone on the ground without a mat stand.
This practice is called Suegiri, and it requires a perfectly even, extremely fast cut as to not knock the tatami mat over. In 2004, Isao cut a standalone mat 7 times before it fell to the ground. This almost superhuman act took an extraordinary amount of skill, that which has never been surpassed. That is, aside from by Isao himself, when 11 years later he cut a standalone mat 8 times without it falling over. Isao’s first record would only be the beginning of his legacy

Isao Machii created the Shushin-ryu Iaijutsu style which stems from iaido, a traditional Japanese sword-drawing martial art. The techniques in Shushin-ryu arise from situations where two swordsmen are facing eachother but are not yet in combat. He now runs his own dojo and practices the art of the sword daily while passing on the ancient tradition to his students. He aims to test the limits of what a modern samurai is capable of. Isao stated “I see Guinness world records as a way of securing my legacy. They verify attempts with strict rules, very fairly, independently, and officially. It is a great way for me to have my name go down in history around the world”

In 2007, Isao Machii, who started learning the way of the sword at age five, would obtain his second Guinness world record when he achieved the fastest 1,000 sword cuts. Isao managed to perform 1,000 rolled straw mat cuts in 36 minutes and 4 seconds. In other words, that is 1 cut every 2 seconds for over 30 minutes straight, an almost unbelievable feat.

Four years later, Isao Machii surprised the world when he made 252 cuts to straw mats in three minutes and secured his third world record. That is almost 1 and a half cuts every second, not to mention each cut has to be executed correctly to cleanly cut through the mat, which is said to have the resistance equal to a human limb. Each mat was cut anywhere from 5 to 10 times by Isao.

A Robot Challenged a Sword Master to a Battle of Blades

So far all of these records sound extremely impressive, but within the realm of possibility for a master swordsman. Though what Isao does on June of 2013 can hardly even be explained. As he stares down the barrel of an airsoft rifle, he prepares himself to cut a BB pellet fired towards him at 158 km/h. With his sword still seated in his scabbard, the gun fires and Isao draws it and cuts in one fluid motion, which splits the pellet in two in what can only be described as pure instinct. Any normal human would not even have time to react to the bullet being fired before it passed them, let alone draw a sword and make an attempt at cutting it.

Isao cutting a BB pellet in half with his katana

Isao’s most recent record came in November 2016 when he performed the most sword cuts to straw mats in 1 minute. He achieved an astounding 87 cuts, or 1 and a half cuts per second. Not only does he have to cut cleanly through each mat, but the rules require him to cut between four small sections of 15cm outlined on the mat. This takes both skilled precision and extreme focus. This marked the sixth record that Isao Machii has achieved relating to sword arts.


Expert Swordsman Isao Machii takes on Fruit Ninja in REAL Life at The Grove in Los Angeles.

If there ever were to be a “Modern-day samurai”, it would be Isao Machii. This skilled swordsman’s legacy will surely go down in history and inspire many people to continue to learn and pass down the art of the sword and the way of the samurai.

In what the company calls the Yaskawa Bushido Project, Machii went through a number of traditional Iaijutsu challenges as a sensor-studded suit tracked his movements. The MH24 Motoman manufacturing robot monitored and copied every bit of his posture, form, and gesturing, from his arm and sword placement to his head and leg position..

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