Batto is the art of cutting with a sharp (or "live" blade) sword on a bamboo, straw or tatami mats that have been soaked in water for several days. The cutting is done at a pre-determined angle and the wet straw or mat simulates the resistance of a human body. This technique is similar to Iai-Do where form is practiced without actual cutting. Students of Batto practice form, accuracy and timing to increase skill and strength.
The sword was originally used for killing people, but after 14th century the Shogun Ieyusu Tokugawa created the EDO era. During his control of Japan, peace was restored, and therefore, the use of the sword changed from killing opponents and protecting oneself and others to saving people, and as a mind and body exercise. In that way, it changed from a killing sword to a living sword.
After World War II, Kendo and Iai-Do changed to more of a sport which led to a few problems, since the philosophy behind the training is that without the true feeling of the art, the sport is no different than playing baseball or running. The way of the sword is much more valuable than that. The way of the sword is clearly understood as "live or die", therefore, the art of true cutting is the center of Kendo & Iai-Do. Practitioners of Kendo (bamboo fighting or fighting with no partner) and Iai-Do (cutting in air) cannot realize the true feeling of cutting. One only realizes this experience from Batto-Jutsu.
Accomplishing good cutting form does not depend necessarily on size or strength, but rather technique and speed. Men, women and disciplined children may learn the art. Since the sword is a very sharp weapon, beginners must learn the fundamentals before doing any actual cutting. Practice swords or "Bokken" are used until a certain skill level is achieved. Training in Batto-Do with a real sword requires a focused mind, a well-conditioned body, and a balanced spirit. All this control is learned through the practice of Batto katas before any cutting is attempted. Safety is strictly adhered to in Batto classes.