Machii Isao is an Iaido master and an expert sword wielder.  He holds five Guinness World Records including “fastest 1,000 iaido sword cuts (36 min 4 sec)” and “most iaido sword cuts to one mat” (8), but you might know him as the real-life “fruit ninja” if you saw some of his stints up on YouTube, including slicing a BB pellet in half as it was fired towards him at 200 mph.

It’s a rare sight indeed to see such a massive display of both showmanship and art. But what happens when you pair a world-class swordsman, like Machi Isao, with an industrial robot, like MOTOMAN-MH24. Well, I won’t bore you with too many details, but suffice to say we’re in for quite the show.

samurai bot


Of course, the two didn’t battle each other, but competed in Iaido tests like cutting mats and flowers in various cross-sectional directions. A highlight was when the robot horizontally sliced string beans measuring just 1cm in thickness!

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At the end, the ultimate test unfolds: the famous 1,000 iaido sword cut challenge. Ultimately, both man and machine end up victorious, leaving behind a litter of straw and sweat as a testament to the very first “Senbongiri battle between the pinnacle of robotics and the peak of humanity.”

It was no easy feat to program the Motoman-mh24- – a high precision industrial robot developed by one of the leading Japanese corporations in the field, Yaskawa. First, a 3D motion-detection suit strapped to Machii’s body recorded every breath and subtle movement of the sword he made.

These same movements are then inputted into the robot’s memory, which acts as a mechanical copy cat — quite similar to the robot chef we mentioned earlier on ZME.  Secondly, giving a freakin’ samurai sword to a robot can be dangerous.

The katana used by the bot was a high-quality blade from the Edo Period personally selected by Mr. Machii. Quality or not, that didn’t stop the bot from breaking a sword or two. Maybe that’s why the cameraman had to wear an armor and helmet at all times.

Scene from the making of. Image: YASKAWA BUSHIDO PROJECT

Scene from the making of. Image: YASKAWA BUSHIDO PROJECT