There are some things you would only expect from superheroes or action heroes; like slicing a bullet in half with a blade. So when a real-life, modern-day samurai does it, it’s certainly worth ooh-ing and aah-ing over. Isao Machii, who has been honing his sword skills since the age of five, is able to slice a pea-sized bullet traveling at 200 miles per hour, fired at him from a BB gun from about 70 feet away, in mid-air.
Isao Machii is now the headmaster of a samurai school, and what a fine example he is for his students. His hand-eye coordination is so precise that it earned him a Guinness World Record. His sword skills are so accurate that he is rumored to be unmatched by any other swordsman on Earth. He recently accepted a challenge from filmmakers, because what he does is impossible to view by the naked human eye. Shot at a firing range outside the hills of LA, Machii’s feat was recorded at a speed 250 times slower than normal with one of the world’s most sophisticated cameras . The witnesses were a filmmaker and Dr. Ramani Durvasula from California State University. Both were stunned to silence the moment Machii’s blade hit the bullet.
The bullet is a tiny pellet, over 4000 times smaller than a baseball. Since the pellet is so small and travelling at such a high speed, a normal person would have no chance of seeing it at all. “I honestly don’t believe I can cut this if it was stationary on a chopping block with a chef knife. He’s going to do it while it’s flying through the air, with a Samurai sword,” says the filmmaker. When the BB gun is fired, it is a matter of milliseconds before the poised Machii makes the strike – and hits gold. “I heard it, but I didn’t see it,” says Dr. Durvasula. On the playback, it’s clearly visible that Machii has managed to nick a piece right off the bullet. Later, the two pieces are found on the ground. According to the filmmaker, a normal person would take 3/10ths of a second just to register the sound of the gun being fired, before they can even start to think about reacting. By the time they move the sword into position, the bullet would have moved past them. Dr. Durvasula says, “This is about processing it at an entirely different sensory level because he is not visually processing it. This is a different level of anticipatory processing. Something so procedural, something so fluid for him.”
Fluid or not, I never thought I’d see the day when a human could actually slice a bullet in mid-air…