Holding the Long Sword

Grip the long sword lightly with your thumb and forefinger, with the middle finger neither tight nor slack, and with the last two fingers tight. It is bad to leave slack in your hands.

When you take up a sword, you must do it with the intent of cutting the enemy. As you cut an enemy you must not change your grip, and your hands must not flinch. When you dash the enemy's sword aside, or ward it off, or force it down, you may only change your thumb and forefinger a little. Above all, you must grip the sword with the intent of cutting the enemy.

The grip for combat and for sword-testing is the same, you always grip the sword as if you want to kill a man.

Generally speaking, stiffness is to be avoided, in both sword and hands. Stiffness leads to death. A living hand is flexible. [Another possible reference to Lao Tzu] You must bear this in mind.