In several posts I’ve mentioned issues with cutting in “HEMA,” generally with regard to two ways in which it’s misused. On the one hand there is too much focus on cutting through a target and not enough on how one cuts, never mind the appropriateness of type of target. On the other, cutting practice as litmus test for a person’s readiness for tournament participation is a false positive—the ability to cut a mat doesn’t mean one has what it takes to bout safely. They can correlate, but are not the same.
Jay Maas of Broadsword Manitoba raises similar issues in his latest video (cf. https://youtu.be/VwuCkJaXrs4). It will upset those who fail to understand what he is saying and why it matters, but then that’s HEMA. As Jay makes clear, there are reasons to include it as part of one’s practice, but this should include an understanding of how it is useful and how it is not.
Cutting is fun, another point Jay makes, and that alone is one reason to do it (with full recognition of safety issues and with appropriate protocols). It can also be a good check for one’s cutting mechanics, but it is just one way, not the only one. Practiced without awareness of the pros and cons, included inappropriately, cutting will—as Jay cautions make one a poor fencer.