But I think you and Graham are missing a critical point here. Swords have tsuba in "real life" and some techniques utilize the tsuba as part of the waza. Saying it is lazy or going too fast or sloppy *totally* misses the point and is frankly ignorant of the variety of things done in various sword arts and styles.
Keith, I know what you are talking about. I've done a bit of Itto ryu, I watch friends practice Jikishinkage ryu, and Saotome Sensei will every now and then dig out some aikiken waza that calls for entering, catching your partner's blade on your tsuba, unbalancing and throwing them.
it did not sound to me as though Joe was referring to techniques that actually use the tsuba though, it sounded like he was talking about techniques where your target is your partner's wrist, and the tsuba is being used to prevent the technique.
if you are practicing a technique where you cut the wrist or fingers or what have you, and your partner is relying on their tsuba to prevent their hands from getting broken, I don't understand what you are both trying to learn there. Uke is not letting tori learn how to hit the target, tori is hurting uke when he successfully performs the technique. Its a lose-lose situation there. I can't believe that's actually what's happening.
But still, if you are trying to learn how to use a tsuba, then they are appropriate.
If, however, you are relying on a tsuba to prevent your hands and fingers from being hurt during sword practice, then you are training badly. Get kote or hockey gloves or something.