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Diane Mirro
18th November 2003, 21:24
I just went to the local martial arts supply store to pick up a couple of cheap bokuto for prospective new students--I've been doing this several times a year for the last four years, since we get a school discount and I can then pass on the savings to the students. We use the standard reddish-brown bokuto with plastic tsuba--nothing fancy, but fine for the first few months of Iaido as well as for Kendo kata. It's actually rather pleasant to chat with the proprietor as I pick through the box and try to find the nicest 2-3 for purchase.

Well, I was unpleasantly surprised this time. Two were nice, and the rest were obviously from a different supplier. They were made very poorly and the tsuka tapered to a nasty ridge at the bottom--almost triangular in cross section. After a few cuts I could tell that it would feel very unpleasant to work with such a sword for any length of time. I showed them to the owner, who was very surprised. She said that they had gotten this shipment from AWMA as usual. So, apparently AWMA has changed THEIR source. I told the owner that I would not be buying any bokuto with such a poor design, and she promised that they will try to find a better source. The two bokuto I bought, by the way, were Century brand--not a supplier I generally patronize. The owner said that they will no longer be carrying Century brand either because Century will soon be selling through Walmart. Go figure--martial arts for the masses...

Kolschey
19th November 2003, 11:32
I have yet to find an AWMA weapon that was worth a darn. I remember a pair of kama where the blades were held in place with aluminum pins. Their sai are hollowcast with all of the weight and balance of a tire iron, and their cutlery is the sort that one finds at a flea market.
Somehow, I'm not surprised that their bokken/bokuto are of inferior craftsmanship. :rolleyes:

The notion of Wal-Mart selling martial arts equipment is just what we need in order to scare legislators after the first summer of inevitable accidents occurs...I can just see the headlines:

Representative Anderson declares martial arts weapons "The most dangerous plaything since lawn darts..."

gendzwil
19th November 2003, 13:54
Diane, you might want to check with Kim Taylor over at SDK supplies. He says he's got a batch of inexpensive hickory bokuto, contact them for bulk pricing.

Jack B
19th November 2003, 14:38
Is your supplier discontinuing Century because of their association with Walmart, or did Century cut an exclusive deal?

Diane Mirro
19th November 2003, 15:05
I'm not sure, Jack...It sounded more like Century wants to get away from dealing with small business owners...

Gee, maybe one day we will have "Karate-mart" super stores in all the major cities to supply the masses with all the gear and the "look" that is most definitely in:

http://media.dsc.discovery.com/convergence/xma/video/katana.html

Start pumping up, folks, your groupies are waiting...

Cady Goldfield
19th November 2003, 15:23
Our local hole-in-the-wall Chinatown MA supply shop has been getting good-quality white oak bokuto over the past several months. They're solid, well-grained and while a bit heavy, are easy to plane down into lighter-weight but sturdy practice bokuto.

The shop used to carry the flimsy red oak bokuto mentioned earlier, but finally seem to be phasing them out in favor of the good stuff. Maybe it's because people like me walk in and buy an armload of the white oak ones for our dojo. ;) The shop owner is starting to get the point that quality sells.

chrismoses
19th November 2003, 15:32
The Fireman's callendar reject is obviously a fake, he doesn't even have love handles or a belly! Everyone knows Gaijin-samurai have receeding hairlines and a pot-belly. Geez, you expect more from the discovery channel...

Cady Goldfield
19th November 2003, 16:39
How can someone so buff... so...so.... half-nekkid... so SINCERE looking... blow so very, very much with a sword? And, to have the complete lack of awareness of this fact, to the point that he will demonstrate it on television, no less?

Wow.

gendzwil
19th November 2003, 16:49
I dunno, you see a lot of buff, sincere looking people on websites everywhere doing crappy martial arts. This guy is just going to get laughed at by a bunch more people (or worse, taken seriously).

FWIW I know a few kendoka who are pretty ripped, and quite a few who aren't. Doesn't seem to be much correlation between that and skill :)

Cady Goldfield
19th November 2003, 19:03
Originally posted by gendzwil
FWIW I know a few kendoka who are pretty ripped, and quite a few who aren't. Doesn't seem to be much correlation between that and skill :)

Apparently there's not much correlation between that and skill in iai either, based on that MPEG. :laugh:

gendzwil
19th November 2003, 19:12
Based on that one sample plus Rick Tew's vids, I'd say there's an inverse correlation.

Ralutin
20th November 2003, 15:07
Never knew iaido was considered an "Xtreme" martial art. You gotta love all this slick Hollywood marketing of martial arts. :mad:

Chidokan
20th November 2003, 17:57
thanks for the best laugh I've had for ages...I now know who the instructor is for 'Kill Bill' and all those other movies that use a grip based on baseball bats...My 'first week at the dojo' students can do better than that after two hours training...Jeez..
looks like all my gi will have to go though...otherwise people wont believe I teach iaido properly...:D :D

Excel Glenn
21st November 2003, 15:54
Right above is an advertisement for The Last Samurai and a contest to get "real" martial arts instruction from an "expert."

:rolleyes:

Nsherrard
24th November 2003, 08:04
That's my favorite part of iai; returning the sword to it's place of peace. Mmmmmmm...*drool* place of peace....

glad2bhere
24th November 2003, 12:37
Dear Diane and Cady:

My favorite supplier is a smaller local Chicago resource and the turn-over in his inventory is expectedly slower. Good teacher that I am, though (:-)) I always keep my eye open for quality deals. I have to tell you that things seem to be slipping pretty badly of late. The stainless steel swords continue to become more garish and more bizarre as time goes on while "expendable" like juk-to-s seem to become more flimsy and of poorer materials. We don't use armor or foam pads but I wonder if these, likewise, are being made of poorer quality? My muk guem of some 15 years is beginning to show signs of wear and I have a reasonable replacement in one that I bought some time ago. However, if I had to go out and buy a decent sword in this day and age I would be hard pressed. The SWORD FORUM INTERNATIONAL has the occasional ad for someone who will make a muk guem to specs---- for a price. I suspect that in the end this may be where we are headed. People who want to practice legit and traditional arts will be required to find their own custom equiptment as part of the responsibility to training. Thoughts?

Best Wishes,

Bruce

Brian Owens
24th November 2003, 20:22
Originally posted by Cady Goldfield
The shop used to carry the flimsy red oak bokuto mentioned earlier, but finally seem to be phasing them out in favor of the good stuff.
True red oak bokken can be good. But the price won't be much different than white oak.

Most of the inexpensive "reddish brown" bokken out there are not red oak; they are a light, porous, "Asian Hardwood" (to qoute one ad I saw) stained and varnished to cover their poor structure.

Cady Goldfield
25th November 2003, 16:04
Thanks, Brian. I stand corrected and enlightened. Those flimsy red bokken at the "Marshul-Artz-'R'- Us" shop are indeed some brand-x wood, not real red oak. I've seen red oak, and you're right, this ain't it. The label just says it's oak. But, come to think of it, where the heck would they get red oak in Taiwan...? ;)

The white oak bokuto for $14.95 or cheaper is the best deal that's come to town here. We plane them down to lighten them -- they are way too bulky and heavy the way they are made -- but after that, they're just right for training.

Bruce,
There is no end to the crap that can be cranked out in the shape of a sword, eh? :)

Daniel san
25th November 2003, 17:19
Originally posted by glad2bhere
People who want to practice legit and traditional arts will be required to find their own custom equiptment as part of the responsibility to training. Thoughts?


Plant some trees and buy a chain saw. I have a small oak grove going on over here. They are just barely saplings. When they have grown just a little taller I will put fishing line attached to a weight for a little bend. With the proper maintenance and care I will have about a dozen of approximately equal size in a year or two. And hey, it's free.

Daniel san
25th November 2003, 17:19
Originally posted by glad2bhere
People who want to practice legit and traditional arts will be required to find their own custom equiptment as part of the responsibility to training. Thoughts?


Plant some trees and buy a chain saw. I have a small oak grove going on over here. They are just barely saplings. When they have grown just a little taller I will put fishing line attached to a weight for a little bend. With the proper maintenance and care I will have about a dozen of approximately equal size in a year or two. And hey, it's free.

Daniel san
25th November 2003, 17:19
Originally posted by glad2bhere
People who want to practice legit and traditional arts will be required to find their own custom equiptment as part of the responsibility to training. Thoughts?


Plant some trees and buy a chain saw. I have a small oak grove going on over here. They are just barely saplings. When they have grown just a little taller I will put fishing line attached to a weight for a little bend. With the proper maintenance and care I will have about a dozen of approximately equal size in a year or two. And hey, it's free.

Chidokan
26th November 2003, 20:25
AAARGH!! a keyboard frenzy by Daniel san!!:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: How long do they last? Do you dry out the wood etc?
I like making bokken, its a quick and cheap way of getting exactly what you want, instead of a random piece of painted warped softwood coming through the post...

Brian Owens
26th November 2003, 20:51
Originally posted by Chidokan
...I like making bokken, its a quick and cheap way of getting exactly what you want...
Yeah! And you can perfectly match the length to your opponent's sword.

Now, can anyone direct me to Ganryu Island?


Miyamoto Musashi
as channeled by Brian Owens :D

ulvulv
26th November 2003, 21:07
Originally posted by Daniel san
Plant some trees and buy a chain saw. I have a small oak grove going on over here. They are just barely saplings. When they have grown just a little taller I will put fishing line attached to a weight for a little bend. With the proper maintenance and care I will have about a dozen of approximately equal size in a year or two. And hey, it's free.

I reccommend putting on tsubas already. then you are guaranteed a tight fit, and wont have to bother with tsuba- dome.:D

Richie112
26th November 2003, 21:12
You could even start a line of Bonsai bokken for the verticaly challenged :D

Daniel san
26th November 2003, 21:17
Hello,
This is my first attempt at cultivating my own bokken. In the past I have noticed some things about bokuto that led me to this option. They tend to be made in a different climate, which leads to checking and warping upon arrival. Pre-painted bokken can hide defects that are truly dangerous in practice. I fell out of a tree procuring my last stick. I'm fine and I'll do it again, but it gave me the idea to just plant a bunch of acorns and see what I can make(at ground level). If I treat these things with the care and attention of bonsai they won't develop protrusions that will affect the integrity of the finished piece. The fishing line and weights will require some serious tinkering I imagine. Any hints from Heloise would be appreciated.

Chidokan
1st December 2003, 20:58
I'm curious as to how you get the kissaki...is it a subtle tying off after each day, slowly increasing the tension until it falls over naturally?:D