View Full Version : Shinken for Practice

11th June 2007, 11:12
Hello all,

I was hoping that some of you could offer some advice based on personal experiences on shinken to be used for iai practice. (And yes, before any of you start jumping on me, I have qualified instruction and my teacher's thumbs up to use a live blade :) ).

I've tried searching for reviews on certain forges on the internet, but most of the reviews out there are by non-practitioners, or are heavily based on the blades toughness factor for cutting (sometimes ridiculous) tameshigiri targets.

The blade I'm looking for, first (and perhaps most important) of all, is something in the sub $700 range, heheh. Thus, it probably narrows it down to the production-hanwei-cheness-oni forge-dynasty forge-etc type stuff.

I'm looking for something light and well balanced, with good geometry, preferably shinogi zukuri style with bo-hi. I value the blade's toughness, but I care more about handling characteristics. I'd like the fittings to be decent.

Any suggestions?

11th June 2007, 11:38
Not for that price. I have a few cheaper-end Hanwei cutters, but I'd never use them for iai. The balance is poor, the lengths are fixed (i.e. you may have to make do with the wrong size) etc etc.

My advice? Save up and get what you want, not what you can afford right now.

11th June 2007, 14:21
Peter Boylan at www.budogu.com has been working on getting some decent sharps made for iai rather than cutting, and what I've seen of them, they're pretty nice. I _think_ they start at about $600, but talk to Peter for more accurate details -- you can e-mail him at: peter (at) budogu (dot) com

11th June 2007, 15:07
You might check out the shinken at SDK supplies (http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/cat_chinshin.htm). They are $US729, spec'd out for iai by Kim Taylor, and come in sizes up to 2.8. I've never seen or handled them myself, but I trust Kim.

A.J. Bryant
11th June 2007, 17:36
I believe these are the same swords Peter sells and last I heard, the current price was $699 US through Mugendo. I own several and even had one remounted by a very well-known restoration guy. He said it was one of the best production blades he'd ever seen. I couldn't agree more. The mount is pretty basic overall, but the tsuka-maki are where these swords shine. They have to be pre-made in Japan, then shimmed to fit each sword at the forge. Iíve never seen a sword from China or Thailand with a tsuka this good... Great for iai and the batto models cut like light sabers!

You might check out the shinken at SDK supplies (http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/cat_chinshin.htm). They are $US729, spec'd out for iai by Kim Taylor, and come in sizes up to 2.8. I've never seen or handled them myself, but I trust Kim.

11th June 2007, 22:17
I suggest you check out the shinken www.oniforge.com. My wife & I have been using Loren's blades for tameshigiri for the past several years, & absolutely love them.

One important note: shinken are usually significantly heavier than iaito (steel versus aluminum/beryllium/zinc), so expect your iaido performance to be somewhat different. I have very strong wrists, but can definitely feel the strain when I use my shinken.

11th June 2007, 22:31
Iíve never seen a sword from China or Thailand with a tsuka this good...Got any pics, AJ?

A.J. Bryant
11th June 2007, 23:52
I don't think I could post anything better than what unka Kim has up:


Here's a quick pic of mine from a prior sale of a batto model:


You really have to see one in person and handle it. I would say they're in-line with any quality entry-level iaito tsuka with cotton ito I've come across. Same size, shape, ito tightness and just a quality that ďfeelsĒ Japanese made about the tsuka to me, but thatís just my opinion. The fittings and saya are a bit rough though.

I've handled just about every Chinese made sword out there that is basically worth buying and using. IMHO, if you want what amounts to an entry/mid-grade Japanese made iaito in fit and feel with a sharp blade for $700, these are the swords to buy.

My two cents; others' mileage may vary.

12th June 2007, 05:41
Thanks everyone for your replies!

Seems like a lot of people are pointing towards the same thing, which would be the SDK/Mugendo Budogu iai shinken (which are the same thing, right?).

As far as oni forge goes, does anyone else have experience with these swords for iai? I do understand that shinken are much heavier and feel different (and a LOT better, IMO) than iaito, but are their swords suitable for regular iai practice?

Anybody have experience with Dynasty Forge?

Thanks again!

12th June 2007, 09:50
SDK/Mugendo: Yes, IIRC, yes, they are the same.

I've got one of the early models, it's a great cutter, but a bit heavy for continued iai practice (and the saya wasn't the best either, the interior wasn't finished very well, IMO, and consequently, lots of draw-and-replace ends up with lots of fleck of wood inside).

Em has a later model, with a bohi, that handles very nicely, and while her saya's better, it still needs some improvement. Peter has told me he's working with the guys he gets these swords from to make some improvements.

Andy, who'd you get to refit your blade and what did it cost you, if I may ask?


A.J. Bryant
13th June 2007, 15:00
Hi Chuck,

I sent it off to Fred Lohman. I had purchased the sword from Peter on sale and got a pretty good package from Fred. I think it ended up being in the neighborhood of $1,300 total. Pretty much on par with other vendors that offer a similar type sword with mounting options, but a much nicer "shinken" grade mount over an "iaito" grade one, as would be the case with other vendors, IMO.

12th December 2008, 23:32
Anyone have any leads on a good iaito for about $1000 US? It has to have a tsuba with a crane on it.

Many thanks in advance

Brian Owens
14th December 2008, 08:08
Anyone have any leads on a good iaito for about $1000 US? It has to have a tsuba with a crane on it.

Since you're in eastern Canada, my first suggestion would be to contact Kim Taylor Sensei at Seido Kai in Guelph. His stock varies, but he may have or be able to get exactly what you want.

Here's a link to his company's Website: SDK Supplies (http://www.sdksupplies.com/)

If he can't get what you need, one company I have used with good results is Nosyuiaido/Swordstore.com.

Their 4004-series iaito start at about US$900.00, although they have lower- and higher-priced series as well.

You get to specify the types of fittings, furniture, etc., and you get a semi-custom iaito for a good price.

Here's a link to the selection of tsuba available on their 4004 series iaito; if you scroll down to number 71 (left column, 4th from the bottom), I think it's what you're interested in: Swordstore Tsuba (http://swordstore.com/02pub/0112tsuba-show.html)

BTW, one of their saya choices has a red maple leaf motif. I thought that might be especially appropriate, eh? Saya Selection (http://swordstore.com/02pub/01allsaya-show.html)

Here's the iaito page's link: Swordstore.com (http://www.swordstore.com/cgi-bin/htmlos.cgi/021333.7.5622324273111256203/02nav/0034-main.html)