View Full Version : A quick question about Shureido Sai

23rd July 2015, 08:21
Hello everyone,

I've been a lurker here for a while, and suddenly find myself in need of a little advice.

I've been using a pair of cheap sai for a while, and recently ordered some Shureido sai. They arrived today, and feel dreat...but....I ordered 'natural steel', and was surprised (dismayed!) to see that they have a black coating on them. The site I bought them from insists that 'natural steel' sai ARE black. That seems really counter-intuitive to me, but then I saw "Available in natural (black) or chrome" on the shureido USA site (http://shureidousa.com/kobudo/sai.html (http://shureidousa.com/kobudo/sai.html)).

A part of the coating is already flaking on the butt of the handle ( 10858 here you can see the REAL natural steel underneath the coating).

I don't really want to kick up a fuss about this if the sai are the 'natural steel' I ordered. Since I know sai do lose flakes (not necessarily on the side of the butt though :nono: ).

Can anyone tell me if shureido natural steel sai SHOULD have this coating?

Any help would be much appreciated.


Brian Owens
23rd July 2015, 10:43
Yes, they should be coated. Unfinished steel will rust readily, and the coating prevents it. When it flakes off you can refinish it with any good black paint, even sanding it completely and totally refinishing if you want. Refinishing chrome, on the other hand, would not be a DIY proposition for most people.

24th July 2015, 11:08
Okay thanks, that's reassuring...If I don't like it once it gets all flaky, I'll just sand it off. Strange that it should rust...Lot's of other weapons and tools are made of steel and don't have coatings (can't imagine a black coating on one of my knives ;).

Brian Owens
24th July 2015, 19:41
It depends on the type of steel (stainless, high-carbon, etc.), and also I'm sure it's mostly a matter of aesthetics; a black sai probably sells better than a "plain" one.

I'm with you, though; I'd sand it down and just oil it from time to time like I do with my other steel tools.

5th August 2015, 02:11
Thanks Brian, As I see it, looking after your gear is part of getting to know it properly, but I'm sure you're right...I guess plain steel isn't flashy enough for some people ;)

25th August 2015, 21:28
You don't have much choice. Very few sai are available that do not have that big round bulge where the yoku meets the monouchi. My old sai are not Shureido and they are properly constructed but I that is rare. I don't even know what brand they were. I got them at a MA supply store in St. Louis. Shureido is getting to be the only game in town. If anyone know where you can find real sai these days with the exception of Shureido that would be cool.

27th August 2015, 04:49
Unless Shureido has changed its nomenclature, natural steel should be black with no plating. It may have a black coating of some sort, though. Depends on when they were sourced.

Last time I ordered Shureido Sai in the US, the standard (not special order) sai came in natural, chrome plated or stainless, in small, medium and large. Shureido in Okinawa has or had more sizes, and weights.

The natural will rust. the black coating was put on to inhibit rusting. Without proper maintenance, they will rust.

27th August 2015, 19:45
Other than those already discussed Kensho International is one of the newer players on the scene.

1st September 2015, 11:03
Okay thanks for the info everyone,

I've taken off the coating, but left it on under the grip (which is the part of the sai that will be most in contact with sweaty hands and the most difficult to look after) where I can't see it anyway.

Yes steel DOES rust, but that is no different from my homemade arrow points and my knives. I think looking after your gear is an important part of any activity, and I like the idea that now I don't have to warry about my sai getting 'scratched', 'losing chips' etc.

I saw one sensei recommending using a bare metal grip..on the grounds that nothing can go wring with it when you need it. Once you're used to it, you're set!


Brian Owens
2nd September 2015, 19:32
...I saw one sensei recommending using a bare metal grip..on the grounds that nothing can go wring with it when you need it. ...thoughts?

Hayashi Teruo had wrapped grips on his sai (at least during the times that I saw him demonstrating); that's all the "endorsement" for one versus the other that I would need.

2nd September 2015, 20:56
Bare iron is a common reccomendation I've heard in Matayoshi Kobudo circles. Nishiuchi Sensei has recomended this a lot. Grips are fine unless they come loose during use.

2nd February 2016, 23:00
Perfectly normal. Here are some natural Shureido from about 1981.


They have a little more black coating on them these days, but they were never bare metal. And yes it flakes off, and it really doesn't matter. They age pretty nicely.

Liam Cognet
15th June 2016, 23:48
test post test post

Brian Owens
16th June 2016, 00:45
test post test post
Test post received and acknowledged. (You may want to re-load your avatar, though. It's scrambled on my end.)

29th January 2019, 15:47
Hello again everyone! Wow..four years gone by since I asked the question in the original post.

The strange thing is, in the time since I got these sai, I somehow drifted away from using them, ending up using a cheap beat up pair with a bulge (the ones I didn't like, and the reason for me buying the new ones 😕 ).

I just thought about this, and realised that it's because the balance on the Shureido ones seems awkward! The cheapo ones are an inch shorter...but I'm not sure that's the problem.

The Shureido sai seem slower when I flick them in or out (but better in everything else!)

Can someone tell me where the point of balance is on their sai? Mine is equal to the tip of the guards (are these points the Tsume?!). I wonder if closer to the moto might be better...

29th January 2019, 22:38
Balance point is a personal thing. I'll check a few Shureido sai when I get home and report back. I've used standard small, medium, and large Shureido sai, and find the small size have the best balance out of the box.

I've also a pair of medium Shureido sai with thinner shafts that I special ordered from Shureido Okinawa. Other than these sai, my "go to" Shureido sai are medium size carbon steel with a black coating. I removed a bit off the tip, tweaked the yoku and shortened the tsuka to size, and had a different butt welded on. After that, I filed down each of the flats of the shaft until I had the balance that suits me best, then applied gun blue. Expensive Sai when you consider my time...even at minimum wage...

30th January 2019, 18:14
Lol...Yes I know THAT feeling of working for pennies/hour even on Sundays!

Okay thanks for that, glad to know I'm not committing some kind of heresy by taking about fiddling with them. It's like a LOT of things, one you start writing on something, it really becomes your own.

30th January 2019, 20:07
Working on *

31st January 2019, 19:29
I checked the balance point on three Shureido sai, one medium standard, one medium old fashioned and one large standard. All had a balance point approximately one to one and a quarter inch forward of the point where the shaft meets the yoku.

31st January 2019, 20:17
Thanks for that.

And these sai feel fine for you?

I'll go and compare with mine.


1st February 2019, 17:33
Yes they do.

1st February 2019, 17:53
right...mine are at two and a half inches. Luckily they are slightly long, so that looks like an easy solution.

Thanks for you help!

3rd February 2019, 17:58
Thanks chunmonchek,

I took about 1.5 inches off...they end right at my elbow now, the balance point is just short of 1.5 inches.

What a difference that inch makes! So much sweeter!


4th February 2019, 18:40
I'm glad everything worked out with your modification.