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Thread: Phil Hartsdale

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2000
    NYC, NY, USA
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    Greetings Sensei,

    I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Phil Hartsdale over the years, and I am curious as to how your relationship with him started. Would you please explain how and where you met him and how did you become involved with his skill and craftsmanship?

    I would also like you to provide a frank critque of his wares.

    Thanking you in advance,

    Tom Militello

  2. #2
    Obata T Guest


    Long ago, Phil Hartsfield-san called me and asked if he could meet me.

    He came to my house and brought his wife. He said that he made swords that weren't really considered Japanese swords, but they were sharp and strong. He asked if he could make my swords. During that time, I had done many demonstrations.
    He probably saw me at one of the demos. Maybe his customers had taped my Tameshigiri. I really do not know why he contacted me.

    He said that he saw many people do Tameshigiri, and he thought that my Tameshigiri was the best he'd ever seen. About 2 months after we talked, he phoned me and said that "the sword" was ready and he brought it over.

    I was surprised and I asked him what I should do with it! Should I do an advertisement or something for it, or sell it? He said that it was his honor just to have me use it. I was surprised, and also felt honored.

    I remember when I had won the All Japan Battodo Championship, A Mr. Murakami (an Iaido practitioner) gave a
    sword to me in recognition...this happened to be his family treasure!

    In any event, I had received several swords while living in Japan. But this was the first sword I'd received from an American that I didn't even know. I was very honored. When I test-cut his swords, they were really strong and very sharp.

    Then I understood, that some people in America were not all about business and money. Back then, Mr. Hartsfield was not in the sword association, so he received many complaints about his work. Since I was independant also, he encouraged me by saying that I shouldn't allow myself to "lose" to any critism.

    A good sword should not break, bend, and should cut well. It should be balanced well and be beautiful to behold. This is a real swordsman's spirit.

    International Shinkendo Federation,

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