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Thread: Need help buying a sword

  1. #1
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    Default Need help buying a sword

    I just got into iaido and i'm practicing with the dojo's sword. I want to purchase a sword so i may practice at home. The only problem is i have no idea what to look for in terms as a good sword for me. I'm looking for a sword somewhere between $150 - $250 that would be good for a 15 year old begginer. Could anyone give me some links to where to get one that would be good for my situation? Any help is appreciated!!.

    Devon
    Devon Bodak

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    Default Sword Help

    CAS Iberia Hawani (Spelling?) makes the best practicle Katanas. The price is good for the quality and they will hold up well for your life if you are just doing kata, or for a good couple of years if you are doing cutting demo's and competitions.

    http://www.casiberia.com/casiberia/c...cat2=Practical

    The next link I happen to prefer but might be out of your price range.

    http://www.museumreplicas.com/websto...ese_items.aspx

    Keep in mind what you are going to be using it for. I trained with a crappy show peice wrapped in electrical tape and held together with apoxy.

    Only recently did I buy a more expensive one for doing live steel, and I went to a custome sword vender.

    http://www.badgerblades.com/
    Brian J. Balduff

  3. #3

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    Do you need a sword or an iaito (or mogito)?

    Most of the other swords mentioned already may not be acceptable in a legit dojo.

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    I need a pratice iaito.
    Devon Bodak

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    Well, check out Tozando. They have a Basic iaito (I think under their minosaka series) that is under $300. But that's about as low as the prices get. Remember that for formal training in the Japanese arts the quality of the tool is very important. Which is why those swords referenced earlier are really a poor choice for training. A good iaito will still need to have a well shaped blade, decent fittings saya made properly, a tight, clean tsukamaki, etc. Doing those things well will take some time, expertise and will translate into a higher cost. The tozando basic iaito is rather light and not a great piece, but it is about the cheapest thing you'll find that is acceptable by most. If you're short on cash I would suggest just sticking with your bokken longer until you can afford a better iaito.

    Unfortunately good tools aren't cheap. And while there are a lot of inexpensive swords on the market, few in the very low price ranges actually have the qualities needed to be accurate representations of Japanese swords. Save your cash and get the right tool. And ask your sensei first so you can be sure you're getting the right tool.

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    Default Swords

    Keeping in mind that I don't know what you need for an Iaito sword that would make it diferent from a traditional katana, my background is in european swordmanship and all of the links which I posted Make EXCELLENT swords. IE, Swords I would use in a real sword fight and be able to walk out of and use the sword agian. If any one has a couple of links on what is required for an Iaito sword I could give you better advice. If you need a Katana that is made in the traditional way try the Hawani swords, Paul Chen knows his stuff and I have never heard any practitioner complain.
    Brian J. Balduff

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayden
    Keeping in mind that I don't know what you need for an Iaito sword that would make it diferent from a traditional katana, my background is in european swordmanship...
    The first thing is that most sensei will not allow beginners to use a live (sharp) blade, and in many schools a live blade isn't even required until 5th or 6th dan.

    (BTW, an iaito usually -- in fact, almost always -- is a katana, just not a shinken.

    Katana refers to the size, shape, and mounting. Shinken means a live blade, steel and sharp. Iaito/Mogito to most people means a practice sword for iai kata, and the blades are usually aluminum/zinc alloy, but still in katana mount.)

    Now, the Hanwei swords in the upper price range are nice, and many E-budo members use them for cutting and such, but the lower priced models don't fair so well. For the same price one can get a mogito, made in Japan, that has better fit, better fittings, and overall higher quality. And, since they aren't live blades, they can be taken into Japan without jumping through a lot of hoops, should one get an opportunity to travel there for further training.

    As for Museum Replicas; I've seen and handled several of their "Katana" replicas. I would not recommend them for any serious iai/ken student. The fit was poor and the feel was worse.


    Quote Originally Posted by Devaldo
    I just got into iaido and i'm practicing with the dojo's sword. I want to purchase a sword so i may practice at home. The only problem is i have no idea what to look for in terms as a good sword for me.
    My suggestion is to ask your sensei. He or she may know of a good source, and will be the best guide as to the right size and style for you within your system.

    One idea is to look for a good used iaito for now. You might be able to get a used high-end model for the same or lower cost than a new low-end model. Then you can start saving up for a high-end model to get in a few years when you've outgrown this one. Your fellow students might have or know where to get one, and -- again -- your sensei may know of one.

    Other than that, I second the idea of Tozando, and also check out www.bogubag.com. I got my most recent iaito from them, and the price was very reasonable.

    HTH.
    Last edited by Brian Owens; 20th December 2006 at 06:26.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    I asked my Sensei and he is going to talk to me more about it today.
    Devon Bodak

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    About the swords... What Brian said above. Some of the Hanwei stuff is pretty good. But when, where, who, etc. of using a live blade is a tricky question. These aren't toys. They are razor sharp. And most beginning iai students don't start with live blades.

    The low end Hanwei stuff (Paul Chen's company) was made expressly for the segment of the market that wants a functional Japanese style blade but wasn't all that concerned with all those details important for those who train in the arts. Hence the lower prices. As quality goes up for those things that matter to those in the JSA's (better tsukamaki, better shaping, better balance, more attention to detail) so do the prices.

    The Museum Replicas stuff are for hanging on walls.

    The other makers... Well, I have a machete from Walmart that cuts tatami like a laser. Cost me $6.99 if memory serves. And it is still in great shape after years of use in my backyard (although it does have a bit of a patina on the blade). Takes a licking and keeps on ticking as they say. But it is no more an appropriate training weapon for iai than what that other maker has on their site ostensibly advertised as a katana. May be great for cutting stuff up, but there is so much more involved in the traditional art that I wouldn't even know where to start... And I'd rather use my machete anyway.

    And good for you about asking your sensei. That's usually where you should start. Length, weight, balance, style, etc. will all be something some sensei will be very concerned with. If you are on a tight budget you really don't want to buy something only to have sensei say you can't use it...

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    "The other makers... Well, I have a machete from Wal-Mart that cuts tatami like a laser. Cost me $6.99 if memory serves. And it is still in great shape after years of use in my backyard (although it does have a bit of a patina on the blade). Takes a licking and keeps on ticking as they say. But it is no more an appropriate training weapon for iai than what that other maker has on their site ostensibly advertised as a katana. May be great for cutting stuff up, but there is so much more involved in the traditional art that I wouldn't even know where to start... And I'd rather use my machete anyway."


    Preface by saying I am being sincere and not mocking or sniping in any way.

    6.99 Machete
    350.00 Long sword

    Machete cuts tatami like a laser.
    Long sword cuts tatami like a laser, wood like an axe, car body frame like a dull metal shear, cement blocks like a pickaxe, fencing like a wire cutter, stainless steel like a hardy, pig neck like a butchers cleaver, anvils like a chisel, then goes back and does triple cuts of tatami, I have never gotten a quad cut with it but that is by fault of the wielder not the blade.

    I think all in all I got the better deal for my money.

    Ok, now I might be slightly snippy.

    I study Martial Arts. The tools with which I practice are weapons. My soul rebels as the idea that there are people who practice martial arts with what are ultimately (and I mean no offense to those who own them by saying this) expensive paintbrushes. VERY finely crafted expensive paintbrushes but tools to make something pretty none the less.

    Sorry, I can't say more with out being insulting; see you guys in a couple of days.


    Slightly frustrated. . .
    Brian J. Balduff

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    Cheap swords may be sharp and fun, but they arenít save (Iím talking from a JSA perspective). The cheap sharp katana crap you see at your local hardware store are not very well constructed and are an accident waiting to happen. You need quality when practicing JSA, quality costs a lot.

    Devon, I second the suggestions of asking your sensei and the Tozando option. They have great material, it costs a lot more than the PC and Hanwei stuff, but itís high quality. It means you have to save your allowance a little longer. If youíre interested in the Tozando iaito you should subscribe to their mail list. This way you will be up-to-date about bargains or if theyíre having a sale.
    Tijs Dingerdis

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayden
    ...Long sword cuts tatami like a laser, wood like an axe, car body frame like a dull metal shear, cement blocks like a pickaxe, fencing like a wire cutter, stainless steel like a hardy, pig neck like a butchers cleaver, anvils like a chisel, then goes back and does triple cuts of tatami...

    I study Martial Arts. The tools with which I practice are weapons. My soul rebels as the idea that there are people who practice martial arts with what are ultimately...expensive paintbrushes.
    Okay, I'll be snippy too. If you're cutting all those things you name above, then it doesn't sound like "Martial Arts" to me; it sounds like you're hacking at things.

    The reason we need properly constructed swords in the Japanese Sword Arts is because there's more to it than just hacking at fixed objects.

    A sword with an improperly balanced blade, loose tsukamaki, bad mekugi, poorly made saya, etc. isn't fit for use in a proper dojo not because such swords aren't "tools to make something pretty," but because one cannot learn proper technique with them, and because they constitute a real danger to others in the dojo.

    You say you "study Martial Arts." Would you mind stating for us readers what martial art(s) you study, and what your qualifications are? Devon has said he is a new Iaido student, and it would be helpful to know from what foundation your recommendations spring.

    Since I'm asking of you, it is fair to give mine: I have studied various Japanese and Korean martial arts since 1968, including Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate-do, Iaido, and Kenjutsu & Jodo (Seiki Ryu Toho & Jo-no-katachi), and I hold rank in the latter two (a low rank, about equal to 2nd Degree black belt in modern systems), and have taught introductory-level classes with my sensei's approval.

    I respect Keith Larman's opinions, because I know of his work. He is one of only a few sword polishers in the USA whom I consider to be an expert in the field. I don't know of his martial arts background, but I trust his judgement without question based on my prior experience.

    Over to you.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

  13. #13

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    I've worked for a number of years now full-time as a professional sword craftsman. Links to my sites are in my sig at the bottom. Take a look for yourself fwiw. Good, bad, indifferent -- up to you to decide. I prefer to let my work speak for itself.

    I've been doing QC and repairs for Bugei trading as a side-line for a few years now. Designed some new swords for them as well (new Lion Dog Koshirae coming up and one other new one currently unannounced possibly later this year). In doing what I've been doing I've spent a lot of time writing up suggestions, critiques, requests, etc. that are sent to Paul Chen for implementation on Bugei's sword lines. I've also spent years talking with my customers who are high ranking martial artists about what they want and need in their training tools. If I wasn't supplying that I probably wouldn't be working at it full time professionally after all these years...

    Martial arts? Smattering of judo, karate (many moons ago), MJER iaido off and on informally, and then ranked as Sandan in Aikido (Seidokan). Been to more tai kai, token kai, etc. than I can remember. Given a handful of seminars on various things Japanese sword related. Everything from appreciation antiques to proper maintenance of the training tool. And a proud member of the NBTHK American Branch.

    But none of that really matters in the end. The truth is what it is regardless of what anyone says, myself included. And some experience people have already piped up. So either what you believe is true and everyone else is horribly deluded into wasting their money and have been so deluded for decades (centuries?). Or the other possibility is that you don't know enough about what we're talking about to even begin to understand how wrong you are.

    I admit both are possible. But I also know where I'd place my bet...

    You can always ignore those who answered who actually train in the arts and go with your uninformed gut instead.

    That you do not understand why those swords aren't appropriate doesn't change that they aren't. And I was trying to be polite about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kdlarman
    ...a proud member of the NBTHK American Branch.
    Thanks for sharing Keith.

    BTW, while many of us know what it means, for those who don't:

    The NBTHK is the Nippon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai -- 日本美術刀剣保存協会
    (the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords).

    Their Web site is here: http://www.touken.or.jp/
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    My interest in MA started with an intro to knife fighting seminar that I saw when I was 11yo. Shortly after I started taking classes in Shotokan Karate. Money issues forced me to discontinue after less than a year. During which I met several people who where also interested in short blade combat and Historical Swordsmanship. They introduced me to the On Target fencing club who ran a Class at our local YMCA I was involved there for two years before they stop classes due to funding. I have taken classes in Tae Kwan Doe, Kickboxing, Modern Arnis, Small Circle Jujitsu, Tai Chi, Judo, Mantis Kung Fu, and Aikido over the past Seven years. Four years ago I started studying Ryukyu Kempo and Kyusho Jitsu Under Sensei Lynn Carper, Carl Gualt, and John Huffman, Though my job keeps me away from regular classes, I still study in anyway possible, Kata, Books, Vids, Seminars, contact with other Martial Artists, regular exercise, and regular meditation. All of my study has gone into making myself and those around me better fighters with no regard to style or origin

    I will make no argument of the need for safe practice tools. I will however ask: If you need properly constructed swords to practice JSA, then why are you allowed to use Boken?

    My answer is that one needs several different tools to learn different aspects of fighting. A heavy sword or steel bar to build strength and speed, a light sword, boken, or stick to practice precision, a well balanced and sturdy iaito or practice blade to perform kata and techniques, a boken, padded sword, or shinni to practice timing, strikes, and combat, and lastly a functional sword to practice cutting, striking, hacking, holding under impact, and to understand how it feels to use it. In my mind all of these things are pivotal in any type of fighting. In open hand it takes more than a Gi to practice, it takes a heavy bag, a light bag, pads, mats, partners who don't mind being hurt, pain as you have techniques used on you, all of these things are your tools to learn. You use all of them equally. Why discount them for JSA?



    PS, After taking some time off and letting bitterness over the traditionalists vs. modernists debate out of my system I say all of the above with no contempt or mockery or snideness. I hope that we can have a good discussion which we will all benefit from. Also before anyone asks; I mentioned no ranks in any system, nor will I ever, I have never felt more shame than when I look at the pride I felt as I received my yellow belt, it revolted me. Nor have I ever been closer to starting a fight when I was told "after looking at your past experience you could get a green belt with certification if you sign a contract"


    Yours always in learning,
    Brian J. Balduff

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