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Thread: Looking for a Katana with no animal derived components

  1. #76
    Quote Originally Posted by Smood R. View Post
    Although this is a nice sentiment it is again the height of hyperbole. If I read all the books and watched all the DVDs about samurai swordsmanship in the world, I think I would gain quite a bit more than 1 lesson from a master. Do books/dvds replace formal training? No. But are they useless/meaningless? No. Lets not all get out of hand here with our hyperbole.
    I agree with you however i would have worded it differently. Your idea of 'gain' is probably different to mine. To me gain means to progress from your current point. You learn from your mistakes. Without someone there more skilled than yourself, to correct those mistakes, you yourself cannot do it as if you knew you wouldn't have made the mistake in the first place. So you can't progress as smoothly. Books and DVD's can teach you the basics, but there comes a point when you hit a wall (like myself) and cannot go any further without instruction. My wall is now at proper form, silent and mat cuts. So you could class that as 'hard targets'.
    Training is also a fast track way. Eventually, if you are intelligent enough, you will work out what you were doing wrong. But it will take 10 times longer than a teacher showing you straight away. This also prevents you teaching yourself bad form and bad habits, which is then even harder to un-teach yourself. So its a long long road by yourself, most people in today's society would never have the time for that.
    Last edited by George Wright; 02-25-2012 at 04:23 PM.

  2. #77
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    Well this is all about cutting, and nothing animal free in this post.

    First of all it's impossible to tell what kind of bamboo people are cutting in videos, as I believe bamboos vary a lot in hardness, thickness and probably in many more aspects too.

    Some small diameter decorative bamboos can easily be cut with a knife, I know since I've cut few of them just for fun.

    I've seen videos of where bamboo is cut with huge force and where bamboo is cut by only tiny snap of the sword. It depends...

    That longsword vs. katana video is just pure rubbish in my mind. (I don't get any more into that matter)

    As far as force is concerned in cutting, you can cut many things with pure force only, just watch CS testing dvd (darn that makes me flinch). What is more necessary than force in cutting is motion. Well it's impossible for a beginner like me to explain it but as was taught in seminars that all body must do the cut not just the hands. When you have your whole body behind the cut you need very little power with your hands. The motion and sword will do the cutting instead of you forcing the cut with power by hands only.

    As for cutting with katana, almost all the power should come from your body and left hand while right hand only guides the cut (someone more experienced in JSA can explain that better). Now in many cases of backyard cutting the cutting is made by "brute force" so that hands generate all the power in the cut making it sort of like baseball bat swing. When you combine very sharp object with big amount of force you get a combination that will cut.

    The problem I believe many cutters seem to have is that they use too much force. That makes the cutting kinda reckless, as there is huge momentum moving the sword that is not easy to control. That is a scary situation where the sword is in control and not the man wielding it.

    Maybe that last post of mine was bit too pro-backyard cutting, but it still had bit sense to me at least. All the thoughts don't always translate clearly enough to foreign language. The main point in that was cutting is for everyone.

    Not knowing where you live I would still advice to at least visit a club that teaches swordarts (if possible). The sensei would most likely be very helpful and who knows if you catch yourself a new hobby there. While formal training is not requirement for cutting it makes it a lot easier and safer. Mr. Birch and Mr. Wright made a good points there how a teacher can easily correct things by watching by side when you cut. It's amazing how well they can "fine tune" your doings and the outcome is great cut, that you most likely would never get by just practicing by yourself.

    I tend to draw a line between cutting and "destructive testing". There are objects that are just not wise to cut with a sword in my opinion. Some make videos where they cut these things in marketing purposes to show how "great" that product is.

    Ps. Always cut away from your leading leg.
    Last edited by Jussi Ekholm; 02-25-2012 at 04:24 PM. Reason: George was faster so I had to fine tune a bit.
    Jussi Ekholm

  3. #78
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    First, I would like to second this comment on Jussi's post. Cutting can be a very useful part of training in a sword martial art (hitting a pell, too; together, these are similar to bagwork and breaking in striking martial arts). And cutting for the sake of cutting is different from cutting as martial arts training.

    Second, a question for Smood: Why a katana? You don't have training in a Japanese sword art, and don't appear to have strong plans to train in a Japanese sword art, especially not before cutting. So why a Japanese-style sword in particular? It's the rayskin on almost all non-bottom-end Japanese-style swords that really restricts your choices.

    If you're prepared to go non-Japanese, there will be many more options. There are plenty of non Japanese-style swords that will cut comparably with katana, or potentially better: dao (one-handed, hand-and-a-half, two-handed), the right kind of jian, Viking swords, cutting-oriented medieval European swords, plenty of Malay-Indonesia-Philippines blades, kilij, shashka, shamshirs, and more.

    For sub-$300 non-animal off-the-shelf choices, there are the Kris Cutlery willow-leaf dao (DAO-IV) and oxtail dao (DAO), most stuff from Traditional Filipino Blades (I don't know if any of their swords have horn handles; if it isn't specified as wood, you should ask), the Kris Cutlery kampilan, the Hanwei dadao (the older red-handled one; it has a synthetic scabbard, I think, but you should check; the newer brown-handled one has leather wrap and scabbard), various dao from all over the place (Zhisword has some nice dao at $299, but their $99 dao works too - but you would want to use epoxy or epoxy putty to get a close fit between handle and tang; it can be a bit roomy in there).

    European swords will tend to have leather-covered grips or scabbards. I can't think of any off-hand that are animal free and in your price range. Albion does bare blades for under $200; these will give you a sub-$300 sword. For a little more, there are some non-animal Del Tins (e.g., Celtic anthropomorphic, some metal-hilted Migration/Germanic swords, Mac-bible choppers), and perhaps Albion can do a squire line sword with a cord-wrapped grip instead of leather.

    The Cold Steel Grosse Messer and Talwar are non-animal swords, but have leather covered scabbards.

    Some of the Weapon Edge swords have synthetic grips and metal scabbards. Not sharp, but can be sharpened.

    And that's only looking at traditional blades, not modern "tactical" swords.

    Plenty of choice if you go non-Japanese.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  4. #79
    Quote Originally Posted by c birch View Post
    Good lord, I should clarify my statement, those swords would "snap like twigs"in my own inexperienced hands against bamboo. As far as brand they are hanwei katanas I no longer own. This being my last post in this thread, I would suggest going to Bugei's forum and asking the exact same question and see what you find there-
    Chris
    I apologize if I offended you, thank you for your contribution to this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen View Post
    First, I would like to second this comment on Jussi's post. Cutting can be a very useful part of training in a sword martial art (hitting a pell, too; together, these are similar to bagwork and breaking in striking martial arts). And cutting for the sake of cutting is different from cutting as martial arts training.

    Second, a question for Smood: Why a katana? You don't have training in a Japanese sword art, and don't appear to have strong plans to train in a Japanese sword art, especially not before cutting. So why a Japanese-style sword in particular? It's the rayskin on almost all non-bottom-end Japanese-style swords that really restricts your choices.

    If you're prepared to go non-Japanese, there will be many more options. There are plenty of non Japanese-style swords that will cut comparably with katana, or potentially better: dao (one-handed, hand-and-a-half, two-handed), the right kind of jian, Viking swords, cutting-oriented medieval European swords, plenty of Malay-Indonesia-Philippines blades, kilij, shashka, shamshirs, and more.

    For sub-$300 non-animal off-the-shelf choices, there are the Kris Cutlery willow-leaf dao (DAO-IV) and oxtail dao (DAO), most stuff from Traditional Filipino Blades (I don't know if any of their swords have horn handles; if it isn't specified as wood, you should ask), the Kris Cutlery kampilan, the Hanwei dadao (the older red-handled one; it has a synthetic scabbard, I think, but you should check; the newer brown-handled one has leather wrap and scabbard), various dao from all over the place (Zhisword has some nice dao at $299, but their $99 dao works too - but you would want to use epoxy or epoxy putty to get a close fit between handle and tang; it can be a bit roomy in there).

    European swords will tend to have leather-covered grips or scabbards. I can't think of any off-hand that are animal free and in your price range. Albion does bare blades for under $200; these will give you a sub-$300 sword. For a little more, there are some non-animal Del Tins (e.g., Celtic anthropomorphic, some metal-hilted Migration/Germanic swords, Mac-bible choppers), and perhaps Albion can do a squire line sword with a cord-wrapped grip instead of leather.

    The Cold Steel Grosse Messer and Talwar are non-animal swords, but have leather covered scabbards.

    Some of the Weapon Edge swords have synthetic grips and metal scabbards. Not sharp, but can be sharpened.

    And that's only looking at traditional blades, not modern "tactical" swords.

    Plenty of choice if you go non-Japanese.
    Firstly your assumption that I do not seem to aspire to have formal training in Japanese swords arts is incorrect. At the moment I am a full time student and am often away from home so time for proper training is almost 0 at the moment. In the near future after I complete my studies this will change. I think my desire to at least read about japanese history and sword arts while I am away from home partaking in my studies shows my dedication to this field of combat.

    Secondly, I prefer Japanese sword arts and swords. The Katana is my favorite type of sword and thus I aspire to have one and use one.

    I have come to the conclusion that as a first sword the Hanwei tactical Katana will serve me well. It has no animal fittings, seems strong (monotempered), comes from a well respected production sword maker and is relatively inexpensive. Now its just a matter of finding the best price.

  5. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smood R. View Post
    Firstly your assumption that I do not seem to aspire to have formal training in Japanese swords arts is incorrect.
    "Aspire" is not "strong plans". If you are really planning to train, there is an argument to be made that you should not do untutored cutting beforehand, as you'll learn all sorts of bad habits that you'll have to unlearn later. I don't agree with this argument, but I think that it's worthwhile paying attention to form, to cutting without trying to muscle through the cuts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smood R. View Post
    Secondly, I prefer Japanese sword arts and swords. The Katana is my favorite type of sword and thus I aspire to have one and use one.
    A valid choice. Do you want a katana, or a sword that only looks like a katana? That is, is it important to you that it handle like a "real" katana? Like a "good" katana? Just another question for you to consider, though perhaps it can't have much impact on your choice of first katana, with the very restricted options available (beyond DIY).

    Don't believe stories about all "real" katana being alike - there's a lot of diversity. But there is something to be said for having a "typical" sword, especially if you only have one sword. How katana-like in handling the Hanwei tactical is, I don't know. If reviews say it's very un-katana-like, I wouldn't buy it as a katana. YMMV.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  6. #81
    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen View Post
    "Aspire" is not "strong plans". If you are really planning to train, there is an argument to be made that you should not do untutored cutting beforehand, as you'll learn all sorts of bad habits that you'll have to unlearn later. I don't agree with this argument, but I think that it's worthwhile paying attention to form, to cutting without trying to muscle through the cuts.

    A valid choice. Do you want a katana, or a sword that only looks like a katana? That is, is it important to you that it handle like a "real" katana? Like a "good" katana? Just another question for you to consider, though perhaps it can't have much impact on your choice of first katana, with the very restricted options available (beyond DIY).

    Don't believe stories about all "real" katana being alike - there's a lot of diversity. But there is something to be said for having a "typical" sword, especially if you only have one sword. How katana-like in handling the Hanwei tactical is, I don't know. If reviews say it's very un-katana-like, I wouldn't buy it as a katana. YMMV.
    With all due respect I will not refrain from cutting anything before receiving formal training to do so. I respect your experience and knowledge but this is not a plan I wish to partake in. Any bad habits I develop from cutting light targets will have to be unlearned upon partaking in formal training. Although I suspect my form will be better due to my readings and study of the pictures and videos associated with Iaito then someone who does not care to read or view anything and simply goes in the back yard to do some slashing.

    Secondly I am looking for a production Katana that feels like a true Katana and handles like a true Katana. I think the tactical Katana will be somewhat lighter than the average Katana but I think it will suit me well.

    Could you be so kind as to show me the reviews in which people say the tactical katana is very un-katana like?

    Thanks!

  7. #82
    I have seen a great review on the Hanwei Tac and they gave it a great write up. Nothing about it being a non-katana. Just smaller, thinner and lighter.

  8. #83
    Quote Originally Posted by George Wright View Post
    I have seen a great review on the Hanwei Tac and they gave it a great write up. Nothing about it being a non-katana. Just smaller, thinner and lighter.
    Ya I think I saw the same review. They mention due to the lightness the point of balance is moved closer to the hilt and is almost at the habaki. But I was looking for a lot of reviews to see what the negative things people say about it are and I could only really find a lot of reviews about the tactical wakizashi which people really love. Can you link me to that review George just in case its a different I haven't seen?

    But please let me know about these reviews you are talking about Timo. Thanks.

  9. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smood R. View Post
    Ya I think I saw the same review. They mention due to the lightness the point of balance is moved closer to the hilt and is almost at the habaki. But I was looking for a lot of reviews to see what the negative things people say about it are and I could only really find a lot of reviews about the tactical wakizashi which people really love. Can you link me to that review George just in case its a different I haven't seen?

    But please let me know about these reviews you are talking about Timo. Thanks.
    I didn't say there are any such reviews. As I wrote, I don't know about its handling. Either first-hand, or second-hand. If reviews say such-and-such, I'd pay attention to it. If there are no such reviews, what can be said? Perhaps you can write the first?

    I haven't looked at many reviews on the tactical katana - I'm not planning to buy one in the near future - but I haven't seen any that say anything meaningful about its handling in the context of it being a katana. Given that the tactical wakizashi seems to have a point-of-balance too close to handle authentically, I'd look for some comments on this before buying. Again, YMMV.

    Also, there is little choice, given your constraints, and this might be the best of the known-big-brand-name, non-animal, sub-$300 katana, non-differentially-hardened, without any customisation or modification. So even if it is less-than-optimal in this regard, it might still be an excellent choice for you.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  10. #85
    PM'd you that review Smood

  11. #86
    I just browsed through this thread and I'm not sure what the topic really is now. Just to help with the original post traditionalfilipinoweapons.com has, what seems to be a katana with no animal parts, though not explicitly stated. The koiguchi looks like steel and there's no same, so everything seems to be synthetic except for the saya. You can try contact them, but Ive been hearing some good reviews about their blades on other forums.

    http://traditionalfilipinoweapons.co...%20Katana.html

  12. #87
    Quote Originally Posted by Smood R. View Post
    With all due respect I will not refrain from cutting anything before receiving formal training to do so. I respect your experience and knowledge but this is not a plan I wish to partake in. Any bad habits I develop from cutting light targets will have to be unlearned upon partaking in formal training. Although I suspect my form will be better due to my readings and study of the pictures and videos associated with Iaito then someone who does not care to read or view anything and simply goes in the back yard to do some slashing.

    Secondly I am looking for a production Katana that feels like a true Katana and handles like a true Katana. I think the tactical Katana will be somewhat lighter than the average Katana but I think it will suit me well.

    Could you be so kind as to show me the reviews in which people say the tactical katana is very un-katana like?

    Thanks!
    Your form will be no better than the back yard samurai no matter what the amount of reading you go through. I guarantee it.

  13. #88
    We will see.

  14. #89
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    I also second the opinion that bad habit is very difficult to unlearn. I also will say that you cannot learn from video and book. There is no way for you to know when you made a mistake (more likely many mistakes), even if you have a mirror to look at yourself. People often think that they see something when it is in fact something else entirely. Swordsmanship is complicate stuff. You will need a qualified teacher.

    If those of us who have instructors sill make mistakes despite having watchful instructors who scrutinize our every move, what make you think you can do better without one?

    But if you insist in ignoring people who have formal training; you are free to travel down the path of most resistance. You will be the one paying the price for your mistakes, not us.
    Last edited by M. Phan; 03-18-2012 at 10:34 PM.

  15. #90
    Quote Originally Posted by M. Phan View Post
    I also second the opinion that bad habit is very difficult to unlearn. I also will say that you cannot learn from video and book. There is no way for you to know when you made a mistake (more likely many mistakes), even if you have a mirror to look at yourself. People often think that they see something when it is in fact something else entirely. Swordsmanship is complicate stuff. You will need a qualified teacher.

    If those of us who have instructors sill make mistakes despite having watchful instructors who scrutinize our every move, what make you think you can do better without one?

    But if you insist in ignoring people who have formal training; you are free to travel down the path of most resistance. You will be the one paying the price for your mistakes, not us.
    You sound like I am going to war in Sengoku period LOL. I'm not ignoring people. I suspect you have not read this thread sufficiently to understand my perspective.

  16. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smood R. View Post
    I'm looking for a Katana with no animal derived components (like silk or bull horn etc..)
    What's wrong with silk? It's a byproduct and feels really nice on the hands.

    As for your options, There's a sword on Kris Cutlery's site (the 26 and 29 II ) that might fit the bill. If you call or email them and ask, it would be the easiest way to see if there is any same under the wrap. I know that Cecil was not using animal products for a while because of his own personal beliefs, so you might find something good there.

    As for reworking a Cheness shirasaya, if they make their shirasaya similar to their tsuka, it's just routed out and jammed onto the nakago.
    I like swords.

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  17. #92
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    You may also try looking here for ideas on how to customize your sword. Henry Ahmu was a great person and had some really nifty ideas and plans.

    http://www.geocities.com/custom_tsuka/index.html

    I thought he had an explanation of his cord wrap he used instead of same, I'll have to check around SFI and see if I can find his posts on it...
    Last edited by Jeff Ellis; 03-21-2012 at 01:33 PM.
    I like swords.

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    If you want to climb a mountain, begin at the top.

    "Integrity, justice, courage, and action - without these, a person is of no consequence." - Don Nelson

    learn the way to preserve rather than destroy.
    avoid rather than check, check rather than hurt, hurt rather than maim, maim rather than kill.
    for all life is precious, not one can be replaced.

  18. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smood R. View Post
    As for cutting I plan on Thick bamboo and basic things like light bottles etc. I do not have formal training but I have studied techniques from various books (including Flashing steel: Mastering Eishin-ryu swordsmanship).
    Smood,
    I'm currently not training, but Flashing steel doesn't teach you how to cut.

    Shimabukuro Sensei and Pellman Sensei did not intend the book to be anything other than a study guide to help you with your lessons and training in the Jikishikai's version of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Pellman Sensei states this in his classes.*

    I can also assure you that Suino Sensei never intended for you to learn anything about cutting from his book, he is clear in his classes and seminars that the books are there to help you, not teach you.

    All three of these men are training in Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Suino Sensei is not part of the Jikishinkai and does things differently, so training from many books is probably not the best idea because certain things are done certain ways because certain things lead up to them..*

    There is a disclaimer printed right in the books that they are not to be used to teach yourself in case you end up breaking your sword on a target and killing yourself or someone else.*

    Where are you located? I'm sure we could help you find a dojo nearby.
    Last edited by Jeff Ellis; 03-21-2012 at 02:52 PM. Reason: thought twice, then went with my original thought.
    I like swords.

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    avoid rather than check, check rather than hurt, hurt rather than maim, maim rather than kill.
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  19. #94
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    Henry used nylon cord in his string wraps, could it have been similar to kite string?. I remember those well as I was really young then and had no access for same and when I saw those... I kept trying with (white) nylon, wool, silk etc. cords and threads but didn't get any good results.

    I believe that hemp might be one of your best bets. Although I've been trying to get my hands on some hemp cloth here in Finland and it's hard to find and expensive. If you'd fine good quality hemp cloth you could wrap it around the tsuka like full same wrap. There is also tsukamaki style called Kojidai Asaito Makiage Zuka, it's a hemp wrap (with cord). Although it's traditionally applied over rayskin but I guess you could apply it straight onto woodcore (provided you have thin cord it could be applied in similar way as mr. Ahmu did his nylon wrap). Then do another round of tsukamaki on the style you like over it.
    Jussi Ekholm

  20. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jussi Ekholm View Post
    Henry used nylon cord in his string wraps, could it have been similar to kite string?. I remember those well as I was really young then and had no access for same and when I saw those... I kept trying with (white) nylon, wool, silk etc. cords and threads but didn't get any good results.
    I think it was cotton. Cotton that was coated in ca adhesive or some sort of sealer.
    I like swords.

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    If you want to climb a mountain, begin at the top.

    "Integrity, justice, courage, and action - without these, a person is of no consequence." - Don Nelson

    learn the way to preserve rather than destroy.
    avoid rather than check, check rather than hurt, hurt rather than maim, maim rather than kill.
    for all life is precious, not one can be replaced.

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