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Thread: Assistance with first katana for tameshigiri

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    2

    Assistance with first katana for tameshigiri

    Hi everyone,

    I've been reading the different threads on this forum doing my best to learn about which sword to get for my first cutting sword for tameshigiri, and possibly for Iaido kata.

    I'm a sandan in Iaido, and I currently have three different iaitos. I use either a Nishijin / Tozando Dotanuki-type iaito (1.1kg~) or a Sword Store 2002, both of which I am happy with. I also have an older hanwei which was my first, which I was never truly happy with.

    The group that I practice with is a small group. The higher ranking students, including myself, expressed interest in doing cutting.

    I am certain I would be happy with a Sword Store steel iaito, but the price tag is a bit much right now, and they take some time to get.

    From what I've been reading here, from a functional standpoint, it doesn't seem like there's much reason to start with more than a Cold Steel Warrior Katana.

    Is this correct?

    I've seen Dynasty Forge and Bugei recommended, but I've not seen any definitive rulings with regards to an advantage in cutting performance. I also started to realize I would likely be better off with one more basic or utilitarian katana for tameshigiri, and then another higher quality one for iaido kata, as I would want some with better fittings for kata. I have plenty of time before my yondan test to get something nice like a Sword Store Steel Iaito as well.

    Thanks in advance for the assistance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tampere, Finland
    Posts
    707
    Hey Mike, and welcome to the forum.

    Well my experience in tameshigiri is very limited as I've only cut with few different swords, well luckily the old gen. Warrior Katana is one of those. Unfortunately all my cutting experiences happened many years ago, so I can't give much up to date feedback.

    In my opinion the CS Warrior is very good sword to start cutting with. It cut very well and was suitable for a novice. I actually cut better with it than with some more expensive swords. You could say the sword fit my cutting style.

    However as that was years ago, and I've gotten more experienced with swords, I've slightly changed my views on Cold Steel, seems that sometimes their products are very good, and sometimes mediocre. I've owned one good Cold Steel piece and one mediocre (neither of them were japanese style though). They make good swords but somehow they don't do it for me, but regardless of my overall opinion on them they are still good cutters.

    Well I recently owned briefly a Dynasty Forge Musha, and I have to say I was pleasantly pleased with the quality of the sword in regards to price. I saw lots of similarities between that and my old Last Legend and Cold Steel Katanas that I've seen, so I think that Dynasty might have relations to Fred Chen (can't remember surely if they do)? Well in my opinion this was nicer than basic Cold Steel swords. I really liked the shape and size of the tsuka, it felt really good in my hands. Much more like an iaito tsuka than the usual cheap production sword tsuka. Didn't cut with the sword but I would dare to say the sword will be good cutter.

    And Hanwei Raptor series is also through hardened like the 2 previous models. I think this series is good for starting cutters too. I like the blades in these but the tsuka, well I'm not really a fan of the thick & large tsuka that lower end Paul Chens have. Also the ito in this is synthetic suede (at least in some models) and I'm not really big fan of that either. I've own few lower end Paul Chen swords over the years and have had some good swords and some mediocre ones.

    These would be 3 choices I would recommend for a novice cutter, all swords are through hardened and in the pricerange of 200-350$. Well there are plenty of other good cutting swords in sub 300$ range too but I can't offer advice on them as I haven't personally seen them. I've seen much good stuff about Ronin Katanas but I haven't seen one in hand.

    And yes I would recommend getting a higher quality sword for kata practice. One that will suit your ideal shinken length. Sure you can do kata with these low-end production swords too but if you have the chance of going with something of more quality for iaido, I would recommend it.

    Hopefully this will help a bit. Others can give more JSA view advice as I'm just a collector.
    Jussi Ekholm

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by Jussi Ekholm View Post
    Hey Mike, and welcome to the forum.

    Well my experience in tameshigiri is very limited as I've only cut with few different swords, well luckily the old gen. Warrior Katana is one of those. Unfortunately all my cutting experiences happened many years ago, so I can't give much up to date feedback.

    In my opinion the CS Warrior is very good sword to start cutting with. It cut very well and was suitable for a novice. I actually cut better with it than with some more expensive swords. You could say the sword fit my cutting style.

    However as that was years ago, and I've gotten more experienced with swords, I've slightly changed my views on Cold Steel, seems that sometimes their products are very good, and sometimes mediocre. I've owned one good Cold Steel piece and one mediocre (neither of them were japanese style though). They make good swords but somehow they don't do it for me, but regardless of my overall opinion on them they are still good cutters.

    Well I recently owned briefly a Dynasty Forge Musha, and I have to say I was pleasantly pleased with the quality of the sword in regards to price. I saw lots of similarities between that and my old Last Legend and Cold Steel Katanas that I've seen, so I think that Dynasty might have relations to Fred Chen (can't remember surely if they do)? Well in my opinion this was nicer than basic Cold Steel swords. I really liked the shape and size of the tsuka, it felt really good in my hands. Much more like an iaito tsuka than the usual cheap production sword tsuka. Didn't cut with the sword but I would dare to say the sword will be good cutter.

    And Hanwei Raptor series is also through hardened like the 2 previous models. I think this series is good for starting cutters too. I like the blades in these but the tsuka, well I'm not really a fan of the thick & large tsuka that lower end Paul Chens have. Also the ito in this is synthetic suede (at least in some models) and I'm not really big fan of that either. I've own few lower end Paul Chen swords over the years and have had some good swords and some mediocre ones.

    These would be 3 choices I would recommend for a novice cutter, all swords are through hardened and in the pricerange of 200-350$. Well there are plenty of other good cutting swords in sub 300$ range too but I can't offer advice on them as I haven't personally seen them. I've seen much good stuff about Ronin Katanas but I haven't seen one in hand.

    And yes I would recommend getting a higher quality sword for kata practice. One that will suit your ideal shinken length. Sure you can do kata with these low-end production swords too but if you have the chance of going with something of more quality for iaido, I would recommend it.

    Hopefully this will help a bit. Others can give more JSA view advice as I'm just a collector.
    Thanks, I appreciate the tips.

    Spending more than $250-$300 isn't a problem. I just didn't want to spend $1500-$2000 on a Swordstore steel iaito quite yet. The Dynasty Forge seem very reasonable, especially if the fittings are of good quality. I searched for some information on them on the forum and it looks like a good choice. I will likely be going with them. It looks like the Bushi class is priced reasonably as well.

    Sorry it took me so long to reply - I did not have notifications turned on and I simply thought no one ever replied.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    The Golden Halls Of Valhalla
    Posts
    301
    There are much better options than a cold steel warrior available for that price point. Hanwei would offer alot more for cutting I believe. To me the warrior, while nice, was a little unwieldy and overpriced compared to other offerings. Dynasty Forge have some really nice cutters as well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Blue Ridge, Texas
    Posts
    1,667
    Avoid Cold Steel as their swords feel like sharpened crow bars. I've heard that Dynasty Forge is decent, but I've never actually had the opportunity to use one of their swords, so I can't say for certain. The Sword Store steel iaito are very nice, but they will bend if your cut is even a little off. So will any of the Hanwei XL series of swords. Make sure that wherever you buy your sword has a good return policy. When buying a Chinese made sword, some are very well done while others, of the same make and model, are total crap. When your sword arrives, take it apart and inspect it carefully from top to bottom. The most common error that I've found is the blade not being properly aligned with the tsuka. This is something that the sword should be returned for as it will affect your practice from that point forward.

    I use a Citadel katana for my daily practice, and most of my tameshigiri also.
    Paul Smith
    "Keep the sharp side and the
    pointy end between you and
    your opponent"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    8
    I love my Raptor (Shinogi Zukuri). It cuts very well, it's nicely balanced, I like the sori and the tsuka really strengthens your hand grip and wrists. I dislike the CS Warrior because it just didn’t feel right when I wielded it.
    That’s just my humble opinion.
    Good luck.

  7. #7
    My personal opinion:
    Cut to cut, the choice is between Hanwei, Cheness, DF, and, all in all, irrelevant.
    Cut to enjoy cutting and katana who wield maybe that Citadel and MAS, between replica, are the best.

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