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Thread: Zhi. Zhang sword Opinions!

  1. #26
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    Hey M.K

    bang on the money there M.K -

    The last pic is of a nambokucho era blade - pic lifted from Aoi Art .

    shame .

    This guy could be the front runner as far as entry level / intermediate katana goes - he's had marvelous feedback here on SFI and offers loads of options .


    a bit concerned about the offer of a spare tsuka complete with fittings for $15, $ 15 doesnt even get you the cheapest sageo usually .

    also - even though I am a honours graduate from the school of Itomaki crap wrap , I am sure you dont wrap the tsuka ito with the whole sword assembled
    and in saya , laid across your knees as Zhi's pics suggest - it would be impossible to have a tight , functional wrap .

    it took me a while to understand and Sean will verify this - but the katana is the sum of its whole parts - only as strong as its weakest link if you like .

    myself and Sean both bought Tony Longs 1st katana , the Diamyo - a wonderful blade , let down by its terrible tsuka and fittings .
    indeed the tsuka was the same as the $15 one Zhi swords offer , same fittings as well .

    You could have a Bugei samurai blade , a work horse of a cutter, beautiful folded blade - but if mounted in a $15 tsuka /koshirea , as a whole it would be a poor sword performance wise due to tsuka failure when cutting .

    just my two penn'th worth

    I missed your last replies guys - Nico mate no ones dissing Zhi at all , we just want to clear a few things up is all , I always say " In all sincerity and respect " and I respect your opinion and your satisfaction with your ZHi sword - its just
    that personally I am curious about the whole 8 step , 12 step polishing offer .

    Sean has given a very favourable review of his Zhi sword and his hilarious washer woman polishing gag is just Sean being
    Sean - Take it from me and M.K - Sean is better placed more than most to be a nihon-to snob , that he is not and can do such a postive Zhi review is testament to the swords worth and Sean as a person - 99% of people with his experience would have just said " this is crap compared to my early koto era nihonto or indeed my Bugei dragonfly" .

    I know costs have to be kept down but when your going to be wielding what amounts to 2 or 3 feet of razor sharp steel at high velocity you need quality there as well

    Mick
    Last edited by michael wilson; 12-17-2006 at 06:29 AM. Reason: missed last reply
    " Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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  2. #27
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    On a lighter note, some of the pics say "copyright Zhisword", but the "stolen" pics don't.. Doesn't make it right, though. Nico, please ask Zhang to stop this foolish thing. He has perfectly good product, it'd be a shame if he fails because of something like this.

    Regarding the wrap, the low-end cotton wrap I have on my spare tsuka is pretty weak, and the koshirae are cheap cast ones. However the upgraded silk ito wrapped on my iaito's tsuka is very tight. You get what you pay for.. unfortunately you have to know that you may need to ask for it (at least on the cheaper swords).

    About the polish, all I know so far is that the last two stages in 12-process polish concentrate on the kissaki (10-process polish skips this if I'm correct)..

  3. #28
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    I havnt spoken with Mr.Zhang, but I think I see what has happened here. The Zhi swords pictured are indeed marked with their name. The true nihonto are not. Why? Because he is comparing his families product, verses the real thing. I still find him to be to honost, and dont believe this to be an attempt at desception.
    I'm expecting mine sometime after Christmas I guess. Should ship on the 20th. I will take the best possible pics I can and post.

    Skip

  4. #29
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    If he is doing that, he should say that out in the ad. On ebay all photos are assumed to be of your product unless you say otherwise.

    It might be a language barrier thing, though. My fiancee's family is from Hong Kong and they sometimes do the darndest things...

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Gardner View Post
    I havnt spoken with Mr.Zhang, but I think I see what has happened here. The Zhi swords pictured are indeed marked with their name. The true nihonto are not. Why? Because he is comparing his families product, verses the real thing. I still find him to be to honost, and dont believe this to be an attempt at desception.
    I'm expecting mine sometime after Christmas I guess. Should ship on the 20th. I will take the best possible pics I can and post.

    Skip
    I must respectfully disagree. The fact that there is a heading that says "Our Craftwork Display" then "Katana Blades" followed by the pictures, and at the bottom , in a red line which makes a box around the pictures "Copyright Zhisword" is shady at best.

    This trickery is unconsciable and the lack of the copyright on the photos themselves is if anything even more deceptive.

    Plausable deniability anyone?

    This does not take anything away from their presumed skill in smithing though. Non of the kats I've seen really appeal to me,but one of those jian is spectactular.

  6. #31
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    I just sent a message to Mr.Zhang. I'm sure he will answer soon. Never takes him to long to reply. Kind of nice that.

  7. #32
    I was going to hold my tongue, but I think this really needs to be said--

    Too many Zhang/Zhi believers, including the new converts, aren't thinking with their brains anymore.

    They want to believe that Zhang is an honest individual who produces quality swords against all empirical and explicit evidence to the contrary.

    If you're reading an essay, and you see that the best passages have been plagiarized, would you still consider the author to be what he or she claims to be?

    Why would you then proceed to maintain the belief that this author is capable of producing excellent prose when so far, he has only submitted to the public mediocre and substandard examples? And especially when that is what he produces (almost exclusively) and in great abundance?

    In an earlier post in the Beginner's forum in October, I asked this question: "Lastly, I find it deeply suspicious whenever someone in Mr. Zhang's position is so insistent on asking people NOT to reveal pictures (when others in his shoes would pay for the publicity). Why??"

    Well, I finally have my answer now. I think we all do.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: "Any respectable smith who is capable of producing custom swords worth $2400 [which is the price for his "high-end" blades] would not need to -- one could argue would not even WANT to -- simultaneously produce items of such low caliber or have his name associated with such junk."

    And now I'll add something else:

    Any respectable smith who is capable of producing fine quality swords and a fine quality polish would not need to -- and still more would not want to -- steal images of work done by another artisan and pass it off as his own.

    I could go on, but I'll stop there.

    Seriously, people. Wake up.
    Last edited by Joo-Hwan Lee; 12-17-2006 at 10:03 PM.
    "It is my feeling that to make a good sword, one must make a weapon first, and art second. But if it is really "right", it is both things at once, and in equal measure." -- Howard Clark

    "I cannot compensate for improper use of a sword. Nothing is bullet proof and idiots prove on a regular basis that nothing is idiot-proof -- they're just too creative." -- Keith Larman

  8. #33
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    Joo, you need to work on your allegories.. And maybe attend an anger management course..

    Seriously though; I agree with the "Any respectable smith who is capable of producing fine quality swords and a fine quality polish would not need to -- and still more would not want to -- steal images of work done by another artisan and pass it off as his own" part, but I'm willing to hear out Zhang's defense, if he has one.

    For clarity's sake, Zhang has only asked not to post pictures of the forging/polishing process b/c he doesn't want competition to get their hands on that material (I don't know if they'd even want to but anyway..).

    As for the "Any respectable smith who is capable of producing custom swords worth $2400 [which is the price for his "high-end" blades] would not need to -- one could argue would not even WANT to -- simultaneously produce items of such low caliber or have his name associated with such junk" part... well, this way Zhang has a helluva lot broader variety of customers which makes him shitloads more money than concentrating solely on high-end products. What better reason is there, anywhere?

    And your essay-allegory.. I got two words for you: "DaVinci Code". Nuff said.

  9. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Qvintus View Post
    Joo, you need to work on your allegories.. And maybe attend an anger management course..

    Seriously though; I agree with the "Any respectable smith who is capable of producing fine quality swords and a fine quality polish would not need to -- and still more would not want to -- steal images of work done by another artisan and pass it off as his own" part, but I'm willing to hear out Zhang's defense, if he has one.

    For clarity's sake, Zhang has only asked not to post pictures of the forging/polishing process b/c he doesn't want competition to get their hands on that material (I don't know if they'd even want to but anyway..).

    As for the "Any respectable smith who is capable of producing custom swords worth $2400 [which is the price for his "high-end" blades] would not need to -- one could argue would not even WANT to -- simultaneously produce items of such low caliber or have his name associated with such junk" part... well, this way Zhang has a helluva lot broader variety of customers which makes him shitloads more money than concentrating solely on high-end products. What better reason is there, anywhere?

    And your essay-allegory.. I got two words for you: "DaVinci Code". Nuff said.
    Timo, telling me that I need to attend an anger-mangement course is insulting and completely uncalled for; if anything it reflects very poorly upon you that you would have to resort to an ad hominem attack. Please don't do it again. I think you read too much into the "tone" of my post and possibly projected your own feelings onto me. The fact that my words may be forceful does not mean that I am angry.

    In any case--

    That this Zhang doesn't want his material posted for fear of competition is utter nonsense (and it was not just limited to forging/polishing process; thus far no informative image of even one of his "higher-end" custom blades has been made public) . Surely even you can see that. How is that in any way compatible with him stealing images of the "competition" (to whom, I assume, he isn't even a blip on the radar) and trying to pass it as his own work? How does that make any kind of sense?

    Isn't it much more likely that he doesn't want "his" work posted for fear of someone (like me) being able to see how the image has been stolen and re-used without permission? Or how more experienced eyes will be able to point out the flaws in his work? What 8-step or 12-step polishing? And what mysteriously different and innovative forging and polishing processes are he using that must be kept secret??

    I think my example of plagiarism works quite well, even if you can't see it. I've already gotten a handful of PM's that agree with me. I don't see how "DaVinci Code" is "Nuff said" but it's such a trivial point that it's not even worth belaboring with you.

    As for me, I think I've done all I can within reason to open some peoples' eyes.

    I'm sure you and the rest of Zhang faithful will continue to believe in his work and make all kinds of excuses for him; and even have faith that excuses for stealing exist (I mean, they must, right? It's "master" Zhang!). I honestly think it's just stubbornness, but that's your right and your business.

    I don't want to waste my time anymore. I'm done with this issue.
    Last edited by Joo-Hwan Lee; 12-18-2006 at 01:53 AM.
    "It is my feeling that to make a good sword, one must make a weapon first, and art second. But if it is really "right", it is both things at once, and in equal measure." -- Howard Clark

    "I cannot compensate for improper use of a sword. Nothing is bullet proof and idiots prove on a regular basis that nothing is idiot-proof -- they're just too creative." -- Keith Larman

  10. #35
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    Sorry Joo, didn't mean to offend you. That's why the smiley was there.. I'd better use [sarcasm][/sarcasm] tags in the future.

    Re the pics.. My father has his own company and he'd be ****ing furious if someone took pictures from his workshop and posted them on the net, even if they would be just welding or stuff like that. As above, I won't comment the stolen pics further yet.

    About this..
    Quote Originally Posted by Joo-Hwan Lee View Post
    If you're reading an essay, and you see that the best passages have been plagiarized, would you still consider the author to be what he or she claims to be?

    Why would you then proceed to maintain the belief that this author is capable of producing excellent prose when so far, he has only submitted to the public mediocre and substandard examples? And especially when that is what he produces (almost exclusively) and in great abundance?
    This allegory doesn't' really make any sense. In this case the correct allegory would be that the text on the back cover of a book would be incorrect. If your allegory would hold true, then Zhang would be selling swords partially made by someone else.. For more on DaVinci Code, see Wikipedia. I think my point is clear enough.

    You didn't comment my reasoning about why Zhang makes low-end products, does that mean you agree?

  11. #36
    Apology accepted. I apologize for my own abrasiveness as well.

    Moving on--

    Clarification: I mean plagiarism in the context of the eBay advertisement. Make sense now?

    As for his making low-end products, I've personally known too many talented and proud artists (including, of course, smiths), visual/performing artists, and composers to buy the argument that he's condescending to make lower-end swords just to make a quick buck -- as an artist. And even a lower-end sword made by a talented smith will still bear traces of his uniqueness and greatness. Even a children's lullaby by Mozart will still bear traces of Mozart's genius and timelessness. So far, all I see from Zhang's lower-end are sub-Masahiro level blades and copied fittings and mediocre/poor mounting.

    Reputation as a great artist (and smiths are artists who produce highly functional art in steel) is earned. In my opinion, even assuming he has the talent he claims, he is undermining his own credibility. Still highly dubious is his secretive forging/polishing method; which implies he has invented it and that it departs significantly enough from already established conventional/traditional practices to merit being a trade secret.

    I would still like to hear what interesting excuse, if any, he will have to offer (beyond pleading ignorance or non-involvement), but really, I don't want to try to convince anyone anymore. Believe what you will and enjoy your swords~
    Last edited by Joo-Hwan Lee; 12-18-2006 at 02:22 AM.
    "It is my feeling that to make a good sword, one must make a weapon first, and art second. But if it is really "right", it is both things at once, and in equal measure." -- Howard Clark

    "I cannot compensate for improper use of a sword. Nothing is bullet proof and idiots prove on a regular basis that nothing is idiot-proof -- they're just too creative." -- Keith Larman

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joo-Hwan Lee View Post
    Any respectable smith who is capable of producing fine quality swords and a fine quality polish would not need to -- and still more would not want to -- steal images of work done by another artisan and pass it off as his own.
    I can understand why Zhang makes all calibers of blades, even if it does limit how well thought of he might be. I've got some friends in China and my fiancee's family is from Hong Kong. I can say one thing about China. It's like being in the US in the 80's except FAR worse. Greed is the one underlying motive of a good large portion of things there.

    Here we have bladesmiths that make good works in order to ahve a good name for themselves, and create a legacy in one way or another.

    There the bladesmiths want a legacy in American dollars. (I am generalizing here, so I'm sure there are exceptions).

    That being said, if high quality will bring in the dollars then he will make high quality.

    As for the stolen pictures... I already have one sword on order with him since September. It's a bit late to cancel it considering it ships in 2 days. I'll get this sword and post a review of the quality of the blade. As for future orders, the would depend on the caliber of answer we get for the stolen pictures. I won't buy from someone that steals pictures... I am going to wait for an official answer. I would ask Nico to post the reply email about the pictures in it's entirety, un-edited so we can all see exactly what the smith has to say. It might be the only chance Zhang has of redeeming his good standing on SFI.

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joo-Hwan Lee View Post
    So far, all I see from Zhang's lower-end are sub-Masahiro level blades and copied fittings and mediocre/poor mounting.
    I think I've asked this before, but have you actually SEEN any of Zhang's swords in person? I do agree, though, that low-end Zhi-swords do not appeal to me at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joo-Hwan Lee View Post
    I would still like to hear what interesting excuse, if any, he will have to offer (beyond pleading ignorance or non-involvement), but really, I don't want to try to convince anyone anymore. Believe what you will and enjoy your swords~
    I want to hear that too. And I will enjoy.

  14. #39
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    Oh golly guys. I do think that a lot goes missing in translation! Remember, Zhang is from an entirely different world. But, I am not trying to make excuses for him. I haven't been able to reach him now for over a week.

    Once I've spoken to him, I will let you all know what he says - un-edited.

  15. #40
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    Wide awake here Joo and using my brain (As we all are)

    -------------

    Inasmuch as passing judgement, favouring, or possessing an enthusiastic perception per Zhi's swords and wares I'd tend to err on the side of caution regarding dismissing his use of pictures as some kind of attempt to possibly hoodwink prospective customers. Unless it can be proven. We know nothing of the original intent behind the use of the pictures, nor how well linked his business is with other - better known - facilities and passing derogatory remarks regarding unproven assumptions could just jump up and bite us on the backsides if the badmouthing is proven wrong, or unjustified.

    I'd gather facts first, because making assumptions without proof can tend to be extremely damaging to a person's business and reputation and it's best to know the FACTS before passing judgement.

    Here's one possible view point.

    In years past, my speciality field of work covered cathedral and high end stone work as a cutter, carver and fixer journeyman stonemason, finally rising to foreman (At a young age) before I chose to join the armed forces. It basically amounted to my travelling around the British Isles through involvement in carrying out work on variously sized contracts encompassing high quality stone work, but I also carried out work on small garden walls, house extensions, etc.. They were smaller budgetted and fairly insignificant works - in comparison to cathedral work and depending upon your perspective - but none the less involving the use of elemeents of my skills as a mason.

    Zhi is basically doing just the same kind of thing. He's carrying out work and filling a niche by utilising his skills and workforce to the benefit of his own business. Some choose to specialise in one solitary area, be it high, middle or low, but he's chosen to cover all bases. It may prove that he's involved in high end work within his own region, but using lower end / beginner blades as a kind of gateway and method of building a customer base in the west. Time will tell, but dismissing his work outright is foolhardy to say the least.

    Better wraps and hardware needed, but a little work (On my part) has certainly raised the blade - in my possession to the next level.
    Careful thought, consideration & communication is well worth the effort and end result.

  16. #41
    Sean, the facts are already there in front of you. You just don't want to see them. This, despite the stolen images being posted under the title in all-caps "OUR CRAFTWORK DISPLAY." Maybe you missed that?

    First, you hypothesized that the stolen images could be well-lit sample shots of Zhang swords. Now, even after their actual origins have been revealed, you still insist that more facts are needed. "Foolhardy," indeed.

    And ironically, immediately after asking for facts, you provide your own speculation about his intentions and business model. You don't seem to be erring on the side of caution as much as on the side of hope and wishful thinking.... As for me, I don't expect much more than a lousy "I didn't put up the ad; my employee/distributor did. He/she has been reprimanded."

    Nothing in Fred Chen/Huanuo's line of swords resemble any of the swords produced by Zhang. Not a single one. One FC "trademark" is their bo-hi termination. The kissaki profiles are also different. I could go on, but suffice to say that I think you're really reaching if you are willing to believe that Zhang could be linked with Huanuo.

    And lastly, I still maintain that a self-proclaimed master-smith's handiwork -- hailing from a region whose sword making legacy stretches back 2,600 years (his words, not mine) and with "several experienced masters who are experts in forging, polishing and engraving" -- should be evident even among his low-end products.

    If you're happy with your sword, that's great for you.
    Last edited by Joo-Hwan Lee; 12-18-2006 at 05:26 AM.
    "It is my feeling that to make a good sword, one must make a weapon first, and art second. But if it is really "right", it is both things at once, and in equal measure." -- Howard Clark

    "I cannot compensate for improper use of a sword. Nothing is bullet proof and idiots prove on a regular basis that nothing is idiot-proof -- they're just too creative." -- Keith Larman

  17. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Stonebridge View Post
    I have no doubt Zhi can craft higher end swords, but the adoption of placing an emphasis on quantity over quality can be a big mistake in terms of the level of craftsmanship necessary for a work team to consistantly forge useable blades. It normally proves best to produce quality and aim for quantity once the team has perfected the relevant process applications than risk one's reputation by purveying a mass of what could be construed as third rate products.
    I thought this was an excellent point.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Stonebridge View Post
    [Zhang could be using] lower end / beginner blades as a kind of gateway and method of building a customer base in the west.
    Bad idea? I think so. Covering all bases? Maybe. Or maybe betting on the fact that no one in their right mind is likely to ask him for a $2K+ blade any time soon~

    By the way, Sean, what kind of yokote was forged into your hira zukuri blade?
    Last edited by Joo-Hwan Lee; 12-18-2006 at 05:43 AM. Reason: Because I can.
    "It is my feeling that to make a good sword, one must make a weapon first, and art second. But if it is really "right", it is both things at once, and in equal measure." -- Howard Clark

    "I cannot compensate for improper use of a sword. Nothing is bullet proof and idiots prove on a regular basis that nothing is idiot-proof -- they're just too creative." -- Keith Larman

  18. #43
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    I'm not trying to pick a fight or any such. I'm honestly just curious as to how Paul Chen, Last Legend, Masahiro and other firms that produce katanas started out... Anybody know?

  19. #44
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    Joo is right in that it does say " OUR CRAFTWORK DISPLAY" right above the
    pictures that are supposedly of their katana blades, but also found on other pages. Is it absolutely certain that these blades have not been made by Zhang though? Perhaps someone had his zhang blade polished .. or maybe another site is using Zhangs picture?

    I'm not taking sides in this - I just thought those points are good to consider. People are after all very statisfied with products Zhang has delivered - if I have understood right, they are better than many more established brands in the same price range.

  20. #45
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    The biggest problem is that people are running Zhang down without even a hint of an explanation from him!

  21. #46
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    Joo,

    I tend to err on the side of giving a person / business the benefit of doubt rather than making the decision to condemn him / her without a given opportunity to provide feedback and explanation. Give Zhi an opportunity to reply and then pass judgement.

    Do you honestly feel it's necessary to act and react in such a condescending manner? I don't wish to have any part in any argument, but such a derisive attitude doesn't suit you or this conversation.

    There are better things to do in life than rely upon wishful thinking regarding something I've no vested interest in and I honestly feel your attitude to others is bang out of order. My main interest lays with high end swords and swordsmithing (As you should already know) and not budget blades. Indeed the only budget offerings in my possession were bought as gifts by family, with one exception being a Tony Long blade. It was picked up due to curiosity.

    Perhaps I should pick up a few Fred Chen, etc., (Budget) blades? Then I'd be familiar with an element which appears to be colouring your judgements.

    Is there anything wrong in speculating possibilities and making an offering as an addition to what's supposed to be a constructive conversation?

    ---------------

    Hi Nico,

    They all basically began at the bottom of the heap and worked upward to reach the point they're at now. Just like any other business.

    ----------

    The kissaki was originally forged in as a chu-kissaki (Rounded fukura), with flat ko-shinogi running parallel to kissaki. Yokote was correctly positioned and adequately polished, but lines had been smoothed out a little and needed re-working.

    ----------
    Last edited by Sean Stonebridge; 12-18-2006 at 07:11 AM.
    Careful thought, consideration & communication is well worth the effort and end result.

  22. #47
    I don't think that my "attitude" is "bang out of order" and I am certainly not being condescending. I am sure that you and others like yourself will continue to read into my words what you will, despite the fact that I have written everything quite calmly and reasonably -- although just because you are frustrated at being unable to respond effectively shouldn't be reason enough to take comfort in accusing me of such things (which is, in any case, quite irrelevant).

    Anyway, your blade is not a hira zukuri. It's a typical shinogi zukuri.

    Also, if I am proven wrong in my opinion about Zhang and his swords, I will be the first to admit it. I have no problem admitting it when I am wrong. I do not think the same could be said for many others in this thread--

    Is there anything wrong in speculating possibilities and making an offering as an addition to what's supposed to be a constructive conversation? No, unless you have a completely different understanding of what "constructive conversation" means. Hopefully you will be able to see that the act of speculating essentially remains same regardless of whether one is defending or criticizing Zhang, except the burden of proof is entirely on the former at this point (and the latter does not have to use nearly as much imagination).
    Last edited by Joo-Hwan Lee; 12-18-2006 at 07:33 AM.
    "It is my feeling that to make a good sword, one must make a weapon first, and art second. But if it is really "right", it is both things at once, and in equal measure." -- Howard Clark

    "I cannot compensate for improper use of a sword. Nothing is bullet proof and idiots prove on a regular basis that nothing is idiot-proof -- they're just too creative." -- Keith Larman

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joo-Hwan Lee View Post
    Hopefully you will be able to see that the act of speculating essentially remains same regardless of whether one is defending or criticizing Zhang, except the burden of proof is entirely on the former at this point.
    Agreed - In my personal opinion its at the least suspicious to use pictures that appear elsewhere, while claiming they are your own. I give Zhang the benefit of doubt because people like his work, but to be honest, even in my unschooled eyes atleast a couple of the images look very different from all his other pictures. Granted, not all pictures need to, nor should look alike, but the contrast is so huge it yells aloud that the picture hasn't been taken by the same person.

    On the bright side, it is good that curiosities (at this point) like this are discovered, and people want to ask Zhang about it. Come on people, atleast we will know the truth, be it positive or negative.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joo-Hwan Lee View Post
    Is there anything wrong in speculating possibilities and making an offering as an addition to what's supposed to be a constructive conversation?
    Well, in your first post in this thread you called Zhang's swords "Bottom-of-the-barrel". There was no speculation, no basis for your opinion, no nothing. And it certainly wasn't constructive. You are a long-time member of SFI and have a high post-count, thus any newcomer might take your word as granted (I know I did when I first came on SFI).

  25. #50
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    472
    Joo, you've made some good points but you also seem to know an awful lot about a brand that you apparently have no personal experience with whatsoever. Since you can get a low-end Zhi so cheaply, why not finally put your money where your mouth is? You can test and abuse the sword as much as you like and when (if) it fails, you will be free to write a review and critize as much as you want.

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