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Thread: The Next Super-tana?

  1. #26
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    I have an itching suspicion that if the blade does perform as well as James claims (and I no reasons to doubt him) then this would be then next biggest thing since Howard Clark's mastery of L6 for his blades.

    However, I do suspect that the process required to produce such a blade will well exceed the costs of their top of the line blades. Considering supply and demand, I would be surprised if such sword were sold at $3000 USD or less.

    Is suppose we will find out sooner or later.
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  2. #27
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    I hope they can keep the price down.

    speculation but at $3k, I'd rather save a little more for a custom or look for a decent antique.

  3. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by J. Pitts View Post
    So..... a modern heat treated steel that can resist bending, has a beautiful hamon and can resist corrosion.........
    Also, it glows when orcs are nearby.
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  4. #29
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    Ha...I didn't think of that one
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  5. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Min Lee View Post
    I hope they can keep the price down.

    speculation but at $3k, I'd rather save a little more for a custom or look for a decent antique.
    I think that way as well. If this chinese production katana is $3k+ I would consider saving a bit more for an antique. I could also buy several descent production swords with that money.
    If you believe everything you read, better not read. Japanese Proverb

  6. #31
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    it's funny how quickly people have forgotten that hanwei *already* makes a l6 blade they purport to have a martensitic edge and a bainite body. there are plenty of other steel/heat treatments they could make, and i'm sure none of them would be any more expensive than the l6 blades they offer.

    when all is said and done, though, it's almost embarrassing to watch people clamor for this kind of thing. can we say "fad" class?
    les yeich (pronounced yike)

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  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by les yeich View Post
    when all is said and done, though, it's almost embarrassing to watch people clamor for this kind of thing. can we say "fad" class?
    If it's embarrassing to watch them, you could always choose civil inattention by averting your gaze.
    "Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,
    And asks no omen but his country’s cause."

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  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry G. View Post
    If it's embarrassing to watch them, you could always choose civil inattention by averting your gaze.
    in order to do that, i'd have to skip about 75% of all the threads that have anything to do with japanese-style blades. where's the fun in that?

    there's nothing wrong with wanting the toughest blade; i've been in that boat myself. but to hop from fad to fad, completely forgetting the last fad. . . it's reminiscent of much less rewarding hobbies.
    les yeich (pronounced yike)

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  9. #34
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    I think it's cool to see the developments. New models, new materials, I find it neat.

    I wouldn't part with my Barrett katana for the world, but I think it is really cool that companies out there are making decent products available for people who want to practice the arts or collect the weapons without making several thousand dollar commitments.

    There's some pretty bold statements being made by a guy who really seems to know what he's talking about. I know James Williams has handled a wide variety of swords, so seeing him talk about this one as he has is pretty exciting for me.

    There's a difference between a fad, and some real tangible improvements in technology, material, or methodology. From what I understand, well executed L6/bainite is pretty awesome and I'd love to have one of Mr. Clark's blades some day. If this coming piece is at all favorably comparable to that, that is a neat accomplishment. If anything, I would call production "tamahagane" a fad, but thats just me.

  10. #35
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    i'm specifically referring to the fact that people seem to have already forgotten that hanwei *already* makes an l6 blade. it's like past accomplishments have fallen by the way-side, because this- *this*- blade is the new thing to have. that is a fad. i would bet most people who really rabidly follow or defend this blade, are *never* going to buy one themselves.

    i've always respected james williams. i have no doubt he knows what he's talking about. but keep in mind he is the main proprietor of bugei. nothing against bugei; i've owned a few bugei blades- all second hand- and was exceptionally pleased with them. however, it seems these are an up and coming part of the line-up, and i'm sure the wait for pictures is due in part to building up the suspense. in james' defense- not that he needs any- the "unveiling" was specifically on the bugei forum.

    from a personal standpoint, i've had the luck to cut with quite a few blades, from production to custom. ultimately material has very little to do with how the blade performs. the best cutters i've had the pleasure to use were not "super katana" by any means. they were properly balanced, well-shaped swords that had been made to exacting standards. furthermore, it was actually handling both 1086 and l6 blades from howard clark that made me order a 1086. . . i knew *i'd* never break it. kind of like the brief backlash against 1050 a few years back. everyone started saying how the edge was so much softer than higher carbon steels like 1075. yes, this is true, but having actually cut extensively with custom blades from both materials, i can conclusively say that the difference is not going to come out in regular cutting. we're talking obviously negligible differences from a user's standpoint.

    ultimately most people really dedicated to advancing in this hobby( and by that i mean learning about the blade- why they are how they are and how various aspects might benefit the sword- rather than buying progressively more expensive blades) lose the enthusiasm for so-called "super katana". it's just. . . pointless. *shrug*. totally subjective, of course. a blade can only do so much, though. it only realistically can expect to see so much use, in any case. talk to a smith or anyone who has done true destructive testing with a variety of materials and heat treatment methods, and you'll see pretty quickly that a "normal" katana- meaning not "super"- made with proper shaping and a good heat treatment will do *way* more than most people think. it takes a *lot* to kill a good sword, and probably very few buyers will *ever* put their blades through the kind of abuse that would make such a "super katana" necessary. the only time that super materials are going to come in handy is in the hands of a really, *really* bad cutter.

    that said, i'm interested to see the new blade myself. sounds like a fun project. it's an interesting niche, but expect copycats very soon, and expect people to clamor for the copycats just as avidly.
    les yeich (pronounced yike)

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  11. #36
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    I'm guessing you've witnessed this cycle repeat itself more than a couple times, eh, Les?

    What...1095...9260...L6...don't believe the hype?
    "Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,
    And asks no omen but his country’s cause."

    ---The Iliad of Homer, Book xii, Line 283


    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner; Liberty is a well-armed lamb."
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  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry G. View Post
    I'm guessing you've witnessed this cycle repeat itself more than a couple times, eh, Les?

    What...1095...9260...L6...don't believe the hype?
    Where's 1050 (KC) and T10?
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  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Qvintus View Post
    Where's 1050 (KC) and T10?
    Hahahaha...I haven't been around long enough to know precisely where they or 5160 should fall on the continuum.
    "Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,
    And asks no omen but his country’s cause."

    ---The Iliad of Homer, Book xii, Line 283


    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner; Liberty is a well-armed lamb."
    ---Benjamin Franklin

  14. #39
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    i've seen this *plenty* of times.

    monosteel (no one could believe the nerve)
    swedish powdered steel
    a2 (remember phil hartsfield?)
    5160 (probably kc started this one)
    1050 (mostly custom)
    higher carbon steels like 1095 ("1050 is *way* too soft!")
    t10, 9260, and of course through out it all, l6.
    name a material, it was hyped at one time. nothing wrong with that, but come on. . .

    when all is said and done, very few people *actually* end up going for the hype blades, unless they're dirt cheap, until they've really been proved on the market. and that's because they're typically just fantasy blades, really. remember just a few years back when mas came out with l6 blades, and no one could believe that they might have bainite and martensite? and then more recently hanwei did the same? how many people on the forum have actually gone out and got one? more have gotten them from mas, but i've only noticed a very few that have gotten them from hanwei. basically because when all is said and done, by the time you save up that much scratch, and are willing to invest that much (and we're still talking much less than a typical custom blade) you've learned enough to want other features than "indestructibility". we see way more people going for folded blades from df or like blades/sellers. in all honesty, who here partaking of this discussion are *actually* going to buy one? the funny thing is, everyone i can think of that bought the oni from hanwei, was quick to resell it. they were all pleased with the purchase, but just wanted something more.

    again, i'm not in any way *against* this niche; if i had money laying around burning a hole in my pocket, i'd definitely pick one up myself. for people that consider this a big investment, though, the only real market for blades like these is with people who have money to burn, or else maybe actual martial artists who are cutting enough to really want that toughness. the average backyard samurai will never- and i mean a pretty conclusive *never*- need that sort of blade.

    of course, i have no doubt bugei is going to deliver big time with this sword. but take a few things into consideration; how much is it going to cost? if it's more expensive than other blades from bugei, wouldn't you want to go with one of their powdered steel (another fad when it was introduced) blades? we all pretty much know that they're tried and true blades. i can't recall any real blade failures from bugei, so are we to assume that the new material in some way makes a vastly superior blade? i know i for one would feel very strange if i had two blades from bugei, one folded and one the new super steel, and they cut more or less as well as one another, they both retain a good edge and don't bend with bad cuts, yet one is visually more traditional (i'll go ahead and say more pleasant, without having seen the new blade) *and* cheaper? without purposefully abusing the blade, where's the advantage of the super steel?

    heck, let's make that a point of discussion, because i'm interested in opinions; where's the advantage of super steel katana?
    Last edited by les yeich; 02-05-2009 at 10:39 AM.
    les yeich (pronounced yike)

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    einsam unerreicht werden wir sein.
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  15. #40
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    my intrest

    Les,

    I would say that MY intrest in it is strictly from a metallurgy standpoint. I am no swordsmith by any means but I am interested in exactly what this variant is and how it performs. That being said I DO agree with you in the fact that I like Bugei's more standard line and find that they perform just fine. I owned a Shobu which I adored and I am saving for a dragonfly right now which i will be very excited to get. I guess beauty IS indeed in the eye of the beholder and I rather eye the steels and designs of an older generation. Your insight , however, is refreshing.
    E TAN, E EPI TAS

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by les yeich View Post
    heck, let's make that a point of discussion, because i'm interested in opinions; where's the advantage of super steel katana?
    Awesome!

    Well, from what I've been able to read, resistance to stresses and corrosion seem to be the two big advantages.

    Ultimately, the two very bad things that can happen to a blade are it can break, or it can rust, right? Any improvement that makes damage from physical or environmental stresses would seem to me to be a good thing.

    If the price point is reasonable, I'd probably end up picking one up. I love my custom katana, but it would be nice to have something I can take on the road with fewer anxieties. Since it will probably end up being sold through Bugei, I am pretty confident it will be mounted up in a manner appropriate for my stuides.

  17. #42
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    I think it is a good thing , and in spirit with the constant improvements and innovations made by the Japanese smiths over the 1000 years...

    For appreciation I really like a more traditional sword , but for cutting I won;t be happy until I have a real lightsaber... or maybe Thundarr's sword....

    BTW, I think Les is right, the average sword user will never need mor performance than a through hardened Oni Forge or Dynasty Forge blade provides...

  18. #43
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    1045, 1050, 1060, 1075, 1086, 1095, A-2, W-1, W-2, 5160, L-6, Tamahagane, Orishigane and whatever other steel is just that really. Without a successful heat treatment all of this is just scrap at the end of it. And even though steels like A2 are air hardened, good Phill still has quite a following of his own. I bought a few of his kozuka neck knives only because he was really my first experience in this hobby before even hearing about and meeting Bob Egnath.

    I remember back in the day when going above 1050 or 1060 was unheard of at the time because of the carbon content and the fear of the blades being too brittle. That just seems like old news these days since 1095 is used a lot.

    Fact is that all of the blades listed above have had there time in the spotlight as the latest steel to go to. There was even a time not long ago where even having a 1086 or L6 was the new fashion trend that was driving everybody crazy.

    But back to Les's point of what is the advantage to the super steel katana? The answer is nothing really if you are not going to learn how to use it in a dojo setting under the supervision of a good teacher.

    Steels considered at this time to be "super steels" like L6 are more forgiving on bad form, hasuji, distance and everything else in between.

    This fad of having an indestructible blade will never go away because there will always be a new steel to excite everybody, and a company to push it. But in the end, everything breaks, chips, loses its edge and rusts.

    Good form first, and then any steel listed above coupled with a good successful heat treat will serve you just fine.

  19. #44
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    great points, all. being interested in these sorts of blades from a metallurgy standpoint or simply appreciating constant innovations, are both really good reasons to be interested in the latest fads. in all honesty i feel "fad" might have a bit more of a negative connotation than i intend, but depending on who we're talking about, it's appropriate. think "fan boy".

    but to reiterate a point, there's only so much a blade will ever be exposed to. mark and i are pretty much always on the same page on issues like this, and he's done enough cutting with different blades to have reached the same conclusion i have. actually, a through- hardened 1050 blade is as tough as probably any backyard samurai could want. they're *really* tough.

    if you're actually after a "super katana", then in my book you're going into that territory where traditional aesthetics are maybe sacrificial. i am excited to see the new bugei blade. specifically for the corrosion resistance. if i were specifically on the market for a tough blade to abuse, though, than i would go for something cheap with a good reputation. i've purposefully destroyed several blades, and done cutting with custom blades that others might cringe at, so i'm not gonna lie, if i picked one of these up, i'd beat the sh*t out of it. but then i would have made a big investment purely for destructive testing. not too smart, huh? so if i'm *not* going to abuse it, then why get it over one of their standard line?

    as far as the price. . . well, that's subjective. if it were over $2k, then it would be scratched from my list immediately. you can pick up an oni (i still haven't seen any intensive testing of one, but they're l6 with a bainite body and martensite edge. . . they're tough i'm sure) and have it customized for around that price- point. this hobby is constantly changing and evolving, and i just think it's very important to keep an open mind, but think things through before going off half-cocked, as it were. i've just seen it many times, where someone bought something for hype reasons, and then started looking around at other stuff and realized they probably would have been happier with something that maybe didn't promise the moon, but was well-made, aesthetically pleasing, etc.
    les yeich (pronounced yike)

    helden wie wir sterben doch allein,
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  20. #45
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    another issue i'd like to address, and it's purely subjective, since none of us can really *truly* get in the mind of a samurai.

    i often see in relation to topics like this "if the samurai had this available, they would have *loved* to have it!" or something similar.

    i think history shows us pretty conclusively that samurai and the japanese in general (at the time) were *very* resistant to change. even if they miraculously had super katana available, they probably would have passed them up in favor of traditional nihonto. they would cite their esteemed ancestors who fought valiantly with the "inferior" blades, and proudly go with tradition. while i'm personally not that strict in my sword "morals" i do see the values that correspond to that sort of mindset. we're talking about a form that was perfected over a thousand years, and then almost overnight replaced by guns- and i'm referring to the foreigners of the meiji period, rather than the arquebuses used in japan, which were actually themselves almost dropped entirely after the warring states period *before* swords were considered obsolete (read "giving up the gun". . . very insightful read.). a clear case of tradition overcoming technology. japanese smiths these days are emphatic in their refusal to use monosteel, and in another thread recently i remember seeing a japanese smith quoted as more or less renouncing modern steels. it happens all too often these days that people try to impart their own views on their favorite historical figures. while i avidly believe that the samurai have been highly romanticized, exceptions to the norm are typically well documented. musashi, for instance, is popular for being against the norm. yet even he is very specific in his respect for religion, and back then the craft of the sword was literally linked with religion. documented history shows us pretty explicitly that japan was in more or less suspended time. . . in the west we had figures like galileo that questioned religion, but i'm not personally aware of any sort of similar movement in japan.

    let me reiterate that i'm in no way attacking bugei or any of their respective views or products. i highly respect what they've achieved both in the jsa realm as well as the production sword realm. i think bugei is one of the most honorable, quality-driven companies around. it's the whole "super katana" concept that kind of rubs me the wrong way. accept it for what it is, but no matter how far science advances the japanese sword, we're kind of dealing with something that has arguably been perfected.

    edit:http://www.swordforumbugei.com/phpBB...pic.php?t=5883 t10. . . who called it? maybe this is another blade being discussed. . . i still want to see this one.
    Last edited by les yeich; 02-05-2009 at 09:55 PM.
    les yeich (pronounced yike)

    helden wie wir sterben doch allein,
    einsam unerreicht werden wir sein.
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  21. #46
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    If you like the traditional steels, that's cool.

    I'm not an ancient samurai, but I would imagine if my life depended on it, I would want the most rugged, durable thing I could find because I could not afford to have it fail on me when I needed it. I probably wouldn't get too concerned over aesthetic details that don't affect performance. If I saw something that proved to me that tamahagane could outperform say, a 1075 monosteel katana (since thats what I've got upstairs), I might change my stance because I'm way too early in this study to say anything definitively. This is just what makes sense to me after a lot of conversations with my fellow students, sensei, and his peers and seniors. Who knows, maybe I'll be shaking my head at this post in another year and a half?

    I understand the supposed aesthetic superiority, but in terms of it being a sword and doing swordy things, I'm not sure tamahagane does anything a monosteel can't. I'll take the modern metallurgy, thermometer regulated heat treatment, and modern quenchants over black sand, charcoal, and water.

    All things being equal, it stands to reason that better materials are going to make for a better end result. If someone can make an ok steel into something great, why not start with a great steel and take it even further?

  22. #47
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    i don't believe tamahagane is superior to modern steels, by any means.

    i personally am a big monosteel fan. a hamon is about as much as my own personal aesthetics demand. it's just that from a historical perspective we're talking about something that's tried and true. to argue that because such-and-such a steel is tougher, does not by any stretch negate the performance capabilities of any other steel. japanese smiths have had the option at various times throughout history to try other materials, and they invariably go back to their tried and true. i believe we'd have a very hard time arguing with a samurai to ditch what they've used for generations in favor of a blade that would be more useful than their nihonto, in the event that they might need it to pry something open with it. katana are made to cut. tamahagane, folded carbon steels, monosteel (of the proper carbon content) have all done this admirably. once we start going into the realm of super-structures within the material, we're really dealing with a novelty. are they tougher than some options? sure. . . does that mean the other options are somehow made obsolete by said innovations? not hardly. samurai have *already* depended their lives on these blades, long before "super katana" were even a realistic plausibility. we already know that they work, and were used for their intended function. anything more is really superfluous.

    i personally am a monosteel fan. most my customs have been monosteel, and in the production world i typically prefer monosteel, as well. i love to examine nice hada, but for me that's getting into art sword territory, and i personally cut with pretty much any blade i buy. so i'm willing to sacrifice the hada, more out of the desire to not have it marred. i've done enough cutting, though, to know where realistic performance ends, and hype begins. heck, anyone remember when last legend first introduced the three mekugi tsuka? throughout history one mekugi is the most common method. is three safer or more durable? maybe. *shrug*. is it necessary? no! it's a superfluous addition, to impart a little more confidence in the user. same with the whole "full tang" concept. in another thread keith larman mentions seeing tsuka with something like 5"+ inches of wood with no nakago support surviving plenty of hard use, just fine. so is a full tang necessary? no. . . but for some reason a lot of people thinks it's necessary for a blade to be safe. i've gone through the craze for an indestructible blade myself. the thing is, after actually destroying a few blades, from cheap-o to really nice, i accepted that we're dealing with differences that *seem* great on paper (this blade is only capable of bending 90 degrees out of line, yet this one is capable of *180*!) but in actual practice, that's never going to come into play.
    les yeich (pronounced yike)

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  23. #48
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    I spoke with Mr. Williams at SHOT and got to handle the piece in question. When I asked him what it was made of he was reluctant and said "for now let's call it unobtanium" The corrosion resistance and non-traditional hamon (which was beautiful) makes me hazard a guess at friction forging???
    "We are all imprisoned by the dictionary. We choose out of that vast, paper-walled prison our convicts, the little black printed words, when in truth we need fresh sounds to utter, new enfranchised noises which would produce a new effect."
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  24. #49
    Gentlemen,

    I have to clarify something that I think is important.

    I have seen the term "Super Katana" being given to the sword that Mr. James Williams was describing in the Bugei forum. Mr. Williams did not called this sword a "Super Katana"; this term was put to the sword by members of this forum.
    Having that said, I find some of the arguments made in this forum towards this new sword, as if Mr. Williams has presented this new development as a "Super Katana", invalid.

    Regards,

    Alex
    If you believe everything you read, better not read. Japanese Proverb

  25. #50
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    ...Sorry if this has been stated already...as I am still reading through the posts...

    ...but back when I was crazy about Oni Forge (Still really like them as Kensei), they had up in the videos and pictures some snaps of a sword just like this that was in testing. It was forge folded (I'm assuming this one is not), I believe differentially hardened, and was breaking cinderblocks with edge strikes from the fully sharpened sword. I kept trying to go back to check it out, but it was only up for a brief moment.

    As for the sword itself...and this has already been said...who would need a sword capable of chopping cinderblocks? If super-durability is needed, then so is more training...in my opinion at least. I mean, we still have examples of swords, mounted and remounted, that were used for six or so hundred years. I feel that this is a gimmick. A CRAZY COOL gimmick, but still a gimmick.
    I'm totally super cereal!

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