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Thread: Is this katana any good?

  1. #1
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    Is this katana any good?

    When I was MUCH younger I was very much into martial arts. I lived in Swaziland, Mozambique and was was then Rhodesia.

    I used to own a real katana. When we packed up everything and moved to Europe, it 'disappeared'. We think it was stolen by the people who packed the container. The chance of ever recovering it was NIL.

    We now live in Belgium. Last year, my daughter bought me a katana from B÷ker in Germany for my birthday, part of the description is : -

    By forging each blade receives its own individual character. The handle is lined with genuine ray skin and then artfully wrapped. The clean lacquered wood scabbard matches the color of the control winding. The sword is delivered in a traditional wooden box that is lined with Asian fabrics. To preserve the value of your collector's item also lies with the sword a cloth bag and an original cleaning and care. 80 layers of hand-forged carbon steel damascus give this luxury Katana his extraordinary charisma. A sight which one can not ignore anymore. Tsuba and fittings are kept in antique brass.

    She bought this for me under the impression that it was a proper katana, but we were all extremely disappointed when it arrived and we found that it wasn't even remotely sharp.

    The first question is whether or not the steel used to forge the blade is a good enough quality to be called a katana and is it worth trying to get it sharpened?

    My second question is, if it is worth sharpening, does anyone know of anywhere (preferably in Europe), where I could get it professionally sharpened?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Hi Henry

    Welcome To Sword Forum International

    I had noted somewhere around 2007 that Boker was importing katana and what I have seen of them have been generally the lower end of the market as far as quality goes. Boker has imported more and more work from China and the katana have been a result of that.

    I really don't know what the market is like these days but I do note that as soon as the packaging is in a synthetic silk lined wood box and a kit, chances are they are as well made as the swords themselves.

    If the sword currently needs to be sharpened for cutting use, I see a big flag in suggesting to just honor the gift from family and proudly display it while looking at better functional swords if the urge to cut strikes. There is a fair amount of the market that may look ok but a closer look shows a lack of dedication in making these katana in a traditional manner and not cutting a lot of corners in doing so.

    Some pictures or a link of your example may say thousands of words but the shorter phrases in suggestion would be to look closely at how traditional swords are made compared to the ever growing market of katana from China.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; the Boker Plus, Magnum and Arbolito blades are all made out of Germany with the Plus and Magnum being made in China.
    Last edited by Glen C.; 11-07-2011 at 11:30 AM.

  3. #3
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    Henry, you may have a iaito on your hands. This is a blade made to be dull for martial arts training purposes. The quality of the blades can vary from bad to good, but I would hesitate in treating a iaito as a family heirloom.

    As far as the verbiage from Boker, I would treat it as marketing hype until I saw the blade itself. (That's a request for pictures!)
    <><><> <><><> <><><>
    Do what thy manhood bids thee do,
    from none but self expect applause;
    He noblest lives and noblest dies
    who makes and keeps his self-made laws.

    -Sir Richard Francis Burton

  4. #4
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    As we live almost on the German border, this was from B÷ler Germany in Solingen and not B÷ker USA. B÷ker were offering a range of katanas at the time. Many of them were in the 60 Euro range. There were some carbon steel ones at around 90 to 120 Euros, but my daughter looked on the web and came up with Damacus steel as being the best (and most expensive). The one my daughter bought is no longer listed, but I asked her to pick the nearest one (price-wise and kind of steel used). She says this is the nearest but the price was slightly less (it was bought on 2009) http://www.boker.de/schwerter/02RY441DAM.html

    Picture, no problems. From what angle would you like the photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas S View Post
    Henry, you may have a iaito on your hands. This is a blade made to be dull for martial arts training purposes. The quality of the blades can vary from bad to good, but I would hesitate in treating a iaito as a family heirloom.

    As far as the verbiage from Boker, I would treat it as marketing hype until I saw the blade itself. (That's a request for pictures!)

  5. #5
    Sorry to say but your sword (and all other Japanese style swords on that website for that matter - are so called 'wall hangers' or 'SLOs' (sword like objects). All these swords are mass produced in China.
    The lack of proper knowledge and the fast production speed often create a product which is really not according to the standard of a Japanese sword.

    Besides different aesthetics this can also lead to very dangerous situations (cracked handle, loose wrapping, bad hardened steel etc etc). Having it on the wall is no problem but in no case go swinging around with it.
    https://www.facebook.com/TheSamuraiWorkshop - Custom sword mounts, restoration, Kaneie shinken and a whole lot more about Japanese history and martial arts culture


    ...because spending hundreds of dollars on something that can cost you your life is worth spending more than thirty minutes of thought on.
    Originally Posted by Brian Pettett

  6. #6
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    Mr. Martin,

    for a hand made katana in EU, that is not CRAZY expensive, I would recommend Pavel Bolf, Czech aikidoka and smith...

    There are a few finished and for sale at the moment... FOR SALE

    If they are too expensive, you could order a basic katana in koshirae for cca. 1000 EUR, but you would have to wait for it to be made... PRICE LIST

    Anyway, this way, it would truly be an heirloom, a custom hand-made job, and safe to use... If you are looking for a true nihonto, than the price goes up, factor 3-4 and more...

    If I could, I would commission a katana from Pavel Bolf... Maybe some day...

  7. #7
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    Seems like a good answer. I get the message - don't waste time and money on it. I'm sure my daughter will be disappointed but cÚst lavie, I guess.

    How about one of these? http://www.battlemerchant.com/Swords...ies::2952.html

    Seems to be from this company http://www.coldsteel.com/japanimperial.html and they have an impressive video on their home page as well.

    The video clips look good if you look at all of them. What do you think?
    Last edited by Henry Martin; 11-10-2011 at 03:35 PM.

  8. #8
    Cold Steel makes OK swords, better than average fittings, sharp and tough blades.
    Cons include saya fit, flat profile blades, horrible balance (crowbar), and really high prices for what they are.

    I purchased two before I educated myself and given the numerous options available in the US, I would not buy them again. Still I do not regret the purchase, nor do I use them to cut because of the balance. They have carved a market with the over-hyped videos very successfully.

  9. #9
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    Point taken Mark, but there are a couple of problems : -

    1. Anything we import into Belgium has horrific Import duties. I bought a guitar from the USA and the duty and tax was almost as much as the guitar!
    2. There's a recession on in Europe, so money is tight. 600 - 700 Euros is a big slice of cash in today's times.

    This leaves me with three options : -
    1. Don't bother
    2. Try to sharpen the Chinese one
    3. Buy one from Cold Steel OR

    Can anyone suggest where I can buy a better one that Cold Steel in the same price range from somewhere in Europe that uses the Euro. Anywhere outside the Eurozone (which seems doomed now anyway - just a matter of time) will incur massive duties and taxes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Trick View Post
    Cold Steel makes OK swords, better than average fittings, sharp and tough blades.
    Cons include saya fit, flat profile blades, horrible balance (crowbar), and really high prices for what they are.

    I purchased two before I educated myself and given the numerous options available in the US, I would not buy them again. Still I do not regret the purchase, nor do I use them to cut because of the balance. They have carved a market with the over-hyped videos very successfully.

  10. #10
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    Croatia, Adriatic coast
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    This was a good venue to buy an OK katana in Europe... Looks like they are sold out, though...

    SHINKEN

    It is hard to recognize quality among the imports from China since it is a BIG country, with ALLOT of different providers of goods, of all quality...

    Maybe if you write to Mr. Stenudd to ask his advice on what to buy, it might be OK... He is making some good points on the page I linked, do read through...

    Or, maybe one of these...?

    TOZANDO SHINKEN

    There is a thread here about them...

    Tozando German-made shinken

  11. #11
    brass seems to be an odd choice for the tsuba. You want one made of iron or copper. Damascus these days is just another way to say the steels been folded(mostly for looks now a days). high carbon steel is what a proper katana is made of and even more important than that is the way its been heat treated. I prefer differently tempered blades because to me the hamon(temper line) is one of the most important parts.Also if you do get another katana read the whole web page carefully some are a little misleading but with some reserch you can weed them out. also read reviews and dont just take one persons word for it read as many as you can. hope you find the one thats perfect for you.

  12. #12
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    Brass is copper and zinc, there are lots of sentoku(brass) antique tsuba out there, why is it an odd choice?
    "Remember shop smart, shop 's' mart

  13. #13
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    France, japan, Italy... I travel...
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    You can try Zanshin.fr (it is an actual shop based in Paris on top of being a website) has a fair selection of not too expensive practical katanas (mainly forged items from http://www.zhengwu-swords.com/). As they very often have special discounts, the listed prices are more indication of a maximum price, not of the average one for any given sword. The owner is very active in the local sword appreciation association (this saturday he is even hosting a seminar on recognizing original swordsmith signatures, two weeks ago it was a class on Urushi coating?...) so he does have a collector/practitioner outlook rather than a business owner. And I find that reassuring... he has to cross path over and over again the people to whom he sold swords to.
    So, if you are living in europe (and thus bound to the 20% VAT and outrageous custom duties) it is worth checking their website from times to times. But be sure to wait for the Sales periods, it is worth it.
    I got one mid-level katana in sanmai of the Jingi line (http://www.zhengwu-swords.com/en/shop/22.html) from them this year, a touch heavy for me but quite good for cutting. And it was highly discounted at under 1000€ even with a nice koshirae, the entry level monosteel katanas are much cheaper.


    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Martin View Post
    Point taken Mark, but there are a couple of problems : -

    1. Anything we import into Belgium has horrific Import duties. I bought a guitar from the USA and the duty and tax was almost as much as the guitar!
    2. There's a recession on in Europe, so money is tight. 600 - 700 Euros is a big slice of cash in today's times.

    This leaves me with three options : -
    1. Don't bother
    2. Try to sharpen the Chinese one
    3. Buy one from Cold Steel OR

    Can anyone suggest where I can buy a better one that Cold Steel in the same price range from somewhere in Europe that uses the Euro. Anywhere outside the Eurozone (which seems doomed now anyway - just a matter of time) will incur massive duties and taxes.

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