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Thread: Welcome to the Beginner's forum (Please Read)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    A quick hello!

    I want to take this opportunity to welcome newcomers to swords to this discussion board, as well as those who have already been regulars prior to our move to this new forum system.

    If you're an absolute beginner to the world of swords, this is the place for you. There are no stupid questions. The mission of our discussion forums is to provide a warm and friendly online Internet discussion area where people can discuss swords at all levels.

    If you are a newcomer to swords and are looking for a "real" sword, perhaps begin browsing at

    Often times I'm asked who is the most reliable retailer for C.A.S. Iberia, Marto, Art Gladius and Denix swords. Sometimes shopping for the lowest price has its disadvantages. I can very confidently recommend Bright Blades ( as they are a two-time winner of our Editor's Award for Reliable Retail Business for 1999 and 2000 and continue to serve SFI readers. They pre-inspect their stock very diligently, moreso than any other retailer, looking for things beyond just a mere scratch or dent. If you want the peace of mind in your online shopping, pay Jason Hill a visit. Bright Blades has the longest standing relationship with SFI.

    And now, a word from Diane Mirro on "Everything You Wanted to Know about Japanese Swords":

    Many beginners and fledgling sword owners have tons of basic questions about sword care, construction, history, nomenclature...unfortunately, swords do not generally come equipped with an owner's manual.

    Fear not! Rich Stein, who posts on the Nihonto Forum regularly, has put together an impressive site with links to just about everything to do with the Japanese sword. The address is:

    I recommend that you check this site FIRST, then post questions here, so that we can cut down on the number of duplicate queries...

    Also, if you need to find a school of Japanese Swordsmanship in your area, several good dojo finders for Iaido, Kendo, Aiki-ken and Kenjutsu are at the following sites:

    And, finally, before you post, use the search function on this site to see if your topic has just been discussed--our answers tend to get shorter and testier after we've fielded the same question 20 times previously! Such topics include:

    Dismantling/oiling your sword, what kind of oil-lots of posts

    Shirasaya mounts--storage box for the blade, NOT for practice

    Edge vs. flat vs. mune parry--pick a side!

    Ninja-to origin--Japan by way of Hollywood

    Making your own sword--LOTS of info on this already archived

    Chen blades--ditto!

    Extra-long tsuka--double ditto!

    Reverse curve swords, blades on inside--Fantasy site, please

    To use the "Search" function, just click on "Search" (left-hand side menu), type in a key word (such as shirasaya, oil, ninja-to), specify how far back you want to search, then hit "Enter." I recommend searching all the Fora, since there is some overlap with General, Nihonto, JSA and Beginners.

    Aside from all that, welcome and enjoy the show! - Diane Mirro

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    Last edited by Glen C.; 07-23-2010 at 01:51 AM.

  2. #2

    Welcome to the Beginner's forum (Please Read)

    Firstly welcome to Sword Forum International. This forum is specifically set up to help you answer any general questions you might have about swords of any sort.

    If you haven't already done so please take a few minutes to fill in your personal profile (Click on the Button at the top labelled "My Control Panel" and then "Edit Profile"). This will help us to get to know you and hopefully make it easier for us to answer your questions.

    If you are thinking of buying a sword and want some advice then try and provide some of the following information.

    What is your budget? - Swords can range from 2 figures up to 6 figures.

    What style of sword are you interested in? - Japanese, Chinese, Asian, European, Islamic. Almost every culture has it's own unique swords.

    What time period are you interested in? - Swords have varied hugely throughout history.

    Are you wanting a unique weapon made especially for you (custom) or would you prefer an 'off the shelf' sword (production)? Perhaps you are looking to buy an antique sword to keep as a family heirloom?

    What are you planning on doing with this sword? - Display swords are radically different to sharp swords for cutting and blunt/rebated swords for martial arts training.

    If you have a specific sword in mind then please try the "search" option (top, right button). SFI is huge and it is likely that someone has asked a similar question at some time earlier. This also holds true for sword related activities. There is a wealth of knowledge on Eastern and Western Martial Arts as well as Swordcare and forgework here.

    Most of all please don't feel embarrassed, the only stupid question is the one that never gets asked. You can guarantee for every person posting a question there are two or three people lurking who want to know the same thing.

    Enjoy the forums and welcome to the wonderful world of swords.

    Take Care

    Martin Austwick (Oz)
    Learn English Martial Arts

    "I have declaired in my prdoxes of defence of the false teachinge of the noble scyence of defence used here by the Italyon fencers."

    "The time of the foot is when you step forward to strike"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Re: Welcome to the Beginner's forum (Please Read)

    The following is written by sword maker Michael Tinker Pearce.

    The original thread is HERE

    Cheesy Marketing Gimics in the Knife/Sword world.
    Michael Tinker Pearce
    11-09-2003 01:19 AM

    THIS IS NOT DIRECTED AT ANYONE SPECIFICALLY. I was just reflecting on some of the sales pitches, ads and 'stupid sword-maker's tricks' that I've encountered over the years, and a lot of recurring questions from new-comers about them on the forum. Some catch-phrases first:

    'Battle Ready' springs to mind as the first and most obvious catch-phrase. This is probably the most folded, spindled and mutilated phrase in use when it comes to swords. It gets applied to some things that I would would feel were adequate if I had to bet my life on them. I've seen and heard it applied to others things that I would only take into battle if it was duct-taped to an M-16- and someone made me do it. I have seen this term applied to some truly crap blades on the strength of the fact that they had been used in theatrical productions. If you think about this, what does it really mean? A crow bar is 'battle ready.' It's heavy, it's tough, and you can block with it and put a serious hurt on some one with it. By the same token a baseball bat or even a typewriter is 'battle ready.' OK, you know what you mean when you say it- but do you know what sword-seller X means when they say it? When you see this, bear in mind that it doesn't necessarily mean what you think it means, and ask for more specific information about what makes it 'battle ready.'

    'Spring Steel, High Carbon Steel, High Carbon Spring Steel.' This is not of case of abiguity, this is a case of not enough information. There was a 'sword' company in India that was sending over swords that were the most outragious crap that I have ever seen in my life. They made Depeeka look like Vince Evans by comparison. The blades were advertised as 'High-Carbon Steel,' and they were- but they weren't hardened and tempered. They were dead soft! But the ads were technically not a lie. There are a lot of 'spring steels,' and even some very good spring steels aren't suitable for sword blades. Always ask for specifics- the alloy, the heat treatment etc. If in person, always check the sword out carefully. If the seller won't flex the blade or allow you to, there's a reason. Of course, that reason might be that the setting is innappropriate. With regard to knives, one often sees 'stainless steel, Surgical stainless or things like '440 stainless.' This seems to impart information but again it doesn't tell you enough. There are surgical stainless steels that are chosen for toughness, not edge retention, like 304 stainless. There is a huge difference in performance between 440A and 440C. Here also heat treat is important- cryo-queched 440C noticably out-performs non-cryo 440C. Information is your friend! If the materials or presentation don't impart enough USEFULL information ask for more.

    The point is to always get as much information as possible. You might not understand the answers, but someone here likely will. A sword is usually a substantial investment. Arm yourself with knowledge before hand, and research after your questions are answered if you don't understand.

    Some 'Stupid Sword Makers' Tricks-

    Breaking cinder blocks- This a perenial favorite at ren faires and SCA events. Let's face it, what does this prove? I broke a cinder block with a wooden mallet at an event. Karate Guys and Gals do it with thier bare hands, feet, even fore-heads. I think that there is a bumper-sticker in there some where. What it does demonstrate is that the sword- or wooden mallet, or fore-head, is tough. So's a truck. Looks impressive- but it's sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Flexing the blade- OK, at least this shows that the sword has some sort of heat treat and temper. Bear in mind that some types of sword, notably katanas, don't flex- but all euro swords should. I would expect to see a minimum of 45 degrees of flex in what I would consider a usefull sword. Also, a sword can be superbly flexible and have no edge retention at all. Again, ask questions. I used to keep a soft iron bar on hand that I would cut shavings off of. A blade that will do this without dulling the edge noticably has a good, hard edge. Other makers use a file to demonstrate the edges hardness. Some people will give you specs on the hardness. All to the good.

    Cutting tests- These look good, and can even be as impressive as hell. But- a fellow I know of once took his knife for ABS journeyman testing. He sliced the end off of a free-hanging 1 inch thick sisal rope. He chopped a 2x4 in half twice. Then they did they flex test and his blade bent like it was made of butter- he hadn't heat treated it! Edge geometry and technique will take you far. Recently it has become popular to cut tatami mats. Well and good- but frankly this is more a demonstration of technique than sword quality. It's grass-how hard could it be? This is really not revealing of a swords quality- a good swordsman can cut tatami mats with a stainless Katana of dubious temper if it is properly sharpened. I damn near cut a full mat in half with a five inch serated pocket knife recently. Don't get me wrong- cutting mats is great fun and great for developing technique, but a good swordsman with a bad sword is still likely to result in a severed mat. OK- a truly terrible sword might not cut mats in anyone's hands. But at the recent NW rapier invitational several people were able to slice through full mats with a sharpened rapier- technique is most often the deciding factor here. A related example is thrusting a knife through 55 gallon steel drums, car fenders etc. I can do this with a screw driver- so what does this really tell you? When it comes to cutting tests, think about what you are seeing. Does it really say anything useful about the knife or sword in question?

    Another thing to look out for is "secrets." Frankly, there just aren't that many that are worth anything. Between the knife magazines, friendly makers and forums such as this, most of the time when one encounters 'trade secrets' it's really just someone trying to make thier product seem more special than it is. There are exceptions to this, like the specifics of a production process, but these are not the rule. You are going to hear some pretty outragious claims out there- your best bet is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible in advance.

    Do we see a common thread here? The key is arming yourself with as much knowledge as you reasonably can before you take your hard-earned cash out to buy an expensive item. Car, dishwasher, sword- whatever. Be an intelligent and well-informed consumer, and you are much likelier to get something worthy.
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!


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