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Thread: MAS Shirayuri Katana test

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Clemson, SC

    MAS Shirayuri Katana test

    I was fortunate enough to be asked by Martial Art Swords to test one of their products and I graciously accepted. The following are the results of the test.

    I. My background or "who is this guy anyway?"
    - South Carolina representative for the World Kum Do Association
    - South Carolina representative for the United States Chanbara Association/All Japan Goshindo Federation

    II. Sword tested
    -Shirayuri Katana with mirror polish
    - For specifics, please go to...
    - This test is the first time that I have used this specifc sword/model.

    III. Materials used
    A. Bugei Wara (rush grass mats)
    - Single and double full mats soaked in room temperature water for 20 hrs and drained for 1 hr

    B. Bamboo
    - Pole diameter varied from 1 to 2 inches
    - Green bamboo harvested 24 hrs prior
    - Dry bamboo harvested 4 weeks prior

    C. Bamboo wrapped with full mat
    - Soaked in room temperature water for 20 hrs and drained for 1 hr

    IV. Results
    A. Furniture and construction
    - Although I prefer a simple cotton tsuka ito (handle wrap), the Shirayuri's suede leather wrap allows for a sure grip and is very tight. The tsuka (handle) is not bulky and the construction is the Japanese style 2 retaining pins. Although the full tang handle connection is very secure, I favor the Korean pin and bolt construction of my own MAS Sunflower. The silver habaki and menuki (blade collar and handle ornaments) and steel tsuba (hand guard) are quality pieces, just not my cup of tea. The scabbard is well made and the buffalo horn cap is a nice touch. Saya ito (scabbard cord) is nice and long. Personal aesthetic preference aside, the sword is very solidly built.

    B. Performance (Please refer to quicktime movie for visual reference)
    - url:
    1. Mats
    - The sword is not as tip heavy as the Sunflower and has a different geometry (see enclosed jpeg for comparison), so I was a little off until I got used to its feel. As you can see in the quicktime movie, the sword cut the mat well with very little drag. The almost non-existent niku (thin blade geometry) allows for this. Also, the light weight permits quick re-allignment of attack angle for multiple cuts. In addition, the draw and sheath felt very smooth.

    2. Green bamboo
    - The bamboo cut almost as easily as the mats. Again, due the the sword's light weight, several cuts can be done without much fatigue or excess angle set-up time .

    3. Bamboo wrapped by mat
    - With some of the other swords that I have used (Hanwei and other Chinese brands), the blade can drift when one attempts to cut a target that is both hard and soft. In other words, rather than a nice straight cut, you get not a scooped (due to unbalanced ringing of the handle during the cut) but a wavy cut...kind of like a Ruffles potato chip. As seen in the mpeg, the cut s are clean. I am not an engineer but I assume since there is less mass on the blade, less friction aids in the accuracy of the angle.

    4. Multiple green bamboo poles
    - Obviously more power is needed for this cut but the blade was easily controlled so you could properly cut in between the knuckles of the bamboo.

    5. Dry Bamboo
    -By far the hardest target to cut and most power needed. As seen in the jpeg (the debris on the blade is from cutting and was later easily cleaned off), there is no damage to the blade. The production swords that I have had experience with (Last Legend, Hanwei & lesser known Chinese forges) would not survive this test if your angle was incorrect. Chipping, bending and even snapping can occur when cutting too solid of a target at a bad angle. According to the MAS website, the blade is guaranteed to withstand extremes even if you are cutting hard targets such as bamboo. Since there is a lot of vibration involved in cutting dry bamboo, the tendency for the angle to go awry is great. For MAS to have a guarantee, there must be something quite unique in its metallurgy.

    V. Conclusion
    - Personal tastes in furniture put aside, my humble opinion is that the Shirayuri katana is a well built cutting sword. I believe that MAS offers a certain amount of customization, so one could acquire the desired look of their choice. If you will be doing a lot of hard target cutting, I would highly recommend it or another similarly built MAS product. I thank both MAS for the opportunity and all of you for taking the time to read my opinion.

    Thomas Urso
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Thank you for sharing this nice review.
    nice cutting.
    More Sweat In Training Less Blood In Combat
    My Site

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    South East, UK
    Great review and if i had the money i would love to
    purchase a MAS Katana, it would be interesting to see how
    a Cheness Shura would compare in a simlar test as they are
    very strong but much cheaper.
    Go on, Cut It!
    If you at first dont succeed get your Dadao!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Northern Virginia, USA
    nice review, Tom. Good detail on the bamboo cutting, we did not get a chance to try that.

    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    new york


    very nice, if i do say so myself the blade looks excellent as well, it is the first time i get to see your blade up close Mr.Urso...or at least a similar one....


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