Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Japanese katana is not a play thing children!

Recently after a pilgrimage with my Iaido teacher to find a decent "beater katana" for our target cutting day, I looked on YouTube to see if there were any reviews on a factory made katana that could convince me to buy it. What I saw instead, was a bit more saddening than I wish to believe.....I witnessed what was a swordsman's holocaust and cringed often while witnessing such stupidity and daft handling of swords!

Let us begin with looking at how most katanas get to places such as the US, the UK, Spain, etc. First off, it should be known that it's incredibly difficult and/or expensive to export a REAL katana from Japan. This is mainly due to Japan's declaration of their swords being national treasures. Thus, if you wish to obtain a hand made katana resembling what could be found in feudal Japan you must be prepared to spend a 6 month process of being interviewed and obtaining a sword owner's license per sword you wish to have. On top of that, these swords don't come cheap boys and girls! On average one can expect to pay anything from $3,000 for your bare minimum sword while shelling out $20,000 for a real work of art!

However, a REAL katana has such beautiful attributes to it! Such as this:

I bet some of you didn't see that coming! Of course there are more reasons to wanting a real handcrafted katana that just to shoot bullets at it. But isn't that just cool?

Moving on, I beat that you are wondering dear reader what exactly people such as myself that don't have $3,000-$20,000 lying around and 6 months to kill do to get our katana fix? Well, we resort to factory made katanas that are made in either China or the west coast around California! These swords are a lot cheaper and allow us to practice our cuts with similar (albeit weaker) cutting capability.

This demand for cheaper yet functional katanas has thus created a huge market for them and has created countless websites and roadside China Bazaars that sell them! With this power of having decently machine made swords however, comes a great responsibility.


You are about to witness several people who sell or review machine made katanas and test them in the worst ways possible that can potentially break, chip, bend, or utterly destroy your katana not to mention hurt yourself! These sellers are so irresponsible by doing these tests as if saying: "Yes when you buy this katana you can try chopping a log in half too!"

As this man conveys through his stupidity:

What in the world was he thinking? A Japanese katana does not have the heavy back edge of a hatchet and thus will usually break or bend when such a stunt is pulled!

But does this particular man's stupidity end? Oh no! Of course not! Not until we try cutting up some 55 gallon drum barrels!

Chipping the edge of the katana is a BIG no-no! That's another way of telling your customer: "Hey kids! Buy this sword, grab a barrel, and YOU TOO can have your own red-neck samurai adventure in your very own back yard! You totally wouldn't be disrespecting a tradition that Japanese craftsmen and warriors have tried to uphold for HUNDREDS of years!"

Of course, the stupidity does not end here! Let's try cutting through another METAL object without any proper training with our brand spankin' new sword guys!

Even though the sword seems to be un-damaged in the previous video, that is by no means the proper way to test a katana's durability! That's just utterly disrespectful in my opinion!

Speaking of disrespectful:

I don't know about you folks, but to me that's just a HUGE pimp slap in the face to every Japanese sword maker out there! Why on earth would anyone think it was okay to test a swords flexibility by stepping on it? Not to mention your taking what was and still is considered a sacred and highly revered object in Japan's culture and STOMPING ON IT WITH YOUR FEET! I would pay money to transport a real samurai from Edo period Japan and have him watch this guy do that, then cut him down repeatedly for such idiocy!

To end my rant boys and girls, a Japanese sword (whether hand made or factory pressed) is an object that should be respected. It represents an entire country's history and a lifestyle that I personally try to abide by. If one obtains a new katana it should be tested by cutting like this:

See? He may not of been properly dressed or even that skilled, but he tested the the sword respectfully. Cutting rolled up mats or even plastic bottles is a respectful way of testing a sword. You are cutting something that shows you how good of a cut the sword makes without potentially damaging the sword or disgracing it.

As I get off my "high pedestal" here, all I ask of people wishing to buy or test a Japanese katana is that they do so respectfully. They are an art and an major asset to a swordsman's life and should be treated as such!

Have a good rest of the summer folks! I'll keep updating as often as I can!