Friday, May 16, 2008

Start Your Training With A Daito Wood Practice Sword

Black Cord Wrapped Boken Daito Wood Practice Sword is the way to become a True Blademaster

The wrap on the handle is a nice Touch; My Guard doesn't really fit that good, but will stay in place (it just jiggles a little when I swing). Also the fact that they have weight to them helps increase the muscles in your wrist and arms. I have hit them together accidentally and they seem to hold up to the blow.

Overall, it was pretty good, I was a little disappointed in the quality of this sword. There were several cracks in the finish of the sword. Nothing huge, just minor eyesores.

A great bokken at a good price. I do both Ninjutsu and Toyamma Ryu, a katana martial art new to the U.S. that is a combination of Iaido and kenjutsu with a strong emphasis on iaido(drawing and sheathing of the sword) and on the perfection of the cut. It is heavier than most bokken, which I think is a good thing because its closer to the weight of a real katana, and it builds strength in the forearms while practicing. For Toyamma Ryu I use mostly my carbon steel Iaito(unsharpened katana) but still use it when we do kenjutsu techniques like blocking drills bokken to bokken. It doesn't come with a saya(sheath), but I just made one out of thick black plastic from my water well tubing and heated to mold it into more of an oval instead of being circular. I needed a saya, because it is important for drawing in Iaido techniques. For most bokkens you can use those old plastic black golf club tubes that they sell at Dick's Sporting Goods or wherever you can find them, but you have to ask for them. The handle-wrap is durable and a really nice feature. In Ninjutsu all we use is the bokken because we do body movement to avoid the blade which is obv much safer than a metal sword. I've wacked it pretty hard in practice and by accident a few times and it has held up really well and the handle-wrap hasn't moved at all, so I think it is a really nice practice tool that everyone will love.

It's still a fairly cheap piece of wood, compared to an ironwood version, but at this price (it was $9.99 when I bought it) you really can't go wrong. A nice enhancement over the basic bokken. I do, however, prefer the natural wood version to this one as it looks pretty bad once you start using it and the color scrapes off. Nevertheless, if you want an inexpensive practice sword this one is recommended.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Your First Samurai Sword — The Katana Honor

Cheap Katana Sword - kanji (honor)
Samurai sword collecting is a very popular past time for many Americans. Something that is becoming even more popular is martial arts that make use of samurai sword for fighting and cutting exercises.

I recommend this sword for decorative purposes. For a wallhanger, I have no complaints. The kanji script carved into the scabbard is very attractive and adds to the traditional look of the sword. All the wrappings are nylon, but look nice enough. Sword is not of the best quality, but worth the 15 dollar price tag.

If you look at the sword detailed description, you'll see that it's made of HQSS stainless steel, already sharpened, with the hamon along the edge of the blade. But usualy it's not sharp enough to pass the paper test.

I also recommend to look at the Japanese Samurai Swords Buying Guide and How to buy your first Medieval Sword.

The sword is beautiful and exactly as expected. The sheath is a black matte.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wooden Sword vs. Katana, Musashi vs. Kojiro

Some of the martial art schools start training with wooden swords. That means less danger in fencing, but even a wooden sword may be a very dangerous weapon. Look at this historic samurai Duel at Ganryu Island, legendary Miyamoto Musashi vs. Sasaki Kojiro:

That's a movie, not a true fight.

First of all, in this movie Musashi looks much older than 30 years (that great fight was 13th of April, 1612, and Musashi aged approximately 30).

Second, Musashi struck him on the skull with his oversized bokken (wooden sword), not a short sword drawn with his left hand as shown in the video.

And the third, Kojiro was armed by Nodachi instead of Katana.

According to wikipedia, there are two version of this fight.

Musashi arrived more than three hours late, and goaded Kojiro by taunting him. When Kojiro attacked, his blow came as close as to sever Musashi's topknot or ponytail. He came close to victory several times until, supposedly blinded by the sunset behind Musashi, Musashi struck him on the skull with his oversized bokken (wooden sword), which was over 90 centimeters long. Musashi supposedly fashioned the long bokken, a type called a suburito due to its above-average length, by shaving down the spare oar of the boat in which he arrived at the duel with his wakizashi (the wood was very hard). Musashi had been late for the duel on purpose in order to psychologically unnerve his opponent (a tactic used by him on previous occasions, such as during his series of duels with the Yoshioka swordsmen).

Another version of the legend recounts that when Musashi finally arrived, Kojiro shouted insults at him, but Musashi just smiled. Angered even further, Kojiro leapt into combat, blinded by rage. Kojiro attempted his famous "swallow's blade" or "swallow cut," but Musashi's oversized bokken hit Kojiro first, causing him to fall down; before Kojiro could finish his swallow cut, Musashi smashed Kojiro's left rib, puncturing his lungs and killing him. Musashi then hastily retreated to his boat and sailed away.

This was Musashi's last fatal duel.