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#150202 - 05/28/05 08:46 AM Quality of a sword?
dynacker Offline

Registered: 04/15/05
Posts: 12
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Out of curiosity, how is the quality of a katana determined?

#150203 - 05/28/05 01:18 PM Re: Quality of a sword? [Re: dynacker]
jerry_mings Offline

Registered: 04/16/05
Posts: 5
Loc: Hemet, CA, USAA
"The quality of mercy is not strained."

Quality of a katana? Do you mean a nihon-to? A sword for tamishigiri? An aiado? Differn't strokes for different folks.
Jerry "The Dinosaur" Mings

#150204 - 05/28/05 11:26 PM Re: Quality of a sword? [Re: jerry_mings]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
There is a lot to learn about the topic before you will understand the answer to your question. Go to google and look for Richard Stein's Japanese Sword Index. There's a ton of information available there for you to peruse.
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

#150205 - 05/31/05 05:58 PM Re: Quality of a sword? [Re: dynacker]
Benjamin1986 Offline

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 611
Loc: Republic of Texas
Quality of a sword in general has two parts

"How does it look?" and "How does it perform?"

Depending on the person, one or the other might be more important.

"How does it look?" encompasses not only the beauty of the blade, buts its history, maker, and adherence to tradition and is based on personal feelings which can vary wildly from person to person. For example, an Angelsword katana is pleasing to the eye, but it is not traditionally mounted, so a more traditional kenjitsu student would not value it as highly as say, a Swordstore (very traditional) blade, while another person would prefer the non-traditional mounting. Also we have bragging rights. A blade Howard Clark hammered out in an afternoon will be worth more than Joe Smith's masterpiece simply due to reputation.

In "How does it perform", we look at the quality of its actual construction. Does it have an even temper or differential, and are the temper lines even? What sort of steel is it made from? Where is the point of balance? How is the hilt constructed? How hard is the edge? How well can it cut? Other things can only be determined by destruction testing: how tough is the blade? How much force can it take before it snaps? These are tough to determine and data is easy to fake, which is why peer review is essential for buying swords.

I hope I have been of help.
Fencing Club at UH

#150206 - 05/31/05 06:14 PM Re: Quality of a sword? [Re: Benjamin1986]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA

These are tough to determine and data is easy to fake, which is why peer review is essential for buying swords.

I disagree. With peer review that is. Finding proper data is indeed extremely difficult. The real problem is very simple. No two hand made items of any type will ever be the same. Each will always be a little bit different. This is particularly true where hand forged and folded swords are concerned. Testing of such a blade will only tell you how good that particular blade was.

Statistical analysis of all the blades made by a particular smith in a particular style of blade is probably a better way to model the reliability of other blades by the same smith in the same style. Since this is not all that easy either as no facility exists to collect data on the tens of thousands of swords in the hands of martial artists around the world, statistical analysis is not really all that useful. That leaves reputation, a pale shadow of real statistical analysis, but all we really have to go on.

Smiths like Howard Clarke and a other top notch folks both forum and domestic have good reputations because they put out good stuff. It's not just a good PR campaign and lots of advertising.
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.


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