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#285293 - 09/13/06 04:32 AM Knowing whether a sword is suitable for practice
Zyranyth Offline
Member

Registered: 09/13/06
Posts: 188
Loc: Finland
Hello everyone.

I was wondering whether anyone could give me some guidelines regarding if a sword is suitable for kata practice or not. I acquired a katana a few years ago from a budo store, but got into iaido lately. As I didn't know anything about swords (not that I know much now either) at the time when I bought it, I have no idea whether it's a full tang and how suitable it is for practicing with.

I gather that a blade should be full tang if it is to be used for practing with. I also suppose that the only way to find out whether a blade is or not is to disassemble it. Now, I'm wondering, if I remove the wrapping and try to remove the handle, a sword not meant to be disassembled will propably even look like the junk is after that. Is there any easy way to spot whether a blade can be safely disassembled?
Any other advise?

Thanks in advance.

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#285294 - 09/13/06 09:28 AM Re: Knowing whether a sword is suitable for practice [Re: Zyranyth]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Since you are now practicing you have it easy. Show it to your instructor. If it is not acceptable ask what to get. Your instructor will prove to be a wealth of information.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#285295 - 09/13/06 09:28 AM Re: Knowing whether a sword is suitable for practi [Re: Zyranyth]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
Glad you asked before doing.
If you have started in an Iaido class, take your blade with you to class and ask your instructor. He should be able to tell you if it is suitable for iaido, or be able to disassemble it without damage. (The small tapered bamboo pin that holds the handle to the tang can be tapped out and the handle slipped off without being unwrapped.)
He should also be able to tell you if it is a steel blade (not a toy and dangerous) or a zinc/aluminum alloy blade intended for kata practice only.
Kata in Iaido are performed against an imaginary opponent. There is no sword to sword contact.

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#285296 - 09/13/06 10:53 AM Re: Knowing whether a sword is suitable for practi [Re: iaibear]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Try sticking a magnet to the blade. If it doesn't stick, that's a good sign, but not conclusive. If it does stick, that's a bad sign, but again not conclusive. Show it to your instructor either way.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#285297 - 09/13/06 12:17 PM Re: Knowing whether a sword is suitable for practi [Re: Zyranyth]
Benjamin1986 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 611
Loc: Republic of Texas
Even if it is steel, it may be poorly tempered and fragile. Look at the quality of the hilt wrappings. Are they tight? Is is good material or cheap shoestring? If they didn't put a decent hilt together, then they probably didn't spend any time on the blade either.

Oh, and Charles, martensite is magnetic too, though not as much as pearlite, so you may get a strong enough magnet to stick even on a hardened edge. Neat trick, though, I wouldn't have thought of using a magnet to check for the temper.


Edited by Benjamin1986 (09/13/06 12:20 PM)
_________________________
Fencing Club at UH

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#285298 - 09/13/06 12:53 PM Re: Knowing whether a sword is suitable for practi [Re: Benjamin1986]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I wasn't thinking of using a magnet to check for anything other than ferrous, or non-ferous. In most cases, an unknown blade which responds to a magnet is gonna be the sign of a wallhanger. It's not conclusive by any stretch, but as I mentioned above, it is a bad sign if it responds to a magnet.

And to be even more clear, this is to test for whether or not the sword in question is an iaito capable of being used by a beginner in iaido or a wallhanger which is good for pretty much nothing.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#285299 - 09/13/06 04:08 PM Re: Knowing whether a sword is suitable for practice [Re: Zyranyth]
Zyranyth Offline
Member

Registered: 09/13/06
Posts: 188
Loc: Finland
So, after exhaustive discussion with my sensei and the few guidelines you gave here - the blade I have is suddenly feeling like a trashbag in the corner of the room. It does look nice, but knowing the 'truth' about it now just doesn't let me enjoy even it's good looks anymore. =p

Obviously, I'm not going to go show it to my sensei for his opinion.

With this though, a new question popped into mind - if I don't have a sword, what's the type of sword I should be looking for? Ok, so my sensei said $800 are entry level swords if you want to cut - but lets say I just want something to practice kata with.

If I understood right, it should be tempered in 1060, have a proper hilt with that bamboo knob so the hilt can be removed, and the hilt should be properly wrapped so that the wrapping doesn't loosen with time? Are there any other good pointers as to what a good _entry level_ sword/iaito should be like, or any pointers what to specifically avoid?

I'm willing to buy something of slightly inferior quality for kata practice at first - if only so that I'll get used to practicing with a sword instead of a bokken. Is this a bad thing? Is there even anything like 'slightly inferior' that isn't totally crap? What are good manufacturers that ship internationally? Note that in my iaido organisation only those with dan degrees are allowed to practise with sharpened blades, so I need an unsharpened one.

My sensei also said that if I want a cheap blade, I might want to go for an iaito where the blade is cast aluminum, for the simple reason that while it's not sharpenable, its furniture (is that the word?) is way better than that of a forged sword in the same price range?

This post ended up being alot of rambling and to some part stating things that might be entirely wrong - if so, please correct me. I don't care about being wrong, as long as someone tells me whats right. =)

Thanks!

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#285300 - 09/13/06 04:19 PM Re: Knowing whether a sword is suitable for practice [Re: Zyranyth]
Zyranyth Offline
Member

Registered: 09/13/06
Posts: 188
Loc: Finland

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#285301 - 09/13/06 04:23 PM Re: Knowing whether a sword is suitable for practice [Re: Zyranyth]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Personally I am not a fan of the Paul Chen iaito, but others find them acceptable for Iai practice. Again this is a question for your instructor. While we may find it acceptable, your instructor may not. It would be a shame to waste the money on something you would not be allowed to train with.

I would suggest also checking at http://www.e-bogu.com and http://www.tozando.com

Would you be training with the ZNIR associated Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu group in Finland led by Matsuoi Yuji-sensei?


Edited by Charles Mahan (09/13/06 04:25 PM)
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#285302 - 09/13/06 04:31 PM Re: Knowing whether a sword is suitable for practice [Re: Charles Mahan]
Zyranyth Offline
Member

Registered: 09/13/06
Posts: 188
Loc: Finland
I am practicing Muso Shinden Ryu. I know sensei Matsuoi though, as I have practiced karate with him for roughly a decade. His tendency to alter techniques because of his personal whims sort of drove me away though, me being a fan of traditions.

My sensei mentioned the tozando blades and that they're widely used in our organisation.

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