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#376424 - 01/01/08 11:57 PM weapons master series on Discovery
hedkikr Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 02/28/05
Posts: 2827
Loc: Southern California, USA
After the New Year's party, I stayed up to wind down in front of my TV. Surfed across a new show on Discovery - they compared a traditionally hand-made katana w/ a modern American-made version.

Very interesting. If you didn't see it, I hope that you find it in reruns. If you saw it, any comments?

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#376425 - 01/02/08 12:04 AM Re: weapons master series on Discovery [Re: hedkikr]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Saw it, interesting, bit to much "gee whiz"--shooting swords with guns proves little to nothing--but it did look good on camera.

They also didn't address the clear bending of a sword during a trust.

I enjoyed watching the show though.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#376426 - 01/02/08 02:57 AM Re: weapons master series on Discovery [Re: cxt]
JAMJTX Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
I happened to find this too. It was interesting.
The American sword maker was Howard Clark. I'm not familiar with his work but the sword he turned out for the show seemed to be quite decent.
I don't recall the name of the Japanese sword maker whose blade was compared to Clark's.
They had James Williams of Nami Ryu do the cutting tests.
The went through both of the sword making processes then did comparison testing of the swords. Although Clarks sword was decent, it seems that the Japanese hand-made was still better.

If you get a chance it's worth watching.

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#376427 - 01/02/08 09:20 AM Re: weapons master series on Discovery [Re: JAMJTX]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Doesn't Bugei sell Clark's? Isn't there a bit of a conflict of interest having Williams do the testing?
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#376428 - 01/02/08 03:41 PM Re: weapons master series on Discovery [Re: Charles Mahan]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Charles

I don't know, but the show did present some evidence that that a guy with a well chosen piece of steel, a good grinder and knowloge of metals can get a performence out of it that is "ball park" to a hand forged blade.

As prices keep going up and up and up in blades---people who sell blades short of "master" forged weapons might want to keep that in mind......;)

When costs hit a certain level, all sorts of previously unmarketable ideas/concepts/avenues start looking good.

I still want to know about the hand forged blade bending during the test.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#376429 - 01/02/08 05:03 PM Re: weapons master series on Discovery [Re: cxt]
JAMJTX Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
I think they should have gotten someone who did not sell Clark's blades. It could be seen as a conflict of interest. But Williams did not say anything to endorse one blade over the other - he just cut with them. And the Clark blade did not perform as well on the cutting test.

If I recall correctly, Williams used both blades to cut a tatame that was 8 innches rolled up. Using the same cut, the Clark blade did not go all the way through.

On another note, they also referred to Williams as the "foremost authority" on Japanese swords in the U.S.

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#376430 - 01/02/08 05:36 PM Re: weapons master series on Discovery [Re: cxt]
KimTaylor Offline
Newbie

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Canada

I don't think prices have gone up that much on newly forged, papered blades from Japan, and I doubt those blades have any effect on the appearance and price of cheaper blades made in North American or elsewhere.

There's a whole new market out there for Japanese style blades that are made outside Japan, it's a third market beside the iaido guys who want a blade to use and the antiques market of sword collectors.

The problem is, people keep getting the markets mixed up, I get kids asking if our Chinese made shinken are hand forged from tamahagane and whether or not they have a "full tang". One question comes from the collector market and one from the back-yard cutting market. Neither are particularly relevant to the intended market of folks who use the blades for iaido.

It's not surprising that a homogeneous steel bar would make a good blade, forge folded Japanese steel was the result of iron sand as a starting material and charcoal for heat, it was the best you could do and there's certainly nothing inherently better in a forged blade over a ground out blade, which is why you've got industrial punch presses and rolled steel instead of blacksmiths in industry today.

By the way, in terms of cost, the newly forged blades are far and away the most expensive blades out there, with the exception of a few extremely valuable art blades. At least the last time I paid attention to the collector's market that was the case.

Kim Taylor

Quote:

Charles

I don't know, but the show did present some evidence that that a guy with a well chosen piece of steel, a good grinder and knowloge of metals can get a performence out of it that is "ball park" to a hand forged blade.

As prices keep going up and up and up in blades---people who sell blades short of "master" forged weapons might want to keep that in mind......;)

When costs hit a certain level, all sorts of previously unmarketable ideas/concepts/avenues start looking good.



_________________________
http://sdksupplies.com/ http://ejmas.com/

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#376431 - 01/02/08 06:16 PM Re: weapons master series on Discovery [Re: KimTaylor]
KenSan Offline
Newbie

Registered: 12/08/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Kaneohe, Hawaii
I was "so happy" to hear that James Williams is the U.S. 'foremost authority' on Japanese swords.... There are quite a few real experts who must also be "happy."

Howard Clark does make a killer L6 bainite blade. I've had the opportunity to cut with one, & must admit that I would like to have my own for tameshigiri. My only complaint is that his tsuka was a couple of inches longer than what I'm used to. I would also like to be able to afford one, but would likely use the same amount of money to buy another Nihonto instead.

I agree with Kim that a modern steel blade should be able to cut just about as well as a Japanese forged blade. The guy who "built his own" with Howard's help certainly didn't use the same techniques that would be used by an expert in constructing a katana, which only goes to prove that almost anything can be used for tameshigiri when wielded by an expert.
_________________________
Ken Goldstein Judo Godan/MJER Iaido Disciple/MSR Jodo Disciple/ Fencing Master/NRA Instructor

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#376432 - 01/02/08 09:59 PM Re: weapons master series on Discovery [Re: KenSan]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I haven't seen the documentary in question but that test sounds flawed. There are simply too many variables in the test to draw any meaningful conclusions from the test as described here. Perhaps Williams-sensei's cut with the Clark was just plain off. Bad cuts happen sometimes, even to good cutters. Perhaps the two mats had some kind of difference in material that came into play.

Seems that to do a test like this right you would need to find some way to drastically reduce the number of variables. You would need to reduce the variability of the cutting medium and the arc, speed, power, hasuji, and various other elements which go into the cutting motion itself.

BTW, Howard Clark has a pretty darn good reputation as American smiths go. Just so that we're clear that it is a pretty good example of the upper end of what the US smith community has to offer.

Now whether or not Williams-sensei is the "foremost expert" on Japanese swords, well that just seems unlikely. There are an awful lot of really knowlegable folks floating around this country. It's really just the kind of statement that journalists and hollywood types like to throw in to make their story sound better than it perhaps really is. I wouldn't hold it against Williams-sensei as he probably had little to do with the decision to use that statement in the show.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#376433 - 01/03/08 12:08 PM Re: weapons master series on Discovery [Re: Charles Mahan]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Charles

I think the sword market is still trying to find its proper level.

People buying blades, as you mentioend, because they are "full tang" and the like---bascially people with little real info on blades buy off marketing terms instead of in-depth inforamtion or hands on experience.

I BTW think the "grinder blade would have performed even better had the guy put a good polish on it.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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