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Keith Larman
04-29-2008, 11:23 PM
Hey, guys, since the other side of my life away from Aikido is firmly filled with sharp pointy objects called nihonto, I feel I should make an announcement that the Midwest Token Kai is this upcoming weekend, May 2-4, 2008, at the Shaumberg Marriott (basically Chicago). Tons of "real" Japanese swords on tables. Ranging from rusted, entry level old things to nearly priceless swords that are near flawless, often over 800 years old. I'll be there with a table with a few things on display. But I go mainly for the "side shows". I don't know the details yet of most of the displays, but I'm bringing a large number of cross sectioned antiques that I just finished etching and photographing for the show. My partner in my moderntosho.com project is doing some of the presentation on those and I've heard rumors of some nice ichimonji blades to be on display as well. They also tend to have martial arts demos at this show with the Kendo guys whacking each other really hard.

So if you're in that neighborhood, come on by and introduce yourself. I'd be happy to show anyone around the show and help you get the chance to look at some really nice swords if you're so inclined.

And if you want to see a cool example of the cross sections I'm bringing (showing various ways swords were constructed but also showing how "tired" blades look from the "inside out"), I'll attach a teaser image of a very interesting blade.

We always say that Aikido movements are based on the sword. We all have our bokken collections. Come on, admit it, how many of you have dreamed of getting a real one? Or at least seeing a few in person. There is a world of difference between the real deal and production swords most end up with. Come see some blades with history...

You can learn more in 1 minute holding a real nihonto in good polish than you will reading books and websites for the rest of the year... If for nothing else just to see a few really nice swords. And maybe even pick up a sword worth more than a luxury car...

Michael Hackett
04-29-2008, 11:34 PM
Keith,

Are you planning on the show in SFRAN this summer? I'm thinking about making the trip as I've attended twice before and really enjoyed it.

Keith Larman
04-29-2008, 11:46 PM
Keith,

Are you planning on the show in SFRAN this summer? I'm thinking about making the trip as I've attended twice before and really enjoyed it.

I'm always at San Francisco. Brought my wife and daughter last year and we made it a sort of mini vacation. I drive up from the Los Angeles area. But yes, I'm always there...

Michael Douglas
04-30-2008, 06:03 AM
Thanks for the cross-section keith.
Is that from a sword or smaller thing?
I like the use of basically three steels there, with an interesting lamination of laminates for the two side pieces over the softer core.

dragonteeth
04-30-2008, 07:42 AM
I'd absolutely love to go, but fortunately it's too far away. I say fortunately because my son would like to go to college someday, and he certainly won't be able to if his mommy keeps feeding her steel habit! :)

Keith Larman
04-30-2008, 09:13 AM
Thanks for the cross-section keith.
Is that from a sword or smaller thing?
I like the use of basically three steels there, with an interesting lamination of laminates for the two side pieces over the softer core.

The construction complexity surprised me given the high shinogi (Yamato-den). Once the show is over I'm hoping to take the time to translate the mei's and document these more. But yes, it is katana sized. Cut about a half inch from the machi (which is where most of the samples I have are cut).

Keith Larman
04-30-2008, 09:15 AM
I'd absolutely love to go, but fortunately it's too far away. I say fortunately because my son would like to go to college someday, and he certainly won't be able to if his mommy keeps feeding her steel habit! :)

Hey, the Florida token kai is closer for you, that's in February every year... ;)

Jennifer Yabut
04-30-2008, 10:12 AM
I would love to go (even just for the opportunity to see *real* nihonto), but money is a little tight for me right now. :(

Do you also come to the blade show in Atlanta? Because one of these days, I'm going to make it a point to go down there...

Keith Larman
04-30-2008, 11:34 AM
Do you also come to the blade show in Atlanta?

I went one year a bunch of years ago. And I went to the "Blade Show West" out here before they destroyed that completely by moving it on a yearly basis. I even helped out one year with Bugei having a booth, but they stopped going as well.

Regardless, Blade Show is great if you're into production stuff because that's the overwhelming majority of what's there. I'm in that world too, of course, but my heart is in the antiques and full custom work. I probably should go again one of these years but with me doing 3 token kai a year (San Fran, Florida and Chicago), one aikido camp a year, an occasional Tai Kai, and doing an occasional presentation/lecture on swords here and there the family isn't always enthused to hear me start talking about yet another show. Not to mention wallet impact... ;)

So unless I can find a way to convince the family that visiting Georgia in the summer is somehow a fun, family vacation, it ain't happening... And my wife heard the story of Tony Alvarez burning the bottoms off his tabi doing a tameshigiri demo outside one year. That didn't exactly make her want to pack up and come...

Ron Tisdale
04-30-2008, 12:00 PM
Better tabi than feet! ;)

Best,
Ron

dbotari
04-30-2008, 01:04 PM
Keith,

I'm study iaido and kenjutsu. I'm getting to the point in my training where I am contemplating moving to shinken for my training. I was wondering, given your experience, what are the key things to look for when examining nihonto? I would like to get an antique nihonto at some point but am hesitant given my relative lack of knowledge and ability to judge quality. How do you distinguish a quality nihonto 9an one worth investing in) from a crappy wanna be or one too far gone (too damaged) to be used in iaido training?

If you could point to a source or provide some key pointers I'd greatly appreciate it.

Thanks,

Dan

Keith Larman
04-30-2008, 03:38 PM
Keith,

I'm study iaido and kenjutsu. I'm getting to the point in my training where I am contemplating moving to shinken for my training. I was wondering, given your experience, what are the key things to look for when examining nihonto? I would like to get an antique nihonto at some point but am hesitant given my relative lack of knowledge and ability to judge quality. How do you distinguish a quality nihonto 9an one worth investing in) from a crappy wanna be or one too far gone (too damaged) to be used in iaido training?

If you could point to a source or provide some key pointers I'd greatly appreciate it.

Thanks,

Dan

Well, education is always key. Blade flaws such as hagiri, fukure, etc. can be very serious as they impact the integrity of the blade. The other side of the equation (often overlooked) is that mounts also need to be rock solid for training. Too often people will buy an antique that was listed as "good for iai training" only to get a decent blade in old mounts that aren't up to snuff in terms of mounting quality even for iai let alone tameshigiri. Rarely will you find an antique in old mounts that can be safely used for training. More likely than not you should have it remounted. So factor that cost in as well.

For most "newbs" I suggest finding someone in the "sword world" you trust and let them help guide you. Just like in every "collectable" world there are no shortage of folk ready to separate you from your money. "Sure, it would be great for training!" You need to find someone who actually knows about both worlds of antiques and usage. And let them help you find that blade for you.

But as always, the best place to start is at something like a sword show. Walk the floor, pick up blades, and ask questions. And if you have someone there who knows what they're doing, ask them to spend some time with you explaining why one might not be a good choice while another might be much better.

dragonteeth
05-01-2008, 08:46 AM
I'm study iaido and kenjutsu. I'm getting to the point in my training where I am contemplating moving to shinken for my training.

I've had similar thoughts as well. I have a decent little iaito, but everything else is along the Paul Chen/Hanwei line. I never could decide if I wanted to try to find something functional in an older blade or to have something commissioned from one of the younger smiths. My problem so far is that most of what I have seen from reliable sources has been a tad too long for my comfort (I'm best with a 2-3-0 to 2-3-5). Keith, any thoughts on pros/cons of commissioned versus older in the current market?