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Old 05-04-2005, 02:56 PM   #30
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604
Re: A warning! Not the chen swords!

Michael Ellefson wrote:
The connection is that Kobayashi Sensei wasn't too fond of someone taking themselves too seriously. I meant it purely in jest.
Ah, okay, just wasn't sure what you were referring to.

True, Kobayashi had a very light hearted approach, but he also took what he did very seriously at the same time. Most of the time I let these kind of threads go because they really don't matter. Overwhelmingly most on-line today discussing swords are basing what they know on experience solely with production swords. Few have even seen a decent antique let alone a good one in good mounts. So most discussions on-line, especially comparison different swords, is much like discussions where two guys whose entire martial arts experience is limited to Mortal Combat on their Nintendo are discussing the relative merits of Aikido vs. Daito Ryu. Or Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu vs. Mugai Ryu vs. Muso Shinden Ryu vs. Katori Shinto Ryu. It is near impossible to discuss with people who don't already have a solid foundation. So much of it I just shrug and don't worry about because it ultimately has little to do with me or the stuff I tend to work on. But I do take comments which have some implication towards the integrity of people I know rather seriously. To say they're just "repackaged" blades basically waves away the hard work of a number of people.

But no, I really don't take myself all that seriously. Heck, the class I taught last week had them doing aikido to Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue". I do take swords seriously, however. So did Kobayashi sensei, by the way. Mrs. Kobayashi lent me a number of his books from his collection a few years ago to study because they're long out of print. He had apparently attended a number of very good sword shows over the years and was fairly versed in some of the better historic blades.

I just held a last legend for the first time. I liked how it is designed more for tameshigiri. Any thoughts on these blades, or levels that you would stay away from?

Feel free to e-mail me if you wish.
Last time I said anything about them I got hit with a bunch of hate mail. It is a rather personal issue to many.

I think you get what you pay for. A good sword is a combination of a properly forged and heat treated blade with good quality mounting, fit and finish. Production blades are by necessity exercises in compromise. The question is whether the compromises made are important to you or not. Or whether they impact safety or use.

Also ask whether you're buying a blade because it cuts mats well or because it is a good example of a Japanese sword. I have a $8 machete in the garage that cuts mats fantastically (I put a nasty edge on it one day to prove the exact point). But it isn't appropriate as a Japanese style sword for a traditional sword art. I've seen a couple of their early blades including a "competition" sword and found the sugata awkward (heavily koshi sori with a very awkward straight section from mid blade through the tip), the sugata totally incorrect by historic standards, and the mounting to be not what I'd want to use. But again, I have rather high standards for what I'd consider appropriate and I personally want my Japanese style sword to be, well, Japanese in style.

Your mileage may vary. If it's what you like, well, whatever floats your boat.

And to last legend fans now upset with me -- please forward all hate mail to "". Thanks.

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