Re: Research on Japanese swords
Obata sensei and his shinkendo folks often use hand made swords for their cut testing. He even mentions a reputable stateside smith in his book "Shinkendo" (the smith's name escapes me). They probably cost more than $1,000.00, however. Not only will a "museum piece" cut much better than a factory blade, it will last much longer (and already has). Nevertheless, selecting a blade is always a trade-off. You can spend literally any amount of money on a real weapon. There is no need for the average practitioner to get an ancient sword, but there are very real advantages to getting a sword hand made from a high carbon steel, forged to shape, differentially tempered with an active hamon, well proportioned (almost half as thick as it is wide), with a full tang, and beveled appropriately (katana are NOT sharp, they have a chopping edge similar to that of a wood splitting maul). These elements can be had for a reasonable price with some research and patience, and will have an clear effect on the weapon's lasting value, cutting ability, fortitude, and authenticity. If you are going to practice a traditional and sacred art, why do it with something pooped out of a CNC machine?