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Old 03-25-2007, 12:09 AM   #1
TronTreez
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Help buying Katana

Hi all,

I need some help buying the right Katana. I want to spend $300 US max and want something that is authentic in terms of blade manufacture and "battle ready". Might do some light cutting with it eg tree branches or i might study martial arts later. I had a look and Paul Chen Practical Katana but comments about it make it seem fragile. I might go for Cold Steel or Cheness. Also katanas on ebay are selling for half their recommended price is it safe to buy or are these "factory seconds" or something alike. Any advice and input is appreciated

Cheers,

Tron
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Old 03-25-2007, 01:06 AM   #2
Kevin Wilbanks
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
Chris Curtis wrote: View Post
Hi all,

I need some help buying the right Katana. I want to spend $300 US max and want something that is authentic in terms of blade manufacture and "battle ready". Might do some light cutting with it eg tree branches or i might study martial arts later. I had a look and Paul Chen Practical Katana but comments about it make it seem fragile. I might go for Cold Steel or Cheness. Also katanas on ebay are selling for half their recommended price is it safe to buy or are these "factory seconds" or something alike. Any advice and input is appreciated

Cheers,

Tron
Sounds like you need to do a LOT more research. There is no such thing as a real sword for $300. The cheapest legit japanese-style swords I know of are from Bugei Trading Company, are over $1000 each, and have no "blood groove". The cheapest legit sword with the groove will be closer to twice that. Something with any antique value or renowned craftsmanship will be much more expensive still. For $300 you can get a basic aluminum Iaito, or two or three stamped-out, fake decorative swords, but nothing that is even remotely a real katana.
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Old 03-25-2007, 02:30 AM   #3
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote: View Post
Sounds like you need to do a LOT more research. There is no such thing as a real sword for $300. The cheapest legit japanese-style swords I know of are from Bugei Trading Company, are over $1000 each, and have no "blood groove". The cheapest legit sword with the groove will be closer to twice that. Something with any antique value or renowned craftsmanship will be much more expensive still. For $300 you can get a basic aluminum Iaito, or two or three stamped-out, fake decorative swords, but nothing that is even remotely a real katana.
You don't actually have to go as expensive as Bugei... some of the Chen or Last Legend forge swords are fine but you'll need to go up to $500 or $600 if I remember their pricing... I don't think you can get anything that would be worth while (and safe) for quite that cheap. (possible exceptions see below) I have a Cold Steel and while its blade is pretty much indestructible, the fittings were CR**! We did some cutting and the first time I used mine the wrappings came undone; another student had the same experience. So basically these handles needed to redone within hours after we started using them. I will probably have a decent handle put on mine and use it as my "work horse" katana (the one that no amount of bad technique will hurt) but by the time I do that, the value of the sword will be back up to what I am talking about at around $600. You get what you pay for...

That said, the Paul Chen Practical Katan Plus is just over $300 at this site. I question the quality of the fittings at this price but the blade is probably fine for a beginner to start cutting with. I would check out what the sword forums say.
http://www.imperialarmory.com/paul-chen.shtml

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-25-2007 at 02:45 AM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-25-2007, 02:54 AM   #4
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

I finally found the Last Legend site:
http://www.lastlegend.com/05kat/kumoryu/komoryu.html
Their entry level sword is in your price range. Once again, it'll be the fittings rather than the blade I'd worry about at that price.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-25-2007, 07:23 AM   #5
crbateman
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

The most knowledgeable and well-connected sword collector and dealer I know is Bob Elder Sensei at East Coast Martial Arts Supply in Orlando. He is a senior instructor in Toyama-Ryu Batto Do, and can give you loads of advice. His website is http://ecmas.com.

I will echo the previous comments that $300 isn't enough for more than an entry-level cutting sword. A pretty good one is going to cost you a thousand, and a really good one, much more than that. Good luck, and remember to count your fingers!

Last edited by crbateman : 03-25-2007 at 07:26 AM.
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Old 03-25-2007, 08:25 AM   #6
HL1978
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Re: Help buying Katana

for $300 you can get a starter iaito (unsharpened sword used for kata practice). tozando.com has a nice selection of iaito around this price range.

http://forums.swordforum.com/showthr...=second+mekugi

shows the construction of a very cheap ornamental sword. You can unstand why after viewing some of the later photos why using those for practice is a poor idea.
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Old 03-25-2007, 11:55 AM   #7
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
Chris Curtis wrote: View Post
i might study martial arts later.
I missed this the first time I went through... I didn't realize you weren't training. I think that messing about with a live blade when you have no formal training is a recipe for disaster, Unless you want to end up as a nominee for this year's Darwin awards I would disabuse myself of the notion that I should be messing about with three feet of razor sharp steel. Bad idea... Just the thought that you want to go out and start chopping tree limbs with your cheap, entry level katana is enough to give me nightmares, and if it worries me, then it should darn well worry you as you will be the recipient of whatever consequences of such reckless behavior.

The problem with buying a live blade is that there is absolutely no requirement for common sense as a prerequisite for the purchase.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-25-2007 at 11:58 AM.

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Old 03-25-2007, 01:33 PM   #8
Tim Fong
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

Curtis,

If you don't know what you're doing, you can really hurt yourself. Like this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVa0Z0eGRlk
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Old 03-25-2007, 01:35 PM   #9
mickeygelum
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
Unless you want to end up as a nominee for this year's Darwin awards I would disabuse myself of the notion that I should be messing about with three feet of razor sharp steel. Bad idea
...Thank you, Ledyard Sensei
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Old 03-25-2007, 01:55 PM   #10
JeffDuncan
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
Chris Curtis wrote: View Post
Hi all,

I need some help buying the right Katana. I want to spend $300 US max and want something that is authentic in terms of blade manufacture and "battle ready". Might do some light cutting with it eg tree branches or i might study martial arts later. I had a look and Paul Chen Practical Katana but comments about it make it seem fragile. I might go for Cold Steel or Cheness. Also katanas on ebay are selling for half their recommended price is it safe to buy or are these "factory seconds" or something alike. Any advice and input is appreciated

Cheers,

Tron
Personally I have purchased a Chen Practial Plus (also known as the fantasy model from the movie blade). Its not fancy by any means its looked down upon by some of the traditional guys I know as being an inferior sword to theirs and it is, but It has been safe, and a decent learning tool for me. The tuska is pegged so You can inspect the tang for damage, as well as adjust the fit of the parts as a whole. (a must in most places before you will be allowed to train with it)
All things including the $249. price tag considered is decent for a beginner to go with.
Although I dont recommend that you just start chopping limbs off trees (not a great idea anyways.. buy some mats and build a stand please).. if your not dedicated enough to go to a formal class to learn and progress, at least drop a little cash and ask an instructor in your area to help you with some basics before you slice your knee, foot, or worse.

I dont check the fourums much If you have a reply to me please e-mail me.. Jeff@fullcircleaikido.com

Thanks,
Jeff Duncan
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Old 03-26-2007, 02:31 AM   #11
TronTreez
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Re: Help buying Katana

Cheers for the advice guys. Yeah its probably a good idea to not do any cutting without formal training but I just wanted a good blade in case it inspired me to take up martial arts so i could use it in the future. So until then I won't do any cutting.

Tron
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Old 03-26-2007, 03:13 AM   #12
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Help buying Katana

Tron/Chris,

If you do get into a dojo and start studying, your teacher(s) will certainly have an opinion on what type (if any) sword you need to buy.

A better order for your aspiration is
1: find a legit dojo and teacher,
2: find out what sort of weapons your dojo and teacher maintain as their standard,
3: get yourself what your teacher says is the right thing.

Otherwise, you're probably out a few hundred bucks and have to buy something else anyhow.

cg

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Old 03-26-2007, 04:46 AM   #13
Michael Varin
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Re: Help buying Katana

Chris,

Get a Paul Chen practical katana or a practical plus. I think you will be pleased. I bought one seven or eight years ago and have had zero problems with it. Having said that, they are nowhere near as good as the swords at Bugei, but for less than $300 they're a good purchase. I'd recommend buying a good bokken as well.

Do not buy a cheap replica sword (like the one in home shopping video) they are crap, or an iaito, which in my opinion are a rip off because they are made of aluminum.

Quote:
George Ledyard wrote:
I missed this the first time I went through... I didn't realize you weren't training. I think that messing about with a live blade when you have no formal training is a recipe for disaster, Unless you want to end up as a nominee for this year's Darwin awards I would disabuse myself of the notion that I should be messing about with three feet of razor sharp steel. Bad idea... Just the thought that you want to go out and start chopping tree limbs with your cheap, entry level katana is enough to give me nightmares, and if it worries me, then it should darn well worry you as you will be the recipient of whatever consequences of such reckless behavior.

The problem with buying a live blade is that there is absolutely no requirement for common sense as a prerequisite for the purchase.
Swords are obviously dangerous, as are stoves. Not many of us have formal training in the use of the stove, but most everyone learns quickly not to touch the hot parts. One of the beauties of training with a live blade is that it requires your full attention. If you choose to study the sword with or without formal training there is a possibility you will be injured. Even the best swords can break. Use your reason and except responsibility for everything you do, and you'll be fine.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:12 AM   #14
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Swords are obviously dangerous, as are stoves. Not many of us have formal training in the use of the stove, but most everyone learns quickly not to touch the hot parts.
Actually, whether you remember it or not, your formal training with stoves started very early on when you first started to reach high enough to touch it. You parents gave you quite a bit of training.

The, learn as you go approach works, no doubt. All of us probably really cemented the lessons our parents had tried to instill about the stove by burning ourselves. With a sword, that approach to learning can easily be the loss of some fingers, a serious cut with nerve permanent damage or some such. Sure go ahead and muck around and take that risk or get some good instruction. I know a number of people who sustained some serious injuries even with good instruction... how much more likely would that be by taking the teach yourself method. Obviously, its a free country, anyone can buy a sword. The folks that know better will buy a good one, the folks that are on the teach yourself track tend to buy junk. Then we have the double whammy of an incompetent swordsman with an unreliable sword.

But, what the hell, if something really bad happens we can always sue the manufacturer, distributor, the landlord and anyone else handy. We always blame other folks when we get hurt doing something we never should have done in the first place...

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:32 AM   #15
Haowen Chan
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Re: Help buying Katana

Just get an iaito! It's cheap, safe, and looks good, and you can get a feel for a sword without cutting your fingers off.

You're just taking huge, unneccessary risks if you get a live blade now. Iaido practitioners train for many years before touching their first live blade.
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Old 03-26-2007, 10:14 AM   #16
Walter Wong
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Re: Help buying Katana

Chris,

I echo the feelings of acquiring the training first and then getting the appropriate sword purchase suggested by the sensei you are recieving training from. If you get a sword or iaito first before joining a dojo, you risk having that sensei not allowing what you purchased for use in their dojo and it would be a waste of money. Acquire the proper training for swordsmanship first and discuss appropriate sword purchase with your sensei. Good luck.

Regards,
Walter

Last edited by Walter Wong : 03-26-2007 at 10:17 AM.

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Old 03-26-2007, 12:33 PM   #17
James Davis
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
But, what the hell, if something really bad happens we can always sue the manufacturer, distributor, the landlord and anyone else handy. We always blame other folks when we get hurt doing something we never should have done in the first place...
Oh, aint it the truth!

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 03-26-2007, 05:27 PM   #18
Michael Varin
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
George Ledyard wrote:
But, what the hell, if something really bad happens we can always sue the manufacturer, distributor, the landlord and anyone else handy.
You must have missed what I said about accepting responsibility for everything (it was my fault for the spelling error).

Quote:
George Ledyard wrote:
We always blame other folks when we get hurt doing something we never should have done in the first place...
Speak for yourself. I don't.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 03-26-2007, 11:53 PM   #19
Kevin Wilbanks
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Re: Help buying Katana

On behalf of the landlords of the nation, I impore you: please don't sue your landlord. If you are a renter, could I interest you in a nearby public park as a location for your self-training venture?
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Old 03-27-2007, 01:50 AM   #20
TronTreez
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Re: Help buying Katana

I agree

Quote:
Chuck Gordon wrote: View Post

If you do get into a dojo and start studying, your teacher(s) will certainly have an opinion on what type (if any) sword you need to buy.

A better order for your aspiration is
1: find a legit dojo and teacher,
2: find out what sort of weapons your dojo and teacher maintain as their standard,
3: get yourself what your teacher says is the right thing.

Otherwise, you're probably out a few hundred bucks and have to buy something else anyhow.

cg
Is more logical. But something about having the presence of a "live blade" around me seems enchanting. I worst comes to worse and if I have to get a different blade I can either resell or keep it as an ornament.

I have decided on getting one of these:

Paul Chen Practical Pro SH2162 @ $250

Cheness 9260 Differentially Hardened 'Kaze' @ $280-300

Cold Steel 88BK Warrior series @ $220-280

Any comments on these blades.

Also I feel I have been unfairly treated. Just because I have no formal training in sword use doesn't mean I have more or less common sense than anyone who has. I take responsibility for own my actions. If suffer the consequences of my foolishness then only I am to blame. I also believe that with time and study it is possible for one to learn the basics of proper sword safety and use. Someone had to develop techinques on his own or there would be no sword arts today. This does not mean i will start cutting on my own however.

Chris
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Old 03-27-2007, 02:10 AM   #21
Tim Fong
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

Chris,
Oh you're absolutely right that you can do things on your own, and you shouldn't let anyone here stop you. Have you much experience with blades?

I ask you this, because at a pretty young age (maybe 11 or 12) I started playing around with different techniques of opening folding knives, both the one hand opening variety, as well as the regular Buck 110 type folders. We also got into sheath knives as a matter of course, flipping them and that kind of thing. I didn't do throwing but some of the other guys did. That was pretty normal I think , at least for my friends.

We learned a lot, about knives, as well as first aid for finger cuts. There's special finger tape just for knife cuts actually, that only sticks to itself and not the skin. Butterfly sutures and steristrips don't work that well for cuts to fingers and the hand. No one got very hurt though, unless you count the time that I cut the top of my index finger deeply enough that the fat came out. I seem to remember someone else needing stitches on his leg and forgoing them for his own self care.

Anyway, I hope you have a good first aid kit around. With the kind of injuries you can give yourself with a sword, somehow I don't think that finger cut tape is really going to cut it, so to speak.

Have you been treated "unfairly?" I guess that depends on what you mean by fairness. You asked a question, and people concerned about your physical safety gave you an answer. The fact that you don't like the answer doesn't mean you have been treated unfairly-- it just means you were hoping to get some validation and you didn't get it.

You're absolutely right that people in the past developed their own sword techniques. They tried stuff, watched other people fight, and then tried their own moves.

Have you heard the expression that a person learns more from his failures than his successes? Interesting isn't it? There is that pesky bit about how to gain live blade dueling experience though failure while keeping all limbs intact. Perhaps you are right that people on the forum haven't treated you fairly. On the other hand, live blade duels are somewhat less forgiving than internet forums, or so I'm told. The blade doesn't care what you think or how you feel, about anything.

Perhaps you could take after Duncan MacLeod and fight people in parking lots with your sword? That would certainly be a test of skill. On the other hand, what to do about guns? People are pretty dishonorable these days, unlike in the time of the samurai. I guess the sword is a more civilized weapon for a more civilized age eh? Or should I say, civilised?

Let me know how it goes.

Last edited by Tim Fong : 03-27-2007 at 02:15 AM.
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Old 03-27-2007, 03:29 AM   #22
kironin
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
Chris Curtis wrote: View Post
Cheers for the advice guys. Yeah its probably a good idea to not do any cutting without formal training but I just wanted a good blade in case it inspired me to take up martial arts so i could use it in the future. So until then I won't do any cutting.
Insert "gun" instead of "blade"
and "shooting" instead of "cutting"
and "hunting" instead of "martial arts"

Then perhaps you might understand how this sounds to someone who has trained with experts in use of a sword.

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Old 03-27-2007, 04:16 AM   #23
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
Chris Curtis wrote: View Post
Any comments on these blades.

Also I feel I have been unfairly treated. Just because I have no formal training in sword use doesn't mean I have more or less common sense than anyone who has. I take responsibility for own my actions. If suffer the consequences of my foolishness then only I am to blame. I also believe that with time and study it is possible for one to learn the basics of proper sword safety and use. Someone had to develop techinques on his own or there would be no sword arts today. This does not mean i will start cutting on my own however.

Chris
Actually, to come on a martial arts forum and make the comments you have made, people on here are being really nice to you. I think you are mistaking this place for something like
http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/
or http://swordforum.com/

Mostly what you have said has demonstrated to a complete lack of common sense. Common sense would be to know that if you wish to handle a dangerous tool it makes sense to seek out those with expertise (uncommon sense) who are willing to teach you.

If I was a trained marksman, and a person who knew nothing about guns asked me which low-end assault rifle they should buy while at the same time saying they had no intention of seeking out any training first, that just having the assault rifle might inspire them to get training in the future - maybe,
what do you think my answer would be ?

You may wish to commit foolishness, but it doesn't mean that I should be expected to assist you. Common sense would suggest you also should not be surprised or complain when people point out your foolishness.

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Old 03-27-2007, 09:33 PM   #24
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

Quote:
Chris Curtis wrote: View Post
Also I feel I have been unfairly treated.
Actually, if you can forgive a bit of humor at your expense, what you are getting is concern. No one wants to see you get hurt. Many of us know of folks who did.

Quote:
Just because I have no formal training in sword use doesn't mean I have more or less common sense than anyone who has.
This may very well be true. But the average level of common sense out there is notoriously low, so that's not making me feel better about you and the sword.

Quote:
I take responsibility for own my actions. If suffer the consequences of my foolishness then only I am to blame.
I have no doubt of you willingness to take the consequences of your actions. However, there are countless people out there living with the consequences of their actions that wish sincerely they had it to do differently again.

Quote:
I also believe that with time and study it is possible for one to learn the basics of proper sword safety and use. Someone had to develop techniques on his own or there would be no sword arts today.
Yes, this is true but ignoring the hundreds of years of experience that developed the proper ways to do things condemns you to duplicating the mistakes of the past. Why try to reinvent the wheel, especially when many of the folks that went before you paid a fairly high price for the lessons learned? Get some instruction.

Get an iaito and practice like crazy with it for a long time before you decide to play with a live blade. the only exception to this would be finding a competent instructor who would supervise your training and teach you to avoid the pitfalls. In fact, many instructors will insist that you start with an iaito anyway.

Quote:
This does not mean i will start cutting on my own however.
Chris
This is where your above average common sense shows through. The average idiot would ignore us and do what he wanted anyway.

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Old 03-28-2007, 04:08 AM   #25
crbateman
 
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Re: Help buying Katana

Chris, even the most accomplished sword practitioners have accidents. There is a very famous video of a senior Japanese devotee, who, during an exhibition, cleanly sliced off his entire thumb while drawing his katana. The video captures the severed digit flying across the stage in a majestic arc. What people are trying to tell you is that your chances to avoid such a mishap would improve if you were less cavalier in your approach to training with a live weapon. It's nothing for you to get upset about, it's just a fact.
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