Monday, 21 July 2014

Product Review: Japanese sword, tanto

In my opinion there are two sorts of sword collectors: the display artist and the appreciator.

I'm not saying the 'appreciator' doesn't also display and enjoy the aesthetic of their swords but there is a distinct difference between the appreciation of swords for their intrinsic, historical value and the appreciation of swords for only how they look hung on the wall.

I was approached by Swords of The East to write up a product review and as my initial interaction with James at SOTE was very good I thought…why not! SOTE sells all manner of swords, katana and tanto as well as other historical replicas. James has a very professional manner and I was impressed with his customer service. He kept me up to date with the whole delivery process and I received it when he said, although I had a nasty surtax surprise of 35 Euro-bucks to pay for the delivery to Brussels. Ho-hum.

For a glossary of sword parts follow here:

And so to the tanto. This musashi ceremonial tanto is delivered in a cloth bag within an ornate box and includes a with a jade ornament with tassel. The tanto itself certainly seems to have all the right features on it such as a hamon and yokote but it just doesn't feel the real deal to me. The blade isn't quite straight (although it does fit snugly into the saya) and the proportions of the tanto handle and the blade don't appeal to me with the tanto blade seeming too thin to me. Furthermore the shitodome fitting (where the hole on the side of the scabbard is) is not of the highest quality. In short this is a modern, Chinese made display tanto and not my cup of tea. I would put the money for this towards something more expensive but authentic.

The positive side to this, though, is that when you buy this tanto from SOTE you'll get good service and frankly, a piece of kit at a reasonable price. It's pretty and those people looking for an ornate 'hanger' probably won't be disappointed at all.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Guinness World Record for Breaking Tiles

Congratulations to Lisa Dennis's Guinness record on tile-breaking! She smashed 1000 roof tiles in 83.98 seconds. Although I respect this woman I don't feel that breaking is particularly useful and is something I've never really enjoyed doing. Does any martial artist really look forward to breaking tests? I've broken tiles, bricks and wooden boards but I don't think it's necessary for testing *martial arts* prowess.

She's got guts, that's for sure and a fighting spirit which are both needed for martial arts development but you can do this without smashing tiles. Equally you can prove you have these qualities in other ways more related to martial arts practice.

The line we were fed when told to break masonry was that we had to prove the 'destructive' power of our technique and to do this we had to smash through a variety of building materials in a kind of frenzied demolition exercise. I'm sure I've destroyed the equivalent of a garden outhouse in my time but for what purpose?

It hurts, it damages your bones and gives you calluses on your hands. We train our bodies so that when we need it in a self defence situation we are ready but actually I aim to never get into a situation where I need to use it. It would have to be a case where I was pushed into a corner and I was physically threatened. As I said though my aim is to avoid this and up to now, it has worked.

I'm sure the work I put into training my body in technique and body movement would compensate for slightly softer knuckles.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Karate is not about beating up the other guy

I didn't say this, Geoff Thompson did…
Check out this interview / lecture. Fascinating insights into one man's journey in the martial arts and how it can help you to master your fears.