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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct, 2007 11:23 am    Post subject: special on PBS         Reply with quote

Not my cup of tea- but should get a good laugh if nothing else. . . .

For our Japanese sword fans PBS is doing special tonight on the. . . . . DRUM ROLL PLEASE. . . .
Samurai sword.

Facinating (cynicism abounds)
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct, 2007 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually their website makes it look ok. Several weird statements (a Gassan Sadatoshi blade will sell for tens, not hundreds, of thousands of dollars - why exaggerate? And "defects make metal stronger?" That's an awkward way to talk about work hardening), but mixed in with some better-than-average-TV-special info and footage. I might check it out just to see how well (or poorly) it's done.
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct, 2007 1:25 pm    Post subject: Re: special on PBS         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
Not my cup of tea- but should get a good laugh if nothing else. . . .

For our Japanese sword fans PBS is doing special tonight on the. . . . . DRUM ROLL PLEASE. . . .
Samurai sword.

Facinating (cynicism abounds)


lol I know what you mean, not my thing either. I'd be much more interested on a special of the single early medieval single handed swords but hey, that's just personal preference. Yes, katana aren't the favorite sword of most here, but still, lets be a little more respectful. I'm going to try to watch it just to see if they say anything degrading about medieval sword in which case I'll be back here ranting Wink

In short, respect others preferences. Katanas are over talked about, for the most part, but they are still absolutely amazing weapons - just like all swords. A special on them doesn't really need to be degraded, does it?



Grayson
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Torsten F.H. Wilke




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct, 2007 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriel Lebec wrote:
And "defects make metal stronger?" That's an awkward way to talk about work hardening

Gabriel, they may be referring to interstitial defects on the atomic level instead of work hardening on a macro scale.

Adulterating the crystal lattice structure of a metal with alloying atoms of different size usually puts an internal pre-load on the whole structure resulting in a material exhibiting greater strength. Work hardening defects are only minute mechanically propagated slip-plane faults in the structure resulting in weakness.

An interesting side-note; Modern engineering believes that the key to ultra super strength materials lies in achieving "perfect" atomic lattice structures without slip-planes or adverse contaminants. I have read that the theoretical strengths of pure metals should be around a thousand times stronger than existing regular alloys. Imagine what kind of blades or armour, let alone practical applications, could be made...
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct, 2007 3:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Torsten F.H. Wilke wrote:

An interesting side-note; Modern engineering believes that the key to ultra super strength materials lies in achieving "perfect" atomic lattice structures without slip-planes or adverse contaminants. I have read that the theoretical strengths of pure metals should be around a thousand times stronger than existing regular alloys. Imagine what kind of blades or armour, let alone practical applications, could be made...


Finally the UFO metal sword! Cool Cool

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct, 2007 6:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Torsten, thanks for the explanation.

I just finished watching this on HD. It was mediocre. Full of fluff: computer graphics, movie footage, slight editorializing here and there. I also wasn't as interested in the martial arts segments or even the brief historical anecdotes, even though they would be fine for general audiences (the arrow cutting was a neat trick though). Most of the decent footage - the Gassan Sadatoshi blade forging and the polishing - I had seen elsewhere, possibly on Paul Martin's NihontoTV YouTube clips.

The one thing I did enjoy was the tatara footage, which I don't believe I had seen before.

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct, 2007 6:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The content centered on the various craftsmen in the production chain keeping their traditions alive was neat.

Some of the enthusiasm by western experts could have done with a bit of tempering.

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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct, 2007 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Atleast they refrained from having an "expert" expound on the inherent superiority of the katana as compared to European swords. Well they did have that one guy Confused
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct, 2007 9:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"That one guy" is Stephen Turnbull, a well-known military historian who may be an expert on Japanese military history, but who is emphatically not an expert on nihonto. He has a history of overblown and inaccurate statements regarding Japanese arms and armour, as well as blatantly incorrect statements regarding European or any other non-Japanese arms and armour - confounding given that he has written a couple books on European battles. His brief appearance was enough to turn me off of this special, but that's more a personal pet peeve of mine than anything.

As flawed as online discussion can be in this study, I believe that it has had at least one major contribution, which is that it has yielded a much more cosmopolitan general understanding of arms and armour.

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
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Shawn Henthorn




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Oct, 2007 6:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree Gabriel, I really hate Turnbull. However inspite of his presence it still did not degenerate into a "how much europeans are stupid/ how great the Japanese are" knid of show. I was kinda suprised. Eek!
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Oct, 2007 8:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am no expert, and really no bachelor on the subject of the japanese sword,

I, in general, love Nova- they usually have great programs and this one really could have been much worse. For me personally I would have wished that they explained WHY these smiths go to such extremes with the process or making steel. You guys know that they do this because they have to due to the RELATIVE poor source of iron in Japan- the iron rich sand- sorry I don't know what it is called.
Bottom line- the smiths engage in such lengthy processes partially out of historical and mildly religious idealogy but really because they have to to make something that works.

It is cool that the japanese smiths have found a way to utilize what they have to make a really beautiful and functional work of art.

Still not my cup of tea. I can't tell the difference between a tsuka-maki and a futo-maki. Big Grin

Jeremy
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Oct, 2007 8:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The NOVA program wasn't bad at all, considering some of the stuff which has been on television about arms and armour. I am no fan of Turnbull's, either, but at least they kept his contribution to a minimum. There were a few superlative adjectives which I could have dispensed with, but the writer did avoid obnoxious comparisons of Japanese swords with European ones.

Hopefully, it will pique some interest in sword making in general, which is always a good thing.
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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Oct, 2007 5:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Everytime I hear, read or watch some guy go off on how superior the Japanese Sword "Katana" is superior to the European Sword I want to strangle the pompous, uninformed, biased, ignoramous! Evil Laughing Out Loud Or on how the Samurai was the most efficient warrior.
Better? No! Different? Yes!

I sure hope this post does not start another one of those Japanese Samurai VS European Knight scenarios again!

Please, please don't do that! Eek!

Bob
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Oct, 2007 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Over on the Nihonto Message Board there is a thread by a new enthusiast who says that this special, and more specifically the work of Gassan Sadatoshi, has sparked his newfound enthusiasm for the subject. So despite the small criticisms mentioned, I'd say that it's at least been successful from that crucial standpoint. Happy
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Oct, 2007 12:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriel: As a Katana fan, what is your take on the bias the media shows towards the Katana?
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Oct, 2007 1:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriel Lebec wrote:
*snip*(the arrow cutting was a neat trick though)*snip*

About that trick. Is there any evidence for that sort of thing working on the battlefield? To me, it looked like a clever parlor trick, with absolutely no martial merit. The only way he would impress me with it was if he could do it with an archer who was antagonistic to him was doing the shooting (as opposed to his daughter) from an unrehearsed distance. If he could pull that off, then that would be a useful technique...

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Oct, 2007 3:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin Smith wrote:
About that trick. Is there any evidence for that sort of thing working on the battlefield? To me, it looked like a clever parlor trick, with absolutely no martial merit. The only way he would impress me with it was if he could do it with an archer who was antagonistic to him was doing the shooting (as opposed to his daughter) from an unrehearsed distance. If he could pull that off, then that would be a useful technique...


I have never seen any evidence to suggest that it was ever used as a battlefield technique. But that doesn't mean it isn't impressive to do. Happy

All cultures have their own versions showmanship mixed with danger. Everything from this to leaping over cars in a motorcycle. As long as we keep in perspective that the purpose is for show and not for fighting, I don't see anything wrong with it.

As an aside, the 15th century German master Lechuckner described "joke" wrestling moves and flashy techniques to use in the fenching school mixed into his combat manuscript. Almost everything he taught was serious martial arts, but he had a sense of humor, and had many techniques that were far too complicated and ridiculous to use for real, but certainly showed off one's skill in a non-antagonistic situation. Personally, that's aspect is fascinating to me. But I'm going way off-topic. Happy

I unfortunatley missed the episode. I do hope, as Gabriel pointed out, that these types of efforts will spark interest even if they aren't perfect.

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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Oct, 2007 6:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Robin,
Robin Smith wrote:
About that trick. Is there any evidence for that sort of thing working on the battlefield? To me, it looked like a clever parlor trick, with absolutely no martial merit.

I really have no idea about it, that TV special was the first I've seen it done and I don't know how it was set up. Old prints and scrolls are fond of showing charging samurai cutting their way through a storm of arrows but as Bill mentioned I highly doubt that there's anything practical about it at all. I would be interested in comments from the JSA side of the fence.
Robin Smith wrote:
Gabriel: As a Katana fan, what is your take on the bias the media shows towards the Katana?

This is not entirely off-topic, but I sat on my reply for a while because I didn't want this thread to be sidetracked into an East-vs-West thread, nor did I want to start an East-vs-West thread - those have been done to death and are not very productive. I've decided to PM you with my full reply, and for the sake of this thread my basic summary is this: I believe that the different philosophies, intents, standards of beauty, cultural attitudes, historic progression of technology, and eventual cultural exchange have all contributed to today's wide and unfair disparity of respect for Japanese vs European/other arms and armour.

As loath as I am to write as much as I have in that PM and then not submit it for public discussion, I really think that it would neither fit here nor remain on-topic for long as a separate thread on the modern popular perception of different arms and armour (as opposed to a topic on the actual differences between A&A of different cultures). However, If anyone else is genuinely burning with curiosity to hear me wax poetic on poorly-substantiated personal opinions, they can PM me for it. Wink

Cheers,
-GLL

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Oct, 2007 9:04 pm    Post subject: Re: special on PBS         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
Not my cup of tea- but should get a good laugh if nothing else. . . .

For our Japanese sword fans PBS is doing special tonight on the. . . . . DRUM ROLL PLEASE. . . .
Samurai sword.

Facinating (cynicism abounds)


I missed this, might consider buying the DVD ... but I had an interesting -- might seem a bit
silly, too -- thought after reading some of the responses. I've never taken part in a My Sword
Is Better Than Your Sword!
thread. That's truly not my cup o' tea, as the idea of one blade
being superior to another might -- at the end of the day -- well be defined by how efficiently it
could kill. And in that sense, well, to paraphrase a cliche I think we all hear, swords don't kill
people; people kill people ...


But I'm kinda straying, forgive me. My thought was that it might be fun doing something that Boxing
often does. Create a " fantasy " Pound For Pound Ranking for swords. Now, I'm not historian
enough OR craftsman enough to render categories by which one might somehow rate one sword
above or below another. It might end up that the categories could be reduced to something like ...
Historical Significance ... Mastery Of The Metal ... Hereditary Lineage ... Longevity Of Design ... And
each sword, as it is matched against the category, recieves points ( 1 thru 5 ) ... etc etc ... Mind you,
I'm just playing with ideas as they come to me. There are probably people better than I here at
myArmoury who could come up with a more direct structure. But hopefully you get the idea.

Such a Pound For Pound List might end up looking like this ....

1. The Polish Hussar Saber ( hehe, yer dang right I'm bias ! )
2. The Chinese Dao
3. The Viking Broadsword
4. The Japanese Katana
5. The Roman Gladius
6. The European Two-Handed Broadsword
7. The European Single-Handed Broadsword.
8, The Rapier
9, The Napoleonic Hussar Saber
10. The Philipine Dha

Sincerely, though, I'd think the big trick in discussing comparisons between sword types is
doing one's utmost to avoid terms like superiority and being able to embrace objectivity, no
matter how difficult it might be, when fact dictates the obvious.
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Mon 15 Oct, 2007 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The best sword is always the best one you can get, not the one you can't have. Swordmaking is an industrial activity that produces tools for a market. In the days when swords were real weapons, they were mostly distributed within limited markets that never allowed the different types to be used in competition against one another. Talk about comparisons of Crusader versus Muslim weapons during the Crusades makes sense because they were used on the same battlefields, but comparison of Japanese versus European weapons during the era when there was no contact between Japan and Europe is pretty pointless. Whatever we care to imagine about their comparative usefulness remains hypothetical.
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