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Chris Artman




Location: USA
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PostPosted: Fri 23 May, 2008 3:42 pm    Post subject: Recommendations for High Quality Katana?         Reply with quote

I am looking for recommendations for a Katana.

So far I am interested in the Bugei Lion Dog which costs $3,390.00, although I'm not sure if it is available for less....

http://bugei.com/product_1180_detailed.htm

I'm looking for reccomendations in regards to quality for the price, what is your favorite.

The only problem I have with the Bugei Lion dog is that it comes from Paul Chen's plant in China... I think I would prefer a custom Katana for this price range. What are your opinions on a high quality Katana?
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Fri 23 May, 2008 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

These are only available new through Bugei because they are manufactured specifically for them. Although the entire Hanwei katana line benefits form the ongoing developments that have been a byproduct of Bugei and Hanwei working together, this association also assures that the Bugei swords are done to higher standards than the rest of the Hanwei katana. Not only is is not the same production line, the swords also undergo inspection and sometimes adjustment once received in country.

Considering the turnover on the secondarry market; Unless looking for a particular model with specifc dimensions, it can make sense to look for bargains in the classifieds. There are often more than Bugei swords floating around for sale and even here at myArmoury, you can find premium swords in good shape for less than new cost.

If the sword is to be just admired, that level of cost can also net some antiques. Although the vast majority in that price range are nothing spectacular, it is possible to find swords that display well and have complete mounts for that amount of money. Also, in the same frame of mind, antique wakisahi are often a good bit less money and can be a really good value.

A great many Bugei end up as display swords and this makes no sense to me. I'd rather have a mediocre old sword for display than a crisp modern user that wouldn't be. I have a katana I cut with and it spends most of the time hanging in a bag. If I wanted a more expensive sword for display, the antiques is were the money would go. That said, I like the way Citadel swords look and if I was going to jump at less than a Japanese made sword, these would be my choice. Shadow of The Leaves is (I believe) the only U.S. retailer. I did almost buy an older Cicada Forge piece that came up here in the past couple of years. Bargains like that do come up. The high end regular Hanwei line swords are also decent bang for the buck. Some argue they are as good as the Bugei line but there is still more than a superficial difference. It is not really a primary focus for me, I'm sure others will have suggestions.

Cheers

GC
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Scott Kowalski




Location: Oak Lawn, IL USA
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PostPosted: Fri 23 May, 2008 5:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is another place to look that is all about katanas. Not my cup of tea but they also have info about European swords though the modern section seems to be over run by the Kat crowd.

http://forums.swordforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=157

Scott
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Russ Thomas
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PostPosted: Fri 23 May, 2008 10:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris,

If you are thinking of spending that kind of money, then I would certainly think of buying a genuine sword. Here for example is a beautiful blade, a genuine antique, and a stunning looking piece. Admittedly it is in shirasaya, but it is the blade that is important ........IMHO Happy This will never depreciate in value.........

Just a thought.

http://www.nihontoantiques.com/fss222.htm

Regards,

Russ

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero !


http://www.living-history.no
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Bennison N




Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Sat 24 May, 2008 5:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://masterforge.co.uk/

http://www.e-sword.jp/

Try these places, the first place has reasonably priced custom Katana, and the second has good authentic, and mostly historical japanese swords of many types.

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

अजयखड्गधारी
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 24 May, 2008 7:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think you want to be cautious with your money at this point, Chris. Specially if this is your
first Japanese-style sword purchase ...

Its not that you can't find a nice blade, but ask yourself exactly what you want in relation
to exactly what you know about Japanese Swords ... or ... more importantly Japanese-style
swords.

Depending on how serious you are in your interest and cause, take some time to look beyond
the cosmetics advertised on various websites. If you have the patience, bump into a forum or
two and try to find someone in the know that doesn't have an elitist-attitude about what various
companies advertise about their " katana " ...

I've owned and parted with Hanwei blades and Bugei blades, which -- to my knowledge -- are
Japanese-STYLE swords made in China. This is not necessarily a knock on Chinese-made
products, mind you. I enjoyed owning them because they helped introduce me to the far more
impressive history / culture / process tied into what a REAL Japanese sword exemplifies ....

It has been my finding that a sword custom-made by any acreditted Japanese sword-smith is
not going to be cheap. And I'd be extra-careful about said swords in the LOW-thousand dollar
range.

Again, its not that you might be cheated, or unhappy with your purchase, but in these lean times
spending thousands of dollars on a sword might require a little more examination ...
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 24 May, 2008 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In fact, L.S. Lawrence has a great Japanese-style sword up in the classifieds made by
Rick Barrett, a custom sword-smith. I've valued LS' insights in the past, and he might
be willing to share some thoughts or links with you ...
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Chris Artman




Location: USA
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PostPosted: Sat 24 May, 2008 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank-you all so much for getting the ball rolling... I will take my time with this particular purchase. Hey, it is easy to buy Albion swords, you can't go wrong Happy But this is a much different subject that needs some good reading and research first...
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Allen Andrews




Location: Maine USA
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PostPosted: Sat 24 May, 2008 1:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have been having great fun with my katana purchase. I bought a bare blade and habaki from a well respected smith named Ron Macy. I bought a simple fuchi/kashira made by Patrick Hastings, and I am having a copper tsuba made by another artist. I found some outstanding antique shi shi menuki ar AOI-Art. Next year I plan to have the saya and tsuka made, then the final polish. When I am all done it will cost in the area of $4000. Sure it is a lot of money, but it will be totally unique and of high quality. The down side is that after I have the final polish done, I doubt I will want to cut with it Happy
" I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood. "

Faramir son of Denethor

Words to live by. (Yes, I know he's not a real person)
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Sat 24 May, 2008 7:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Artman wrote:
I will take my time with this particular purchase... this is a much different subject that needs some good reading and research first...


That's a good approach. :-) Speaking of reading: The Paper Armoury: Japanese Swords.

You have received good advice already. I would second Matthew's point: what exactly do you want? Display or use, production or custom, antique or modern, strictly traditional or high quality by general standards? Nihonto (genuine Japanese) or not? Obviously, learning more about the subject should help sort out the above questions.

A related issue is what you mean by "high quality." The sky is the limit when it comes to the artistry and price of a Japanese sword; by pointing out the Lion Dog, we have been focusing on the $3k range; but just as an example, here is a gorgeous Komiya Yasumitsu for ~$14,000, or an historically significant Bizen Kanemitsu that has no price listed but is probably worth over $200,000.

You see the need to define a goal and budget I expect. ;-)

Anyway, if you have to scratch that itch now, I second the recommendations of the katana by Rick Barret in the classifieds (American custom Japanese-style smiths can be a superb value, and Rick Barret is no slouch), or the Echizen antique (NTHK papered, no flaws, 300+ years old, good workmanship? For $3k that's pretty fair) for sale by Moses at Nihonto Antiques. If your interest is in nihonto I also suggest looking at the commercial links section of Dr. Stein's excellent Japanese Sword Guide.

Good luck,
-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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P. Cha




PostPosted: Mon 26 May, 2008 12:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.martialartswords.com/

They are kinda like the albion for JSA people.
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Chris Artman




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Oct, 2008 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.martialartswords.com/product_info....ucts_id=11

hmmm...
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2008 12:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, that's a good one. I like shinogi zukuri geometry a lot. And in stock too Happy .
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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2008 1:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Artman wrote:
Thank-you all so much for getting the ball rolling... I will take my time with this particular purchase. Hey, it is easy to buy Albion swords, you can't go wrong Happy But this is a much different subject that needs some good reading and research first...

FWIW, I tend to view Bugei and Albion as offering essentially the same thing in Japanese and European form; somewhat expensive but extremely well-made production swords. The main question, which was already addressed, is what do you intend to do with it? Bugei is a purpose-driven company and their swords are designed with tameshigiri in mind, which I understand it a big area of practice at James Williams' dojo. For that reason, Bugei's quality control is far beyond what you'd find on a typical Hanwei weapon, and many of Hanwei's recent improvements are due to Bugei pushing them for their own product line.

Just so my bias is aired, I own a Lion Dog. I haven't seen it yet, so I can't give you a review at this time. It's at Keith Larman's shop getting two inches nipped off the tsuka. It was an expensive weapon, but I ordered it around the time I ordered an Albion Svante, so I had some perspective. I'm not sure what I intend to do with mine. Tameshigiri is not too big in Aikido, so unless I go to some of James' seminars, it might end up spending most of its time on the stand while my bokken gets all the action. I'm still happy I have it though. I looked around for a good sword when I was stationed in Japan and found them to be either prohibitively expensive or geared more for tourists. I personally like the martial arts focus that Bugei brings to the table, even if they are made in China.

There are also swordsmiths like Rick Barrett, Howard Clark and Michael Bell if you want to go custom (Dragonfly Forge even has a tamahagane option, if you're hard core like that), but they will be more expensive.

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Chris Artman




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2008 10:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, the one thing I like about going with The Lion dog is that you get the Katana and the Tanto as a set. It seems like the 31"/15" (largest) is not in stock. I have no idea how long the backorder is either. Why are you having two inches removed?

The less expensive but also very nice Shirayuri Katana does not come with a tanto or wakizashi. I have no idea how to compare the katana of the Lion Dog with the shirayuri katana.

Earlier in this thread, someone also mentioned Citadel Katanas. I also did some google searching and some reviews: it seems they have gone to the vegas blade show. I plan on going to the Vegas Blade show this year, which would be my first time.
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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2008 10:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Artman wrote:
Well, the one thing I like about going with The Lion dog is that you get the Katana and the Tanto as a set. It seems like the 31"/15" (largest) is not in stock. I have no idea how long the backorder is either. Why are you having two inches removed?

James likes his tsuka long. Very long. I ordered the 31/15, but 15 inches is just outside the point where it becomes awkward for me. 13 inches is still longer than the average tsuka, but it feels more comfortable. I made an improvised bokken and kept cutting down the length to see what felt best. 31 inches felt good because it was the longest, and I'm conditioned by Western fencing to be used to a 35 inch blade. The tsuka length was determined by pure comfort factor. I hear Summerchild Polishing is scaling back its operation, so I might have gotten it in just under the wire to have an adjustment done. But if you're comfortable with a 15 inch tsuka, the stock length should be fine. In the final analysis, I was really just nitpicky. Happy

Usually, the SOP is to ask one's sensei and buy a sword with the precise dimensions required for your school, but Aikido doesn't generally care much about live blades, so I took some liberties and went with personal taste (and James is usually the first to say that what feels best for you is correct from a classical perspective). Coincidentally, the dimensions of my Lion Dog come out very close to the dimensions of my Svante, with the exception of a 2.5 inch difference in blade length. Big Grin

As for the tanto, that was a big selling point for me as well. I don't study Ni Ten Ichi Ryu and I have no real desire to wear the badge of a military caste that I do not personally belong to, so a wakazashi wasn't really something I was that interested in. But an o-tanto was perfect to complete the set. And the katanakake is very unique as well. I don't like the standard style that those come in. The Lion Dog's stand (and the one offered by Kingfisher Woodworks) is more aesthetically pleasing, IMHO. All things considered, I'm very happy with the purchase. If I had gone fully custom, I think I would have ended up with something very similar. Perhaps with an Inari/kitsune theme instead of a shi-shi, but there I go nitpicking again. Happy

Hopefully, the sword will be ready when I get back to the States for Christmas. If you haven't made a decision by then, I'd be happy to share my thoughts once I see her.

EDIT: I just noticed that you're in San Francisco. I'll be in Sacramento if you want to just drive over and have a look for yourself.

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Stephan Johansson




Location: Borås Sweden
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2008 1:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Does anyone has book recommendations for an introduction to japanese swords?

Best Regards
Stephan
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Sam Barris




Location: San Diego, California
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2008 2:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephan Johansson wrote:
Does anyone has book recommendations for an introduction to japanese swords?

The Paper Armoury: Japanese Swords

I own the first and third books on that list and they're both excellent. The only thing I can think to add is The Art of Japanese Sword Polishing.

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Stephan Johansson




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2008 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you!
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Chris Artman




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2008 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I called and put a deposit down on the 31/15 Lion Dog. They aren't expected in until early 2009.


Quote:
I have been having great fun with my katana purchase. I bought a bare blade and habaki from a well respected smith named Ron Macy. I bought a simple fuchi/kashira made by Patrick Hastings, and I am having a copper tsuba made by another artist. I found some outstanding antique shi shi menuki ar AOI-Art. Next year I plan to have the saya and tsuka made, then the final polish. When I am all done it will cost in the area of $4000. Sure it is a lot of money, but it will be totally unique and of high quality. The down side is that after I have the final polish done, I doubt I will want to cut with it


That certainly sounds like the most fun and very meaningful.

However, my time is limited lately, and I think the Lion Dog is a reasonable purchase for me. Along with Sam's comments, I think the Lion dog should be a nice set. I really like the others mentioned also. If I desire more in the future, I'll spend more time on those... whether it be for use, display, or just a beater...
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