Looking for a katana that will be easy to use for kata

Discussion in 'Japanese Swords and Sword Arts' started by skribs, Jun 16, 2018.

  1. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Skribs, I'm no swordsman - not even kinda-sorta - so I'll pitch in with all the expertise that statement indicates. :D

    I second the comments others have made about full tang and wrapped hilt. Those are things you want - they'll make your kata easier, and you'll look better doing it. I fully understand (though I don't participate in) the fun of what I call "flash kata": kata that aren't being performed so much for learning effective combat, but for the aesthetics of them. While Chris is right what you're looking for isn't technically an Iaito (because you're looking for something less accurate to a combat weapon), that's what I'd call it (incorrectly), and a name you might find used for it on some of the mass-market MA gear websites.

    The full tang will balance the weapon better, likely making it faster, in spite of the added weight (weight at the far end - actually, proportion of weight at the far end - matters more than total weight). A wrapped hilt will make your grip much surer, which should make your transition moves smoother. Get those things, and look for lighter weight (similar principal to the fiberglass staff) overall, and you'll probably be happier with it. I'd probably even put those three items as more important than the overall length, though that might be a mistake, since I haven't even seen the kata you're planning to use it for.
     
  2. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    What was wrong with my response? You were talking about how Taekwondo doesn't have Japanese weapons. I was clarifying that I'm not just getting a katana for "Taekwondo", but for use at my school.

    Then why make the comment about Taekwondo in general?

    Because I'm used to on this forum whenever something isn't exactly as someone else expects it to be, that their immediate assumption is that my school is a terrible school. I mentioned that me and a couple people were dealing with injuries, and "it must be a bad school if everyone is getting the same injury" (when it was 3 different injuries, one with a freak accident, one with an old injury, and me who's not sure how I injured it). I mention that we do the Palgwe forms instead of the Taegeuk forms and the veracity of all of the black belts at my school is questioned.

    I wasn't trying to present my Master as a Kendo master. He is a Taekwondo master, who at least knows a bit about the sword. I was trying to dispel the notion that I'm just learning how to use swords from someone who learned a few moves on YouTube. He's not a Kendo master, but I'm confident in his knowledge.

    And where did I say we "take a Taekwondo form and add a weapon?" I compared the sword form to our Taekwondo form, in that both involve blocks and strikes against an imaginary opponent. It's not like we're taking our yellow belt Taekwondo form and then doing the same moves and steps with a sword in our hand.

    One thing to keep in mind is that I understand we are not learning how to swordfight. We're learning the very basic motions of blocks, parries, and strikes with the sword. This is something that's part of our Taekwondo curriculum for our black belts, and consumes maybe 5% of our class time each month. It's more like a sampling than anything else (the same with our eskrimas and others).

    This is why I have specific things I'm looking for. At my next test, I have to perform our sword forms. I specifically want a sword that will make me look better performing these forms. I'm looking for something to do the demonstration with.

    I have no problem holding onto the bo staff (either finished wooden or fiberclass), the nunchaku (I use polished metal nunchaku for demonstrations and tests), or the eskrima sticks (finished wood that we're slamming against each other). Why would I have trouble holding onto a sword with a similar finish, especially if I'm not actually hitting anything with it and if I'm going after a lighter one? Heck, I have no trouble holding onto the bokken, which doesn't have a wrap. Why is the sword suddenly different?

    Okay, so maybe a lighter blade with a full tang. But I definitely need something lighter.

    Who is this message aimed at, and what is your goal in posting these links?

    Personally, I find the wrapping to be annoying for a variety of reasons:Added width to the handle
    • It's uncomfortable on my skin, especially in the transition moves
    • I think of the wrapping kind of like finger grooves on a gun - great if you have the same grip the grooves are designed for, and your hands are the same size the groove is designed for. It's just uncomfortable otherwise.
    As to my reasons for length: I want the overall length to be such that it will fit into the case I have for my weapons already. And the blade length to be a little bit easier for me to draw. I'm short (5'5") so an easier draw would be preferred.
     
  3. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    If you have found a blade you like why can't you dull the blade?
     
  4. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Do you need it to look flash or could you get away with a cold steel bokken or something.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  5. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I am not the person to do any "DIY" things. Trust me. If I tried to dull the blade at best it would look horrible. At worst I'd somehow manage to bend it in ways it shouldn't be bent.

    I would prefer it to look flashy. Otherwise I'd just use the bokken I already have.
     
  6. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Sound reasons, all. I'll speak to the issue with lacquered grips. Lacquer is much smoother than wood, and a tad of sweat makes it quite slippery. I've not worked with the smooth bo and nunchaku you refer to, so I can't speak to those, but I do know it'll be a lot slipperier than a wooden bo (even compared to most finishes on those). I find the grip on a sword is harder to maintain on a slippery weapon than with a staff, etc. - because of the balance issue (so much weight out beyond your hand, not offset by much). But you make a good point about the width of the grip. Different weapons will have different grip sizes - there will be grips small enough (wrapped or otherwise) for comfort in your hands. That leaves the discomfort of the grip, and that's a problem for training (more so than testing, IMO). Since we're not looking for a practical fighting weapon, there's no reason not to go for comfort. I'm certain I've seen some leather-wrapped ones. If I were in your shoes, I'd be thinking something like that. Heck if you found one with a small enough grip to allow for a wrap, maybe just wrap it with tennis racket or golf club grip wrap. Of course, you brought up guns, and I don't really have an issue with grip on a polymer gun, so maybe look for something with some texture, rather than smooth.

    Of course, if you find a lacquered one, and really like it, give it a shot. Worst case, it's too slippery when your hands start to sweat, and you either retire it to display, or you wrap it.
     
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  7. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    The condor would hold up. doesn't have the wrap. But it is a machete. You would cut yourself in half. Proffesionally blunt the thing?

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    If you're that bad then don't try to dull it.

    Try to sharpen it instead :D
     
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  9. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Understood. If you find one that is otherwise perfect for you and decide to try to dull the blade, use a flat bastard file straight across the edge holding the file at a 30° to 45° angle until you have a small flat area along the edge. Then remove any burrs by working the file at the same angle of the blades taper rounding the corners, making sure not to completely remove the flat surface you just created. Should look the same as new.
     
  10. frank raud

    frank raud Master Black Belt

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    "I have no problem holding onto the bo staff (either finished wooden or fiberclass), the nunchaku (I use polished metal nunchaku for demonstrations and tests), or the eskrima sticks (finished wood that we're slamming against each other). Why would I have trouble holding onto a sword with a similar finish, especially if I'm not actually hitting anything with it and if I'm going after a lighter one? Heck, I have no trouble holding onto the bokken, which doesn't have a wrap. Why is the sword suddenly different?"
    I didn't suggest you couldn't grip a wooden handle, but do you think there might be a reason that samurai swords have a specific style of wrap on the handle that is different than other weapons from the same culture? Do you think the only reason for the sword wrap is aesthetics? If your main concern is that it looks good while slicing through the air, have you considered a light saber?
     
  11. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think the right answer for the OP might be to buy sharp and then dull it (I wonder if a professional sharpener is equipped to do that?). And that one is actually a pretty good answer to the grip issue.
     
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  12. BrendanF

    BrendanF Green Belt

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    Why bother? Aren't there those lightweight, flashy things made for XMA? Seems like precisely what the OP is looking for.

    Or just wrap the bokuto with aluminium foil... maybe add a tassel or LED lighting.
     
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  13. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Part of the kata is the draw and then putting the sword back, so a lightsaber won't work. Although I do have about 30+ lightsabers around the house....

    I do think there's a reason. I also think I'm not doing the same things a samurai would do with his sword (mainly, actually fighting with it).

    I still want it to look like a real sword.
     
  14. BrendanF

    BrendanF Green Belt

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    Ah, in that case it seems the lightweight XMA type things would suit perfectly, no? I'm sorry I'm not familiar enough to offer any advice around them - including where to get them (didn't someone mention century? should surely have them?)
     
  15. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master of Arts

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    I'm with Brendan. It sounds like you're actually looking for a lightweight sword like object. Century has a whole line of them, and several other places do also. Search under "XMA swords" and you'll get quite a few hits that are the specific sort of thing you seem to be hunting. Sorry I can't make any specific recommendations, but that's not the type of sword that I practice. If it feels like you're catching a lot of flak, it's because there are a large number of traditional martial arts practitioners here that practice (or are familiar with) sword arts, and they bear no resemblance to the karate tournament circuit "weapons kata". People like different things though, so good luck in your search!
     
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  16. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I don't actually see anything under Century's website that matches what I'm looking for. Specifically, something katana-shaped without the wrap on the handle, and with the knob/cord on the sheath to secure it to my belt.
     
  17. BrendanF

    BrendanF Green Belt

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    Indeed - they seem to have wraps on the handle, and have a 'cord' on the saya rather than sageo and kurigata.

    Could you not just remove the wrap? and use the cord instead of a kurigata (knob_thing)? I'm guessing there are reasons XMA folks use these things.
     
  18. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I posted this earlier; Take a flat bastard file to the edge until you have a very small flat surface. The use the file to remove any burrs. It works well.
     
  19. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    The OP did say he's not in any way DIY inclined...

    Using a file takes a certain amount of finesse (if you disagree with that then use only a hand drill, a hacksaw and a file to make a 1" square hole in 3/8" plate and a corresponding 1" slug to fit it in any orientation, you have a tolerance of +0.0005"/-0 on the hole and +0/-0.0005" on the slug - do that and then tell me it's an easy tool that anyone can use)...

    I wouldn't use a bastard either, it'll leave a 'catchy' finish - I'd be going for at least a 2nd cut if not finer. You're not after mass stock removal here, just minor reprofiling.

    I'd disagree with that too - draw filing (file at 90° to direction of cut) would produce a much finer and more consistent finish.


    But that's by the by - if you're cack handed with a file on a slim blade it'll end up wavy at best, or saw tooth at worst.
     
  20. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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