Looking for an Iaito

Discussion in 'Japanese Swords and Sword Arts' started by HawkHunt, Jul 27, 2016.

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  1. HawkHunt

    HawkHunt White Belt

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    Yet another question from me!

    I am looking for an Iaito, as you probably guessed from the title.
    I have also had contact with my Instructor and he did not have good news for me. The swords he recommends are all WAY above what I can afford to spend within the foreseable future.

    Am I just straight up bound to practise with a Bokken for the next 2 years or is there another way?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Quality trumps quantity.

    I am assuming your sensei made a recommendation based on quality. With things like swords, quality is important and can prevent serious injury as well as frustration in the training process.

    I suggest you follow his recommendation. If that is currently outside of your financial means, then shelve it for later.
     
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  3. HawkHunt

    HawkHunt White Belt

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    Yeah he did, Balance and quality is the most important thing after all.

    I guess my bokken will have to do for now. Ohh well could be worse!

    Any pointers for brands that I should look out for when i do get the funds for buying that coveted iaito?
     
  4. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I don't know anything about it. Once again, it sounds like your sensei should be able to give you appropriate guidance.
     
  5. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    As Michael said, your instructor is the ultimate authority you should talk to about it. I can give you some recommendations based on my own experience, but always get approval before buying anything for class.
    That being said, most of the Japanese iaito resellers are a pretty safe bet. I have heard some complaints over the last year or two about quality of fit with Minosaka brand lower end iaito, but I've not seen one with a problem myself. Tozando is probably my favorite shop, with a large selection, good quality, and reasonable prices. They also have good customer service if something turns out to be wrong. I have also had good experiences with Meirin Sangyo, Yamato Budogu, and All Japan Budogu. Stay away from the less expensive Chinese made iaito, as they tend to be not wrapped or balanced nearly as well as the Japanese made ones.
     
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  6. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Save up for the good gear. We get this all the time in HEMA. We get people asking if motocross jackets, hockey gloves, welding gloves or whatever are good for sparring. They ain't. Yes, a good set of gloves is going to be over 200 dollars. How much are your hands worth? Your sensei is the best person to listen to in this regard. Cheap gear is generally unsafe. Better to save up and build your kit over time.
     
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  7. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    I can suggest, based on the quality of their blades Japanese Katana | Traditional Filipino Weapons

    For weight and balance they give you the stats so check to see if they meet your needs.

    Swords

    Runs the whole range of pricing a quality.
     
  8. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Oh, good god, no.... absolutely none of that would be recommended at all.
     
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  9. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    I thought Thaitsuki Nihonto made quality blades? Admittedly I do not know if there are specific needs for Iaido.

    Also while inexpensive I can attest to the quality of TFW blades, though again, without knowing the specific properties of a blade for Iaido, I don't know if the specs on the blade in particular are appropriate.

    Just asking for the details behind the comment.
     
  10. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    They're okay budget end cutters, but really not that good for Iaito... and, like most budget end products, should be thoroughly inspected prior to any actual use, as the quality and fit of the fittings are not always consistent.
     
  11. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    I will bow to your expertise in this regard, just want to explain my logic.

    Well I don't have personal experience with the Thaitsuki, I was just going on reputation there. Seeing how the price point compares to Albion (more familiar with them) European weapons I figured better than a "budget" cutter. I will also admit I was looking at other sports. I have a $7000.00 bicycle, I would have raced just fine on a $2000 grand one.

    Disclaimer for TFW: no experience with their Katanna's just their Filipino style blades.

    The TFW blades seem to just have their price point because of their place of Manufacture. I have handled more than a few and the no issues (Filipino blades only). I was actually blown away by the price for not just the quality but attention to detail. As an example, there are Filipino blades designed only for warfare and some that have dual purpose (warfare and light camp work, brush clearing etc). They get the balance, edge geometry, spine thickness, etc spot on for each one. Usually with "budget" companies, in my experience, they just make it look the part, even if the blade doesn't actually have the requisite properties.

    But again, your the expert. Just out of a sense of curiosity what is the upper limit of pricing for "budget" cutters?
     
  12. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yeah... the thing here is that we're not talking about cutting blades, we're talking about Iaito here... which is a bit different. That said, it's not uncommon for weapons that are shaped to resemble Japanese blades miss the mark in a number of ways (largely in weight and balance, which leads to alterations and problems in technique, and more), so that, combined with the inherent issues in the category for fittings, wrappings etc, leaves them to not be a recommendation for an Iaito.

    What they're reasonable for, though, is as an inexpensive cutter for basic (beginner, commonly) tameshigiri. To give an idea, I have two shinken that I use as "dojo cutters"... both are rather inexpensive (about $600-$700AU), and have some fairly different qualities. The first I got, for example, has a pretty heavy, wide blade... which makes it easier for a student to let the weight of the sword move through a target, as well as featuring a larger kissaki, to give a broader cutting area... but both those factors are the opposite to what you'd like in an Iaito. My other is actually pretty close to my main Iaito (length, weight), but the balance is still a bit off, the wrapping isn't as tight, so it takes a bit more looking after to ensure it is still usable each time without maintenance.

    In regards to the "upper limit", well, that's personal... most "budget" cutters, from my perspective, would be under a grand... with "entry point" ones up to two grand... serious blades are three, four... ten grand and up.
     
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  13. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    Roger, I totally get the subjective nature of budgets :). I also feel better because some of the blade on KoA were over $2000.00 and calling that "budget" had my eyes a bit.

    I also keep forgetting about the wrapping. The Filipino blades I have used don't worry about that. The tang is full length and is secured in the handle either via peening or compression HOWEVER there is no wrap to be concerned about, the hard wood is carved to provide the grip. The wrapping adds another factor that, due to my lack of experience, I keep forgetting.

    Thanks for the info! :)
     
  14. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    No problem... but, for a good base line, it doesn't matter how much a sword costs, if it comes from a company that labels it "Battle Ready" the way the Kult of Athena company does... they have no idea what they're doing, and are in no way serious about it... and should be shunned by anyone looking for actual, reputable, reliable, and even somewhat accurate training gear. Regardless of their $2-3000 price tag, I see nothing there I'd even consider letting in a dojo.
     
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  15. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    Well KoA, sorta to their credit, says on their site "this is just what the manufacturer lists with their product line, make sure you do your research." So example for European blade... Albion? Yes, Deepeeka? Rofl...Hell no. It's a PITA though that KoA doesn't do that work for ya. I suppose they carry so many lines they just don't want to be bothered with the testing and rely consumer via "write a review" to be their testers.
     
  16. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yeah... the whole "distributors" instead of sources is another reason to avoid, really... suffice to say, any time they're brought up in regards to anything to be used in serious sword work or use in a dojo, the recommendation is always going to be to go to someone with some understanding of the arts and requirements first. KoA have none.
     
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  17. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Why not find a local blade smith and get one made to order?
     
  18. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Quite a number of reasons... for one, the particular requirements for an Iaito are likely not to be known (or understood) by the "local blade-smith" unless they have had extensive exposure to Japanese blades, and their manufacture process... simply looking kinda like it isn't good enough... look to much of the Cold Steel range for that.

    Secondly, the person asking is still a beginner in Iaido, and would likely not have much of an idea what to ask for from the blade-smith themselves, not having the experience to understand exactly what is meant when we say that "balance" is important... where is that balance point? How does it feel? What is the overall weight? And, before we get too far in thinking those answers can be given here, different schools, and different instructors will have their own preference... Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu under Sekiguchi Komei Sensei will often tend towards longer, heavier blades... whereas Katori Shinto Ryu under Otake Sensei will go to a shorter, more manageable weapon.. and anything inbetween, depending on the circumstances... hence "ask your instructor" being the first answer, with Paul very accurately stating that the instructor should be considered the ultimate authority in this matter.

    Finally, an Iaito is not made of steel... it's often a zinc-aluminuim alloy, designed to not allow the blade to be sharpened, and to not handle impact. It's unlikely that a "local blade-smith" would be used to working with this alloy, or the properties that are present, and their reasons. Steel Iaito do exist (often referred to as Mogito, or "imitation swords"), unsharpened... but these are rare.

    When all's said and done, though, the best advice is to go to the guys who know what they're doing... which means Meirin Sangyo, Tozando, Yamato Budogu and similar... absolutely in conjunction with the advice of the instructor in question.

    So yeah... not a good idea.
     
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  19. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    Unless you have a guy like this locally? https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-goldberg-94b78518 ;)

    The guy is near me and I would hope his traditional forge training as well as being a 4th Dan in a style of Iaido, would help. He teaches Aikido as well. If I didn't now live 40 minutes away I'd consider checking out his Dojo. Ironically it used to be 5 minutes away.

    If you watch "Forged in Fire" he is the guy who won the "Katar" episode in Season 1.
     
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  20. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    The wisest advice given here is to go with what your instructor is recommending. If it is to much then start saving. A low end iaito will cost somewhere around $500 to start right now and go up from there. Chris and Paul have mentioned good lines that offer quality.
     
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