August 2016  
August Edition 2016

This month we focus our attention primarily on the Wakizashi and the Daisho of the Samurai. Often overlooked in favor of the Katana, the Wakizashi was and still remains an oft underestimated tactical sword - and in this issue we examine its uses, design, why they are not as widely available as many collectors would like - and offer you some limited time specials.

But don't worry, while this month our focus is on the Samurai - we still like to think that there is something here for everyone regardless of your preference in the sharp and pointys.. Such as Jousting being added to the Olympics, Viking sword combat videos, and much, much more..
Coming Soon: Anime Sword Reviews..
I have been criticized, and justifiably so, on some occasions for picking on anime swords with our "Bad Sword of the Month" Digest feature..

So to restore the balance, over the coming months I will be adding some hands on anime sword reviews to the main site - evaluating them primarily on how closely they match the anime they are based on, but as some are purportedly made from 1045 carbon steel, may even decide to put some through their paces..

Definitely a change of pace, but a worthwhile addition for collectors who just want a decorative replica of a sword from their favorite anime series, and also to introduce newer collectors who have no idea about the difference between real and decorative swords, to the larger sword collecting community.
Issue: 106
In This Issue
Video of the Month

Real Viking Combat

Nothing like Hollywood, this short video by two re-enactors shows you how Vikings probably actually fought one another.

Simple but practical, this short video gives you some sword and shield basics.

Samurai Swords: All About the Wakizashi and Daisho..
This month, with our focus on the two swords of the Samurai - the Daisho (which means "big/little") - it is only fitting that we spend a little time exploring the historical context of the Wakizashi no Katana (literally "side inserted sword").

While the Katana was only permitted to be owned and carried by Samurai class - ownership of the Wakizashi was much more liberal. The companion sword was allowed as a personal weapon of all classes, and was accordingly more commonly found than the Katana - being owned by wealthy merchants and anyone who could afford one.

Moreover, because it was traditional to leave a Katana at the "Genkan" (entryway) - the Wakizashi was also the Samurai's most personal weapon, and was especially suited to indoor use and was most certainly a very tactical weapon. In some cases, it was even the means for a disgraced Samurai to end his own life, though generally speaking the tanto was used for Seppuku/ritual suicide.

From a combative perspective, the Wakizashi is actually a very versatile sword - being considerably faster and lighter than a Katana, though just as effective at cutting and capable of being used either one handed, supported with the left hand at the kashira/hilt or dual wielded like Musashi with the Katana in the dominant hand and the Wakizashi in the left (unfortunately for most lefties, Samurai were forced to become right handed).

For self defense purposes in a modern setting, the Wakizashi is actually more likely to be a better choice than a Katana, especially if used indoors as it is much harder for an opponent to close beyond the point rendering it ineffective, will not catch on doorframes, ceilings, sofas, etc and as it shorter - can withstand impacts from baseball bats, etc much better than a full length Katana.

Interestingly, having been involved in the sword industry for many, many years - it is interesting to note that the actual production cost of a Wakizashi is only fractionally lower than a full length Katana.
This means that many companies who make aggressively priced functional Katana cannot afford to absorb any significant discount on a companion Wakizashi - even though most collectors expect that the price difference should be significantly less.

The main reason why it is not all that much cheaper to make is simple - the actual cost of the steel itself is not the main cost of a sword. What costs so much are the forging, polishing and mounting costs - and the amount of money saved when it is really just 10" of steel or so different are almost negligible..

It is definitely Wakizashi month over at Cas Iberia, the official distributor for Paul Chens Hanwei Forge. Almost all their high end Wakizashi - all of which can be combined with a Katana of the same type to create a matching Daisho Set - are being offered to wholesalers at a steep discount.

As always, rather than pocket the difference, we are passing the savings on to the sword buying community with our Hanwei Wakizashi Super Sale.

A Word of Warning: While sales like this are a great opportunity to save money, recent months have seen the general decline of the sword industry accelerate, with record low production and sales. Because Wakizashi are some of the least profitable items for a company, if there is a slowdown and they are sold below cost to recover cash flow tied up in them, it may be a considerable while before they come back into stock..

As such, if you have had your eye on one of these swords or been thinking of getting one of the Hanwei Daisho, this month may be your best bet. 
Jousting in the Olympics Anyone? 
Amoung news on medieval castles for sale, $20,000 swords made in Texas and all the usual new articles of possible interest to sword collectors to grace our  Facebook page - one of my personal favorites was talk of Jousting becoming an official Olympic sport!

British enthusiasts of the ancient sport that has recently seen a resurgance of interest have started a petition, and if successful, could see it all become officially recognized alongside track and field, boxing, equestrian and weightlifting.

Sword Doco of the Month
A very short video this month, but jam packed with information from James Williams on Samurai clothing, how the Daisho were worn, what a Samurai had up his sleeves, what sageo was used for a much, much more.

Short but sweet, I all but guarantee that you will learn something new from this 10 min vid.
Just because it has never been found, doesn't mean it wasn't real or never existed.. 
The Maciejowski tapestry, and the "chopper" depicted in it is truly an interesting and somewhat mysterious piece.

The savage looking blade shown several times in cannot be found in any museum. And because of this, because no surviving example can or ever has been found, it was and to some degree still is, believed to have been the work of the overactive imagination of the illustrator.

But this same design, with the cruel flanged spikey head, has been found in other medieval manuscripts.. And the design is quite a sound one - with the single handed version having a re-curved pommel to prevent it slipping out of the hand in the heat of combat, a cutting edge for chopping off limbs and a spiked head for penetrating armor - the design is brutally efficient as a weapon of war.

If I was a semi-trained, nervous commoner about to go into the field of battle, I know I would pick one..! Even just looking at pictures of the functional replica by Del-Tin (pictured below) or Windlass Steelcrafts is a somewhat intimidating experience, never mind facing one on the field of battle..

So why has there never been one actually found?

When you stop to think about it - most swords in museums were either found in pagan burial grounds, tombs or handed down through the generations. But the Maciejowski Falchion was a commoners weapon during the Christian era. Chances are, the steel was simply salvaged and re-used over the centuries. And chances are, there are many practical sword designs that were never recorded in a manuscript and have been lost in the mists of time..

Back in the day, I used to agree with the general consensus about the Ninja Sword - that the square tsuba, straight bladed short sword was pure Hollywood as no surviving blade had ever been found. And indeed, even in this issue of the digest, James Williams himself echoes this sentiment - suggesting it would be silly for a Ninja to carry a sword that identified him as a clandestine operative. And indeed, if disguised, it would be..

But if said Ninja was on a night mission - a Katana clanging around at his side is going to be a nuisance - while a utilitarian, multifunction tool like sword would be quite a boon. And because, like the Maciejowski Falchion was seen as just another tool - would not be preserved and the steel re-used during peaceful times for more agrarian purposes..

It really does make you wonder, just how many different practical sword designs have been lost to us over the ages or - like the 2600 year old sword left in a barn for 50 years are just waiting to be (re) discovered..
Bad Sword of the Month
This months BSoM should be called 'the Dragon Snagger' - not because it snags dragons, but rather it snags everything around it..

The pommel has twin snagging tails to catch you in the elbow, a chain and lanyard to snag your hand and fingers, slots in the blade to snag a sword (or two), spines to snag your elbow, and a pre snagged blade on the inside - possibly for slicing up carrots.

The balance is exceptional, being entirely in the handle allowing force-less cuts on the hopelessly snagged enemy. Still, it provides a nice challenge - see how many hidden dragon parts you can find snagged in there.

Normally $10,000,000 (stamped out from a meteorite during an eclipse) it also includes a magical bell to drive away evil spirits every-time you try to open the sword bag, which only a holy man can untangle..

Invisible scabbard sold separately.
Best Forum Posts
Can anyone explain pre-Sonny Valiant Armoury Swords to me?
Understanding a signficant shift for the history of the modern medieval sword market when Sonnyh Suttles took over Valiant Armory, and changed the company from clunky cheap beaters to mid end semi-custom medieval swords.

Assassins Creed - Fully Functional Windlass Replica
You may, or like the OP - may not have played the game. But some people are drawn to this particular fantasy saber design. How about you?

Torture testing and sword respect - sometimes a touchy subject
When torture testing is necessary and when it is just a waste. How far should you go and why. Interesting and long 4 page thread.

Angus Trim - The Novel 
Gus may be best known for making swords and his role in shaping the modern day medieval sword market. But he can add fantasy novelist to his (sword) belt with the release last month of the first book in his "Ranger Ask Not" series.
Ronin Katana - Musashi Daisho Set Special

It would seem quite natural that Ronin Katana, a company that specializes in no nonsense cutting Katana for Dojos and serious backyard cutters would eventually embrace the "King" of all Ronin, the legendary sword saint - Miyamoto Musashi..

Yet surprisingly, it was not until late last month that the first Musashi themed Daisho set would become available - and it has launched with a special introductory offer..

While stocks last or until the 8th of August, you can pick up both the Dojo Pro Model 12 Katana and the new matching Wakizashi with a $100 discount AND get two free high quality sword bags (one for each sword) valued at $40.

Both of these swords have classic 1060 carbon steel blades in the Dotanuki style, but are made fast and lightweight with hand carved bo-hi (fuller/blood grooves) to make them easier to dual wield in the classic Niten Ichi Ryu style.

For more information on exactly who Miyamoto Musashi was, why he was so special, and some unique facts about his amazing life - check this post on our store blog.

In the meantime, take advantage of this exclusive offer while you can:

$100 Off and Two Silk Sword Bags Until 8th August 2016

That's all Folks!
Hope you enjoyed this issue of the Digest. Tons of new stuff on the horizon coming up, so stay tuned for the next issue!

In the meantime, happy swordening and talk to you all again soon.
Paul Southren
Sword Buyers Guide Limited