July 2016  
July Edition 2016

This issue ended up with a bit of a East Asian sword focus, what with our "lost" Thaisuki sword review, news about Project X, new swords revealed designed by Frenchie Jin from Dragon King and a very cool documentary about Miyamoto Musashi and the Samurai in general.

However, we have tried to balance it out a little with the video of the month about 25 reasons why you might not really want to live in medieval times, an article about the medieval diet (not to lose weight, but to balance the "four humours" - it is not as silly as it might seem) and a very special deal for lovers of quality medieval Viking swords - though as always, there is more (such as the bad sword of the month and best forum posts).

So, hope you enjoy this issue and you find something of interest!
The "Lost" Thaisuki Review..
This is a review that has been several years in the making..

Originally tested in 2011, the review was delayed due to my move to Japan early that year, and for many years I thought the original pictures and video I had made for it had been lost..

Then recently, while looking for something totally unrelated, I stumbled upon the footage and the pics, as well as my initial impressions of this sword - and finally the lost review was released..

It is a review that I think is long overdue, as Thaisuki have been unfairly saddled with a bad image that basically boils down to the fact that they upset a lot of purists by using the name "Nihonto" in the title of their company, when - to most enthusiasts - "Nihonto" is reserved for swords made in Japan..

But if you can get past this, which is not that hard as to be honest Nihonto really just translates as "Japanese sword" and they never actually claim they are made in Japan (the name Thaisuki makes it pretty obvious that they are made in Thailand) - these swords are actually really nicely made, cut extremely well and are a valid choice for anyone looking at a high end production piece..

Issue: 105
In This Issue
Video of the Month

25 Reasons You'll Be Glad You Don't Live in Medieval Times..

I am not sure all of these reasons are bad, or even accurate, but it is interesting food for thought for those of us (myself included) who sometimes feel we were born in the wrong era...
New Swords from Frenchie Jin and Dragon King..
Tsuba from the Shi Katana
Artisan Frenchie Jin has done it again with not one but FOUR new Katana added to the Dragon King line, and has taken it all to a whole new level..

While the original blades of his first designs were 5160 monotempered beaters, this time around he has gone with my personal favorite steel for a differentially hardened Katana - T10 high speed tool steel - and complimented them with some extremely unique and thoughtful fittings..

The first, pictured right, is without a doubt the darkest of his designs, with a skull themed tsuba, menuki and all black fittings of the "Shi" (death) Katana. Without a doubt these are not "off the shelf" fittings, and adds significantly to the price - but I am certain while it will not appeal to everyone, it will appeal strongly to someone.

The same applies to his other designs in this series, while the "Shi" is without a doubt the most unique (though not ahistorical - skulls and the like where actually seen on historical koshirae), Frenchies designs are all exclusive to Dragon King and truly are something special - though for just shy of the $1,000 price point, they had best be..

It is interesting to note that most of the expense seems to be in the actual cost of the fittings - and this does not surprise me. The actual cost of making moulds for new tsuba, especially steel fittings, is astronomical - and the only alternative, doing it all by hand, equally expensive as it require some real skills and many, many hours of painstaking work.

This is especially apparent in the price difference between the first 3 swords like the "Shi" and a sword with off the shelf fittings, but the same blade which sells for just over $500 (pictured below, the "Hana")..
The stripped down more affordable version - the Hana

A huge price difference as only the fittings are different, but either way for the rarity of the koshirae (you won't find them on any other sword) and the quality of the blades, it is very fair of them to offer a stripped down version..

Either way, the blades are truly quite stunning - extremely well honed and polished with a real hamon that is very clearly defined.

All in all, I really like the direction Frenchie is going with these swords and while I know all to well how hard it is to bring something truly unique to market, would love to see this trend continue.

These swords are all available at the SBG Sword Store at the lowest possible price with FREE SHIPPING in the USA.

The Medieval Diet
Our official Facebook page tends to report on all kinds of weird and wonderful articles we find on the interwebz about swords, medieval oddities, events, and all kinds of stuff that is likely to be of interest to sword enthusiasts.

This month, our most interesting link was to an article from "Atlas Obscura" entitled "I tried a Medieval Diet, and I didn't even get that drunk.."

The artricle is quite detailed and well written, and describes the kind of diet medieval folk presumed would balance the "four humours" - and includes copious amounts of wine added to water. But, while certainly not designed for weight loss and flies in the face of what most nutritionists believe is ideal nutrition, appears to be based on several hunderd years of trial and error - and there is enough information there that if you wanted to, you could give it a try yourself and see..

Sword Doco of the Month
Ever since high school, I have been a massive fan of the legendary Ronin - Miyamoto Musashi - arguable the greatest swordsman of all time. In this excellent documentary, martial artist and movie star Mark Dacascos visits Japan to explore the history of this legendary warrior, the Samurai generally, and of course, the making of the Katana.

An excellent exploration of the legacy and the story of this legend - with cool animated scenes and top quality production values, this video is a must see for any fan of Japanese swords and Samurai history.
Project X Swords - Just Landed.. 
Only a few days ago, Project X models 4-6 and the Dragon Dao arrived at the Ronin Katana warehouse in Texas and while the Dragon Dao pre-orders have already shipped, the Katana are being inspected and prepared to go out to customers while we speak.

Once all the pre-orders are out, we will then be able to offer a handful of each model available to ship ex stock. So far, the quality is as expected for Master Smith forged swords - if we DO find any flaws, the sword is sold as a scratch and dent - and as they are being inspected by Ronin who, as you may know, will scratch and dent a sword for even the slightest blemish, you can expect truly awesome value for money (indeed, the shipping costs alone from the forge and then again domestically with the heavy wooden boxes comes close to $200 but is 100% free for our customers no matter where they live in the world! The value you guys get with these is off the chart - we really should reprice them at close to double what we sell them for, but we are happy to break even on this project and give you a chance to own a sword you would not otherwise be able to get for anywhere near this much)..

We will be posting on the SBG Sword Store Blog when the Katana become available, but right now we are pleased to say we have the last two Dragon Dao available for purchase - they are certain to go quickly and will not be made available again this year, so if you want one - NOW is the only chance!).

Last of the Dragon Dao NOW Available

To ensure you don't miss your opportunity to get one of the extremely limited Project X swords that takes your fancy, be certain to subscribe to the Project X mailing list on our Project X page HERE.

Bad Sword of the Month
Last month we got quite a few emails from people who weren't exactly delighted with my choice of last months "Bad Sword of the Month" picking as I did on a decorative anime sword (again).. So this month, let's change course slightly and pick on bad replica from a very good classic sword movie..

It has all the hallmarks of a bad sword of the month - it is an unlicensed, barely disguised rip off of a movie sword (check). The pommel looks like it was taken from a bed knob (check). It is stainless steel (check). And it has a back-wearable scabbard ready to break off the first time it is attempted to be worn (check).

Yes, Conan took it back for a refund when it broke on a wolves nose and he had to use the pommel to finish them all rightly..
Best Forum Posts
Talk about a close shave..
Discussion and links to some videos of sword accidents - the first one with a blade that breaks during full contact sparring and does the spinning helicopter of death - and the second, a JSA practitioner with 22 years experience drives a Hanwei Raptor blade through his arm while doing iaido.. (WARNING: Videos may contain graphic and/or adult content).

What an $9000 Katana looks like - but is it worth it?
The prices on high end Katana can be pretty astronomical. But this one for $9K - I don't know if it really compares to swords a fraction of the price.. Have a look and see what you think..

DIY Cord Wrapping over the Grip Experiments
A lot of people like the cord over leather look. So how do you do it yourself? Forumites chime in with some ideas.

Shimming a loose saya
Saya are made of wood - and quite often atmospheric differences between where one is made and where it finally ends up causes the wood to expand. Over time, repeated drawing and sheathing can also cause a saya to become loose. So here are some techniques used by forumites to get that perfect fit again.
Hanwei Cawood Viking Sword - 3 Days Left on Special

Yes, that is not a typo - the stunning, historically accurate Cawood Viking Sword from the Hanwei Forge is half price at just $220 plus shipping for any US based address.

The sword itself is surprisingly deft and lightweight, yet supremely strong, forged as it is from 5160 Spring Steel and comes complete with an attractive leather scabbard and matching handle wrap.

What more need I say, get this one before the deal finishes on July the 3rd - don't miss out, this offer with NOT be repeated..

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