The Sword Buyers Digest - Issue # 126, July 2018
From the Desk of Paul Southren
Greetings Fellow Sword Enthusiast!

Welcome to the July issue of the digest!

We have a fair amount to cover, as July was an especially busy month (and a painful one! Started out with a root canal on the 1st of the month that went wrong and has ended up with an infection in the jawbone, got food poisoning and caught a cold - nice!).

We started the month off with a couple of long overdue movie sword articles - a fairly exhaustive one covering all the various versions of the original Conan the Barbarian Swords and Michonne's Walking Dead Sword (which mused a little on where this sword actually came from and what steel it may have been made from).

I also did a bit of write up about the legality of Katana (as well as the ease of actually owning or importing them) and summed it up with a rather disturbing map showing what countries allow them (green), which countries ban or heavily control their distribution (red), and countries that - especially recently - are in a grey area now (predictably, colored grey).

Katana Legality by Country (2018)
It is still a work in progress and I will update it as we go - but feedback is especially welcome if you live in a country that you feel has not been properly represented or have any stories or updates of your own to share.

Another article that was long overdue was a write up and overview of Forge Direct - how it got started, why, who is behind it, how it all works and where it is headed in the future - and this dovetailed with a page that lists all the various special projects SBG has initiated over the years (8 major ones to date, from Custom Katana to the Legendary Swords Project) which you can find a link to at the bottom of every page on the site just to showcase what we are involved with and highlight some of our more unique offerings.

We then put together a series of articles for ABSOLUTE beginners to the world of Japanese Swords, their history, use, terminology, myths, etc, etc.

But the two articles I am perhaps the most proud of were a comprehensive and (I hope) easy introduction to Oakeshott Typology and an expansion of our pages on sword fighting and training.

The page on Oakeshott Typology was especially enjoyable to write as I decided to go the whole hog and include pictures of the blade, pommel and hilt types to make identification easier.
Again, feedback is welcome here on the forums or simply by replying to the digest in an email - Oakeshott typology can be pretty subjective with some swords and quite a few overlap, so we have done our best to highlight the real defining characteristics of each type.

And the sword fighting page has been expanded and split up - this one is still very much a work in progress, but I finally got around to expanding it as promised on the page itself - and now there are sub-pages on Japanese Sword Arts and Historical European Martial Arts with the main page covering basic principles of swordsmanship, which I enjoyed writing immensely and is, I hope, a helpful guide to the absolute basics.

5 Basic Parries

This page will be further expanded and developed over the coming months so thoughts and contributions are very welcome - once again - a thread has been created for feedback here on the SBG Sword Forum.

Of course, with all my focus on SBG and suffering through a rolling tsunami of minor, but painful, illnesses - I wasn't able to get too much done on the Legendary Swords Fantasy Sword Project I have been working on behind the scenes for nearly a year now.

Below is a quick picture I made of the two main protagonist swords that were finally finished that represent the eternal battle of good versus evil - made using the actual completed swords..
If I can get a break heathwise, I will hopefully be able to make some extra progress on both SBG and the new site and project by redoubling my efforts.

It is a lot of good old fashioned hard work, especially as the day to day demands of SBG are pretty intensive anyway - but it's a lot of fun and I am looking forward to bringing these plans to fruition.
Book Review - Guy Windsor's Swordfighting for Writers, Game Designers and Martial Artists
Ever since reading his signature instructional book on Italian Longsword, the Swordsman's Companion, I have been a fan of Guy Windsor.

So when I was going through some of my old books looking for some basic sword fighting tips suited for absolute beginners while writing the new page on Sword Fighting, and not finding what I was looking for, I stumbled upon this new book on

The title alone and the caliber of the writer had me sold, so without even reading all the reviews I ordered the kindle version for my iPad (yes, yes - I know and agree, kindle is no substitute for a real book. But traveling around as much as I do, and needing it NOW - Kindle just makes sense to me. Anyway, I blame Tinker for getting me started on Kindle when he released his book that way, and I had to get a copy..)

Straight from the opening first few paragraphs, I began to suspect that something was amiss. The book had gone through several working titles including 'Principles of Swordsmanship' and 'Sword Fighting for Geeks and Gamers' and the more I read of it, the more I began to feel that it wasn't quite hitting the target because it was - as I continued to read - for the most part a collection of articles taken from Guy Windsors blog..!

I am not sure how I feel about books that are basically a compilation of previous works, copied ad verbatim.. I do understand that re-writing something that has already been written is tedious, and with an author as prolific as Guy is, a pain in the butt to do. But because of this, each chapter 'jumped' from one thing to another and this was somewhat off putting, disrupting the flow..

Now don't get me wrong, the topics were interesting and there is a lot of detail there - information on historical sources, how HEMA research is conducted, and a ton of personal anecdotes. But I could not help buy feel that some of these blog posts felt like padding - and started to skim a bit when confronted with a ton of Italian sword fighting terminology - and can only imagine that at that stage of the book, many would be writers or game developers would be skimming even faster looking for the 'meat'..

However, I slowed back down in chapter two 'lessons from the art' which had some very personal stories from Guy in there, such as how his training helped him when facing the possible death of his wife and soon to be born new baby daughter from eclampsia, anxiety at boarding school and quite a few of his inner fears and demons were laid bare in a very disarming way..

From here, the book felt a little bit like a roller coaster, with chapters jumping from one topic to another due to the 'blog' format, covering one topic after another - martial arts training principles. why and how to train with sharps as well as blunts, disdain for aluminum wasters, etc. And finally, what the game designers or writers might be looking for - a chapter detailing some of the mechanics he used for a card game he was involved with - and then some tips on healthy lifestyle, the importance of squatting in daily life (?!) - and then a little bit more for writers, but it was all glossed over and less than a page long!

This left me with mixed feelings about the book, especially if it was really aimed at game developers and writers to create more realistic sword fights - something we all would appreciate as enthusiasts.

I was kind of expecting some analysis of sword games and movies - what is wrong with them and how it should have been done better. Maybe some illustrations of sword fighting moves that were historically used, or some easy to follow drills. But this was completely absent - and if I was a game designer or writer I would have become frustrated at the 'fluff', enjoyable to read as it may be, BUT - and this is make or break time - I WOULD come away with a better understanding of Sword Training and Fighting in General, and would - if I had the budget - decide to call Guy and see if he was available as a consultant..

Perhaps that is what the aim of the book was - to position himself to come to the attention of writers or game developers who are attempting to make a realistic as possible game, book or movie. And honestly, that's not a bad thing - we NEED more realism in how sword fighting is portrayed. But a more casual developer who bought the book hoping it would give them easy answers is going to be disappointed.

Overall, I don't really think the book hit its mark - partly because it feels to me that the mark was not clearly defined from the outset. It would have a been a lot better if it had more original content, and the blog posts were edited and worked into a flowing text rather than just thrown in, warts and all.

But at the end of the day, it was still a worthwhile read - and has quite a few gems in there for sword enthusiasts in general and I would recommend you read it. But not - if you are a game developer or a writer..
Video of the Month
So the jokes may be lame, and I am not very familiar with this channel 'the Modern Rogue' (though may have to check out their 'how to order whisky like a gentleman' video) but if you are a beginner to the world of Longsword Fighting then this video makes a reasonable introduction - as you can't get much greener than the hosts!
Perfect for anyone not familiar with Longsword fighting who wants an easy 'free' lesson..
Best Forum Posts
A collection of four of the best and most recent posts and threads from the SBG Sword Forum.

Being a global moderator is a thankless task. But Bill served the SBG community for many years before stepping down last month - and while he has retired, he is not gone.

Some tips on how to remember Japanese Sword Terminology and actually pronounce those tricky words the right way so you don't sound like a total noob..

It is official, a new business has been launched called 'Rhema Creations LLC' specializing in gorgeous custom made Gladius. May it go from strength to strength.

Forum member Freq's third attempt at the He-Man sword of Power is the best yet. Good to see yet another member improving their sword making skills..
And the UK gets even sillier - Ban of Edged Weapons in the Mail Pending
While internationally swords and edged 'weapons' are often highly regulated or restricted, the U.K. - which already has some of the toughest sword laws in the world, has just turned the silliness level up to 11..
The long and short of it is that a new bill is proposed to ban the postage of ALL bladed objects to residential addresses!

Needless to say, this is going to make getting swords in the UK even harder than it already is - so please consider signing the petition below at and make your voice heard..
Limited Availablity - Atrim Medieval Bastard Sword
There are few sword makers as well respected these days as the Legendary Angus Trim. His swords are highly sought after on the secondary sword market and increasingly rare.

So when lovers of medieval swords get a chance to grab a genuine Atrim, hand made by Gus in the USA, it is very much a case of first in first served..

Well, this is one such opportunity.

Presenting, a limited edition release of Gus's take on the Oakeshott Type XVIa - configured as a true bastard sword that can be wielded easily in one hand, but truly comes alive when the second hand is brought into play,.
Priced to sell at $1200 with FREE SHIPPING only a handful have been made, and once they are sold out, well - who knows when they will be coming back..
Hope you enjoyed the July edition of the digest. Until next month, stay safe and Happy Swordening all!

Paul Southren