Archive for the ‘Swords’ category

Sword Stories

October 15, 2014

A resource link to where people can look at or buy swords.

Same story in two links above.

Old news, but recently I heard of others using melee type implements so I’ll do a search. If it is as common as SWAT no knock raids with fatalities at wrong address, it should easily come up.

Nope, seems that incident is rare in the results. So we’ll go with non lethal outcomes.

“The first thing that went through my head is somebody should do something, and that’s when I got really upset and disappointed with myself, because I realized I had the opportunity to do something. And I didn’t want to be a hypocrite who just tweeted about it,” Scaramuzza told the station.

Using that search function brings up more. However, it still didn’t get the two stories I heard from instapundit, a person with a “spear” capturing a criminal/arsonist in his home or the person with a sword stopping two ninjas from attacking a house where his girlfriend was.

L6 Bainite sword steel explanations

October 1, 2014

I was reading about the L6 tool steel, vs the T10, 1060 carbon, and 9160 spring steel swords.

Element Weight %
C 0.65-0.75
Mn 0.25-0.80
Si 0.50
Cr 0.60-1.20
Ni 1.25-2.00
Mo 0.50
V 0.20-0.30(a)
Cu 0.25
P 0.03
S 0.03

I was able to get a more specific list of the composition there, which is restricted to only a few browsers before the subscription requirement kicks in.

Molybedum, Manganese, Chrome, Silicon, seem to be the most important in sword steel construction, for hardness, edge retention, flexibility, and shape retention.

I had most of this information years ago, but it’s good to review once in awhile.

Something strange in the works

June 27, 2014

Reading a story about Japanese samurai customs of testing new swords on peasants.
Courtesy of David Foster.

I feel quite a bit of blade instability and harmonics when cutting through dense objects, using differentially hardened blades.

I wouldn’t be surprised that the brittle construction and steel (ancient) Japan had to use for katanas, would break or chip the blade, if an inexperienced samurai used his blade on wood or bamboo. Thus humans were much more “squishy” even with the bones.

Personally, I prefer thorough hardened blades, relying on the overall heat treatment and steel quality (Spring steel 1060 is reasonable) rather than on the back of the katana to “absorb” shock. The hamon from the differential hardening is nice, though, visually speaking.

The thorough hardened 1045 I use for practice feels much more stable when cutting, although technically it has no edge and thus isn’t “strumming the violin string”.

I’m sure technique perfection would eliminate the harmonics from any cut, using any tool. That is a bit trickier to figure out. It helps if one has supremely strong hand grips though. More on the pinky and ring finger than the index. Not so good for shooters or mouse users, since their strongest finger is the index or middle.

I’m also combining Taiji gut or dantien movements and energy concentration, in order to power horizontal sword strikes and they feel much more “smooth” that way. The energy feedback is a lot less when both of my legs are rooted to the ground, so that when the energy from the sword connects to the object, the object pushes back via one of Newton’s Laws. That energy travels back through my arms and has to go somewhere. If I route it through my stomach and to my two legs (the stomach area connects to the hips, thus can channel open a route to the legs) it hits the ground and goes back to where it came from.

I don’t think I’ve ever read about this issue, since it’s not something people generally talk/write about unless they have actually used a sword to cut targets and that sword was a differentially hardened katana. It’s like the whole sheathing movement. If you don’t use swords, it’s easy to neglect mentioning it and how it isn’t as simple as just pushing the sword back in. Japanese katanas have a bare back with no edge to it, so one normally uses the thumb or fingers to “guide it back in” via touch contact alone. Why is this better than the two edged jian or longsword’s sheathing method? Because you don’t have to get your eyes on target, you can watch around in case the threat is not over. It would be pretty stupid if someone stabbed you in the back while your eyes were looking around to see where to sheathe your sword.

So, that is just one advantage or difference between a one edged saber like sword (the katana) and a double edged longsword. Each tool has pluses and minuses depending on what job you want to do.

I will see if I can produce more testing on this subject. I need a thorough hardened 1060 to test with, since the 1045 is thorough hardened but has a different HRC rating and doesn’t have an edge to begin with (although it cuts through the same things except really light objects).

Japanese 9260 spring steel katana auctions

June 1, 2014

I was looking around for some Cheness 9260 spring steel blades and found that they have some competition on this venue.

My 1060 differentially hardened steel, also from China, has gotten quite a lot of dents in it by now. The sweat on the 1045 steel iaito has soaked into the cloth grip and has stained the white rayskin yellow. I guess that’s what happens when training outside in a rainstorm. Wasn’t my fault, the sky was clear in the beginning, but nature still wanted to push me inside with some flash flood like rain. Little monsoon stopped in an hour or so. Good thing there was no lightning. Swinging a rod of steel around in a lightning storm, I can just imagine it now. That’s Ben Franklin level there.

Spring steel, 9260, and T10 steel are harder to work with, but their resiliency is far better. Japanese swords were historically hardened to the 1095 level, or just about. The edge was pretty hard and could thus hold an edge, but it was also brittle and took supreme edge control for a swordsman not to chip the blade on various targets or when blocking too many hits.

Modern steel can reproduce the same edge quality, but make the entire blade stronger and more flexible even. In terms of practicality, flexibility (spring steel can return to normal after 90 degrees of bending, now that’s a nice block against monster ogre clubs) and unbreakable stability is more important for me than edge sharpness. After all, even an unsharp katana can cut, it just takes more work. The primary problem with chips in the blade is that it disturbs the vector of the blade as it moves through an object. I feel more instability in my hands. I need to get that little modern gadget that sharpens blades (using some diamond hard crushers that can fit in a hand). Like a pencil sharpener, it works just like that.

The h-wei shop also sells Chinese jians.

A sort of rapier plus longsword. That little instruction video looks pretty good. The katana is like a tank. The only thing it can’t manipulate or block are chains or hooks. The jian is a lighter weapon that gets better the more agile and dexterous a swordsman is. Its long distance stabs and defenses can defeat opponents with shorter weapons or outmaneuver opponents with longer and heavier weapons. Taiji can add an additional arm to the swordarm, in order to absorb or block heavy hits, if strictly necessary (such as being trapped, for example, and unable to move out of the blade vector line).

One comment I left on another site:

Personally, I find a lot of versatility in the design of the Japanese katana. While they had to work with inferior steel and this lead to compromises, in the modern world having a flat back is very useful for non lethal blows as well as allowing the use of two arms to block heavy hits such as from baseball bats, rifle stocks, etc. A curved blade is easier to draw, and the flat back allows the use of the finger or thumb to guide the blade into its sheathe without much difficulty or accidental cuts.

A double bladed sword should be easier on the wrists when it comes to spiralling movements or slicing movements.

Ironically, even our average blades forged of 1045 steel would be considered almost divine weapons in the past. While it wouldn’t hold an edge easily, it couldn’t be shattered easily either. And generally, it was the later that killed warriors, not the former.

On a different note, every time the person in the video is looking at the scabbard to sheathe the jian, is a moment somebody can surprise him because he’s not looking around or checking his six. Japanese katanas can be sheathed by touch sensitivity alone, convenient for me.

On a different note, I tested the point of balance of my katana by leaning it over my shoulder. It’s pretty much what the video says. And it “pulls” hard even on horizontal cuts. Nice for slashing through objects, but not so nice if you need to recover to guard because somebody’s serpentine jian is trying to cut your wrist tendons off.

In some ways, swords are like AR-15s, they can be customized to suit the specific user’s style or strengths. Actually in a lot of ways it is like that.

People almost killing while using a sword

June 28, 2012

If you like watching people “almost” kill themselves and bystanders, take a look.


Yeah. Now consider this. I have not cut myself or anyone else during practice with my shinken. I have yet to lose a sword and have it go flying. And yet… a bunch of people on this planet call themselves “proficient” without being anywhere close.

Ethical Swordmanship and the Chinese straight sword “Jian”

March 6, 2012

Just a reply to this post by Dan. It is a post mostly about martial arts and sword users/collectors. I write it here because it broke the 4k character count of the comment system. Read the post in question if you are interested in martial arts or wish to read a story about one person’s mental reservations concerning the war like killing uses to which some things in martial arts were developed for.

Stabs with a katana are just as damaging as a slash, it just takes a little longer and is very hard to aim due to the weight of a 42-45 inch katana, given how the katana’s curve isn’t really balanced for thrusting. It’s not a rapier designed type. However, the technique for making stabs cause as much internal damage as a slash, is to stab to acquire penetration, then jerk in a circle or sideways motion, as you pull the sword out. This will potentially reach the internal organs and arteries, causing death by exsanguination and CNS shutdown. Usually the other guy can still cut you down if you let him, which is why it’s a good idea to engage closely, grapple with them, and wait until they have no strength left, then retrieve the weapon, and cut off their head with a finish blow. The preferred method on a battlefield is probably to thrust in and when use the momentum of the thrust, run completely past the enemy, and then use the body’s own weight and momentum to jerk/tear the sword out, causing a fatal wound whereas a simple sword stab is not always necessarily fatal, even if it goes through the entire body. At least not immediately fatal. Probably the most risky part of a thrust is the length of time it takes to retract the weapon and use it against fresh enemies. But the same can be said for a slash which catches on bone and armor joints. The other problem is accuracy. An inaccurate stab on armor plating will slide off, whereas a slash, no matter how badly targeted, if it hits it’ll still cause crippling damage. Throat, knee, thigh stabs require accuracy and stability. The more difficult it is, the less people tended to use it in battle.

Attacking is not as simple as many people believe. There are entire levels within levels here, some of which you described in the post about slashing and cutting planes. Also, your mental reservation concerning knives, stabbings, and cutting cannot be said to have allowed you to generate a real attack with such things. Your body may know the techniques and movement, but if your mind is not prepared and focused, it’s not a real attack. It may also have contributed to avoiding situations where knife attacks have hit the target or your flesh and muscles have already been cut through and off: the priority at least. People usually don’t think about things they don’t want to think about. But that also means their ability to judge and assess potential decisions to be made in such situations will suffer. A person that thinks “I don’t want to get hurt” after he’s been wounded, and tries to “defend” himself, is basically trying to commit suicide. A guy losing blood by the bucketful is not going to defend himself by fighting a defensive game or waiting for some 2nd chain attack so he can counter it. A guy with the nerves and tendons of his primary arm destroyed, is not really going to be able to “defend” himself real well against multiple opponents and fresh fighters to boot. The only chance he has of buying more time to get himself to the hospital with only 1-2 stabs and not 9-90 stabs, is to generate an effective attack backed by his full determination to whittle down the morale and offensive power of his enemies, and that means he cannot be thinking whatsoever about “defense”. Half the reason movements are done in Chinese martial arts is to generate simultaneous offense and defense applications, allowing a person to not even think about defense. Doing defense, and thinking defense, those are not necessarily compatible. Whereas doing attack, and thinking attack, is a requirement. If a person’s goal is not getting hurt, eventually he will find a situation where he will get hurt, and to save his life, he must then discard the concept of defense and rely upon simultaneous offense/defense movements. Attacking is not as simple as people believe. Most humans have a lot of mental reservations, irregardless of their skill levels or how many years they have trained, which do not allow them to generate true attacks. Part of what makes swords dangerous and beautiful is that it will cut through a person, irregardless of whether you want him dead or alive. Just apply sufficient force to close a door, and the sword will cut through him and make him dead. Unless you hit with the flat part of the blade, the guy’s going to get cut and bleed out. But the point is, why is this any different than a person that is able to generate that kind of intent open handed? There is no difference then between having a sword or not having a sword, other than labor efficiency. Fighting takes work, best to keep it as short as possible to save on energy. But for a person that cannot generate that kind of intent with just his hands, the idea of a sword/gun can be disquieting. A lack of control, and a look at one’s limitations in the mental realm.

A sword, like a gun, is a labor saving tool. It allows someone to kill or hurt humans, without having full intent. Just enough to let gravity and the blade/bullet do most of the work. In H2H, killing someone else or crippling them, truly requires dedicated mental concentration. But what people get easily confused about is that most of the attacks in H2H are NOT fatal and not done with full intent. Yet many people believe that just because they have hit each other, hard, and caused damage, that they are striking with full intent or know how to strike with full intent. Attacking is more complex a field than it may seem on the surface, and there are many things in it that people are not aware of. I’ll leave it at that.

Most of the other things Dan wrote about is consistent with my own beliefs and conclusions. Slashing is best done with a curved blade, thus if your sword attacks favor slashing and slashing goes through most people’s armor (not European full plate though), then it pays to have it. Of course some of this was limited by metallurgy as the Japanese had to figure out how to make something curved and long, without it snapping. But swords for cavalry (and the Japanese were big on cavalry for one reason or another), were best curved and best long too, to use the leverage of a horse’s momentum.

Everybody is going to eventually have to confront their own mental reservations about the use of violence, one way or another. They have to challenge themselves ethically and find reasons or just rationalizations why this is this, or that is that.

My two favorite sword manufacturers are probably Cheness and Musashi. The mistakes I made learning to maintain and use a high carbon steel sword, were a lot easier to do when the money to replace a blade wasn’t equal to your monthly bill. If I ever do buy a more expensive blade, I’ll know that all the newbie mistakes I already made, with swords I could easily replace.

Black Belt: Kuro Obi

August 16, 2011

Currently watching this 2007 movie in English subtitles. Looks interesting so far.

A great demonstration of H2H vs sword arts. Of course, pre WWII Japanese sword arts were post-Meiji era sword arts, which is to mean it was disconnected from the history of Japanese warfare and swordmanship. It was resurrected basically for WWII, Toyama Ryu. A way to teach swordmanship to soldiers via a drill mechanism. Enough to keep them alive against opponents who had no sword or were unused to the sword, but not enough to make them truly proficient or masters of the sword.

EDIT1: Well, so far it seems like a tale of internal dispute within one particular school of karate over attack philosophy vs defense philosophy. In Japanese style, each side has their positives and minuses, which the movie takes pains to show to the viewer. It’s not about one person or philosophy being dominant over the other, in fact one might say the “evil” or more aggressive philosophy is shown as dominant and the defensive “peaceful” philosophy is shown as detrimental and causing anguish/grief.

Well this sets things up for an upset of course and it will be interesting to see where they go with this.

EDIT2: I thought the ending was a bit strange in terms of how they designed the fighting. I much preferred the previous fights. And I’m still unsure whether the philosophical conflict ever really got resolved. Of course, a movie cannot be expected to delve too deeply into the differences between attack and defense focuses. But I was looking for something a bit deeper on this matter. In general, this movie had a great start and middle. Even if the ending didn’t quite fit my expectations, it was still a very good production, especially for those interested in Japanese culture and/or history.


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