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Sword Buyers Digest - March 2010
March 01, 2010

Paul Southren As you’ll soon find out in this edition of the digest, Feb has been a VERY busy month at SBG, and as a result (like the month itself) this issue will be a little shorter than usual. But don’t skip it – I think you’ll find that while the quantity may not be quite as much as the last couple of months, the quality makes up for it..! ^_^


2. SBG Sword Store News
3. 21st CENTURY SWORDSMAN: By Steaphen Fick
5. BLAST FROM THE PAST: Chivalry Steel
6. VIDEO of the MONTH: Olympic Fencing vs Haidong Gumdo!


Ok, now we certainly have some interesting news to tell from February: especially some behind the scenes info!

As you may recall from last issue – January was something of a struggle to keep up with SBG’s increasingly intensive demands and it was a constant daily battle to stay on top of everything (especially emails - often spending up to 6 hours a day.. 6 or 7 days a week just keeping on top of them!).

Of course, inspired by the spirit of the sword – I formed a plan of attack and somehow managed to hack my way through it all like through a small army of water filled bottles, and emerge on the other side with a highly efficient email system that now cuts the amount of time it takes me to answer emails by at least 50% (and if I am super busy, like I will be this month conducting a series of side by side sword tests - I can cut the amount of time it takes me to handle emails down to 25% and STILL reply and be helpful to everyone who emails me while I concentrate on something else)..!

Anyway, I am pleased to say that with this new system for the first time in as long as I can remember I have finally freed up enough time to turn my attention back onto expanding the site(s) and wrap up a series of projects, tests and reviews that I have been trying to get around to doing over the last 6-8 months..! (plus I can also answer my forum PMs, I’ll be the first to admit that I suck at responding to PMs in a timely manner, I’m an email kind of guy I guess!).

A small part of this system includes the new find a sword feature I added to the site last month.

It’s a bit rough and ready at this stage (and for the most part pretty much only suggests tried and tested swords that have been around for a while rather than too many suggestions to try something untested that looks promising but has only just hit the market) – but I think it might be helpful for a few people based on the kind of emails I have received over the years (even though these days the problem is that there are TOO many low priced, ‘at least half decent’ swords out there! Lol).

Otherwise, the other obvious changes to the site (apart from some tweaks to how we link to the reviews on each main category page) were the addition of a few new reviews to the site, including one of my favorites by Robert Betts chopping up a pine sheild with a $167 Hanwei Claymore, and I also got around to adding my review of the $80 Musashi Bamboo Katana - a pretty decent differentially hardened, machine made Katana that performs most backyard cutting tasks without any problems (though, as you will see in the review, the steel is a little on the soft side for harder targets like bamboo, but it’s still excellent value when you consider the price).

I do plan to add a few more reviews to the site this month, but my main focus will be on conducting some destructive testing, culminating with some tests of medieval swords on a suit of armour - whether I can get it all up on the sites in time (as some of it will go on SMG and the rest on SBG) remains to be seen, but I’ll start early in the month and give it a darned good go!).

To stay up to date with major changes to the site as it happens be sure to check our news section, or better yet subscribe to our RSS feed here.


Medieval sword enthusiasts have taken to the stunning Malatesta sword, perhaps the most eagerly anticipated sword in the Christian Fletcher/Gus Trim/Valiant Armoury collaboration to date..!

Malatesta Pre Order

The great news is that these swords have finally cleared customs after a bit of a delay and will be shipped out in early March, but with demand being so high for these swords, I doubt that we will be able to list them in stock – and it may be several months to a YEAR before they are available again, so if you want one – you had better move fast!

In other sword store news, orders for the SBG entry level Katana are shipping out as we speak, which of course means that it is nearly time to start taking new commissions on these extremely popular blades..!

In addition to the upgraded Kissaki (pictured below), which will now be a standard addition to this line – we are also working on adding several NEW options to these blades, so if you are interested and haven’t already signed up to the waiting now is the time to put your name down or you will be waiting another 3 month while the forge finishes up new orders...

Improved Kissaki on SBG entry level Katana
The new improved kissaki on the $330 SBG entry level custom Katana

But perhaps the most exciting news is that in conjuction with Robot 444 (a webstore developer, and coincidentally a fellow sword lover!) the store is about to receive the overhaul treatment to make it match the look and feel of the rest of the site, as well as adding some serious functionality so I can better manage updates.

You can see a sneak preview as well as a whole heap of other developments in the most recent post in the Sword Store News Section, so feel free to have a quick look see.

21st Century Swordsman
“The Long and the Short of the Sword Edges – By Steaphen Fick”

Steaphen Fick from DEMAS

We have heard the term ‘long sword’, but what is the difference between the ‘long sword’, the ‘great sword’, the ‘hand-and-a-half sword’ and the ‘bastard sword’? What about the ‘war sword’ or ‘sword of war’?

In Italian and German traditions, we will come across the terms long sword, great sword, sword of war, and the like. The size of the sword was specific to the individual. The general length of both a great sword and a war sword was such that if you put the point on the ground the quillons should come up to your naval.

The great sword in the Italian tradition is a hand and a half sword, and this term is interchangeable with the term long sword. This type of sword is long, and wide at the shoulder (the quillons), but narrows to the point.

In the German tradition, the great sword and long sword are different swords. The long sword is the same as the great sword in the Italian tradition, but the great sword in the German tradition is closer to the ‘sword of war’ or ‘great war sword’ which does not appear in the Italian tradition. The war sword, also known as the sword of war, is a wide bladed sword that does not narrow as drastically from the shoulder to the point. It is a heavy sword that maintains its width all the way to the point.

There are many different kinds of hilts that can go with these types of blades, and it is mostly up to the personal preference of the owner of the sword. According to Ewart Oakeshott (the leading researcher into the study and classification of the sword) the types of hilts can be broken down into four main categories;

1) the quillons can be straight;

Lutel Longsword Examples

2) quillons with a single side ring on the inside, the outside or both sides of the guard;

Lutel Longsword Examples

3) hilts with curved quillons; or

Lutel Longsword Examples

4) guards that have one or two quillon arms with a ring-guard and a loop back-guard from the extremity of the arm to the inside of the rear quillon.

Lutel Longsword Examples

With this fourth kind of guard, the guard looks more like the compound hilt that you would see on a rapier. These compound hilts on the bastard sword are more common in the German/Swiss swords. The Italian swords do not have these kind of compound hilts.

While the Italian style hilts are simple quillons, either straight or slightly curved, and the German hilts can be either simple or complex hilts, the style you choose can aid you in the fighting system you use. An important part of the sword to remember, though, is this: sword design is not only purely functional, it is also an extension of the owner’s style and taste. There is nothing superfluous in the design of a sword. The sword is not only an object of war; it is an extension of your fashion style.

Pictures courtesy of

Steaphen Fick
Davenriche European Martial Arts School


Do Sword Conventions Exist?
If so, where are they located? And if not, what’s the closest approximation of one (quite a few links to very interesting events).

Fantasy and History, where is the line?
Obviously a sword that copies a historically accurate sword down to every last detail (such as weight, handling, etc) is historically accurate. But where is the line between a historically plausible sword and fantasy? Some very intelligent and thought provoking replies.

Zombie Tools!
You’ve probably seen their site before, but there are also some great recommendations on alternatives and what works best when the inevitable zombie hoard shows up on your doorstep.

So whose interested in a FREE online Italian (Fiore) Longsword Course?
One of our VIP reviewers and sword instructor Odingaard is offering to compile a free online guide to the Italian longsword techniques of Fiore Dei Liberi – the first lesson is up! Show your interest and encouragement for more!

“Chivalry Steel”

Sadly, the only way to see the website that was once Chivalry Steel now is by using the way back machine (a website that archives old websites at a given point in time) – but back when SBG was first starting up, I must credit this website with providing me some inspiration.

You can see one of the last incarnations of this website here: (from 2006, shortly before the website expired in 2007).

Part swords guide and part store, I think that this site was actually a pretty good model for a self funding source of information and must admit I felt a bit sad when I found out that it had turned into virtual dust (I think that the problem probably was that the pages drill down to ‘deeply’ – SBG tries to ensure that any page is only 2-3 clicks away from any other page so that the search engine spiders can find it and index it).

Anyway, I think what I liked most about this site was the ‘find a sword system’ they had on there, which I have tributed in my own way last month here:

Find a Sword System

While my own system is quite different, Chivalry Steel was definitely the inspiration so credit where credit is due, and even though you have to explore the site via way back machine now, it is still worth a look as there is a lot of good information there that is as relevant today as it was 4 years ago.


We all know of the oldest and controversial debate of ANY sword forum ‘who would win a fight between a Samurai and a Knight’ – and over the years the Video of the Month section has occasionally been guilty of trying to find the occasional video that determines to answer this question once and for all..

Of course, so such answer has been forthcoming – so let us instead try to find out who would win between the Olympic fencer and the Gumdo practitioner...

Youtube vid of the Month

You Tube Video of the Month

Always a lot of fun to watch –(and there’s also a part 2 and part 3 that come up under related videos if you want more).

Sorry that this months edition was a little on the light side, but with so many projects planned for this month, I need to get straight into them – so stay tuned for next months issue where I hope to reveal some of them to you (or if time has gotten away from me, at least let you know where we are up to!).

Until then, stay safe and have fun with swords!

Paul Southren
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