I'm Paul Southren, originally from Adelaide in South Australia - your host
and chief editor of SBG (that's me kicking back with a beer after a hard days slaving away breaking swords and writing reviews!).
I started this site in February 2005, not just as a sword review site, but also as a resource to help shorten the usually fairly steep learning curve encountered when someone starts to get interested in anything beyond a display sword...
The reviews are carefully chosen so that as you read each one you are (hopefully) learning a lot about what to look for in good functional replica swords in general, and develop the skill to avoid the cheap and nasty 'sword like objects' that fall apart in your hands when just swung through the air..
"In short, I like to try to keep the site simple and FUN..." :-)
I'll be the first to admit that I am far from being an expert on swords.
Much of what I have learned over the years is just from hands on experience with buying and selling modern replica functional swords and reading a few books on the subject.
True enough, I've been to some of the forges in China to see how most of the replicas are made first hand. And yes, I have lived in Japan for over 4 years where I have seen some amazing blades and overall, hmm. Well, I guess I am privy to a fair amount of inside information about the sword industry in general - with several wholesale accounts with major sword suppliers and forges..
Hey maybe I do know a little about swords, at least the modern sword market..! ;-)
But as you can probably tell from my reviews, I'm a mediocre academic - there are people at places like Sword Forum International and My Armoury who have probably forgotten more things than I will ever know...!
..The only problem is that some of the experts at these forums have a bit of a reputation as being 'sword snobs'.
In other words, if you ask some of them a question about a sub US$300 sword, the typical response is a flippant 'save up your money for something more expensive'.
But I hope my site demonstrates there are quite a few very sturdy and eminently functional swords in our price range - the real 'jewels in the junk' - and finding these jewels is exactly what SBG is all about...!
We try to standardize our reviews as much as possible, generally starting off with some background info on the sword in question, a component by component overview and then, if appropriate, test cutting results - with lots of original pics and more often than not, a video or two..
As I mentioned, I am a poor academic, so in depth historical analysis takes a bit of a back seat (sorry)..
At the end of each review, we then wrap it up with a quick 'pros and cons' overview and give the sword a 'star rating' out of 5.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Our 1-5 star
rating system should only be used as a rough guide, as it is fairly
abstract and works on a sliding scale.
In other words, take the rating system with a big pinch of salt - it (tries to) take into account factors such as the swords overall quality and value for money combined (i.e. if a sword is only of average quality, but very cheap - it might have a 3 or 4 star rating. If it's an amazing sword, but very expensive, it might lose a rating point... The general idea is that the rating system represents overall quality AND bang for your buck, so just use it as a rough guide - don't take it as gospel!).
To give you some idea of what the different ratings mean...
Each review ends with our recommendation on where to buy the sword being reviewed based on price and the reputation of the seller. You are of course free to browse the internet for a different seller, but we highly recommend that if you do and don't have much experience you stick to our list of tried and trusted sellers listed here in the sword buyers directory as there are quite a few unreliable (and even some downright deceptive) sellers out there, so 'caveat emptor' (buyer beware) applies if you go it alone (after all, this IS the interwebz!!).
You can probably tell that this site is my passion and a labor of love.
But running a site like this costs a lot of money, both to keep it online and also pay for the swords that we trash in the name of testing..
Initially, all these expenses came out of my own (rather shallow) pockets. But over time, as my site grew and its reputation began to grow, I was able to make my site self funding without having to compromise my sites integrity...
As a big believer in transparency, I have no problems letting you know that SBG is funded via the following methods:
I've found that by maintaining my sites integrity as a completely honest, unbiased resource - and ALWAYS putting the needs of my visitors first SBG has grown in leaps and bounds and is now completely self funded.
A site like this is a lot of hard work true, but as you can tell, I have a lot of fun doing it.. ;-)
Anyway, thank you for having an interest in SBG and how Sword Buyers Guide came about. If you have any questions at all, feel free to drop us a line - we would love to hear from you!
Enjoy the Journey!!!
I'd like to give a brief shout out to some of the people who have helped and/or continue to make SBG a website I am happy to put my name to. While this is no Grammy acceptance speak (hehe) these people deserve no less than my most sincere thanks:
Also, thanks and a BIG shout out to the countless people who have offered me words of encouragement and thanked me for making this info available - and of course a big shout out to all the SBG Sword Forumites and customers of the SBG Sword Store - you guys make it all worthwhile!