Making a choice about getting my first katana.
QUESTION: I'm Stefan and I live in the netherlands. I have never owned a sword in my life but I have always been a great fan of katana's.
Luckily I came across this wonderful site. This site really helped me gather alot of very useful information about swords. Im glad I didn't buy any cheap wallhanger before I visited this site. But now that i've gone through the whole site I want to buy a katana in the 80-300 price range. I've found some nice ones but I dont really know which katana of them suits a beginner like me best. And therefore I was hoping I could rely on your expertise.
I've made a list with the names of the katana's I'm considering to buy and I hope you can give me an answer about wich one suits me best. I'll probably use it for light duty cutting such as plastic bottles or thin wooden and bamboo poles.
I was thinking of buying one of the following Katana depending on your advice,
The Musashi Bamboo Katana.
The Musashi Bushido Wind Dragon.
The Hanwei Forge Practical Plus katana.
The Cheness Kaze katana.
The Musashi Wind katana.
The Cheness 9260 Tenchi Katana.
The Cheness 9260 SGC Series Katana.
So these are the Katana I had in mind. I was hoping I could find a sturdy katana as I'm a beginner I will probably abuse it unintentionally but at the same time I want it to be and elegant and beautiful sword that I can display so a good looking tsuba and saya would really be good. And to wrap things up im really glad I found this site its a valuable source of information. I hope I did not bore with my rather weird question. I look forward to your answer. And keep up the splendid work paul.
PS: If the sword of your choice is available at the SBG sword store ill will buy it there of course probably using paypal. ANSWER:
That is quite a list my friend! :-) But I'll try to help narrow it down for you.
One of the biggest problems with living outside of the US is shipping costs. For example, the Musashi and Hanwei swords tend to only be shipped by companies that use UPS, and you are looking at a minumum of around US$120 per sword, which really changes the whole dynamic. (And bear in mind that there are quite a few sword sellers who ONLY service the US, which can be quite an obstacle for non US enthusiasts).
With regards to the Cheness swords from the SBG Sword Store, European shipping is only US$35, so it does make them a more favorable purchase (plus, they are in the SBG Sword Store for a reason - based on my own experiences, and those of many, many others - they are the best sub US$300 Katana out there!).
But lets take a moment to look at the list on their own merits...
The Musashi Wind and the Bamboo are essentially the same blade, so we are really only talking about the fittings. These swords are very nicely balanced, quite strong and very sharp - with the only real issues being with the overall appearance of the fittings. The Wind Dragon on the other hand is a good sword, but doesn't come close to the others...
The Practical Plus is a classic - but QC is all over the place with them, and I have heard some horror stories over the years of the blades snapping cutting pretty normal targets (Tatami, water filled bottles) etc. While this is unlikley, it is always in the back of my mind - and with all the new swords that have come out in the past couple of years, I would have to say that it is a little dated.
The Cheness SGC sounds like overkill for your intended purpose. It is Cheness Cutleries most effective cutter hands down, but it is a beast of a sword that is quite far removed from elegant.
So that leaves the Tenchi and the Kaze. The Tenchi is a fantastic sword for a beginner - forgiving of anything, nice looking (especially the bo-hi version) and as tough as nails.
The Kaze on the other hand is the most attractive of the lot - with a traditional hamon, nice looking fittings and excellent cutting potential. This also means that the demand far outstrips supply, and as I am writing this, they are about to go on backorder again... :-(
The only other problem with the Kaze is that, being a traditional sword, it is not as forgiving as the Tenchi. That's not to say that it is weak, far from it (and I have heard stories from my customers who have litrally put their Kaze through hell and back!) - but would be more than enough for your intended cutting targets.
So there you have it - in the end, I think the choice would come down to the Musashi Wind, the Cheness Tenchi or the Cheness Kaze - with the Kaze in the lead (assuming it is still in stock!).
Hope this helps narrow it down for you. Out of these three, you really can't go wrong.