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Sword Buyers Digest - August 2011
August 01, 2011

Paul Southren Another ‘how the heck will I get this issue finished on time’ moment – but apparently I did, so despite it being a little light hope you enjoy this issue - been a busy month and the time has come to unwind as bit soon..!


1. From the Desk of Paul Southren
2. A visit to IGA Part II
3. Best Forum Posts
4. Video of the Month: Korean Sword Arts Documentary
5. Bargain Hunters and Clearout Specials
6. Sword of the Month


July was definitely another super busy month..

My primary focus last month was on the SBG custom Katana, first ensuring all the orders from Batch 16 of the custom Katana arrived safely - and then opening up for orders on the next batch (phew!)

As usual, the orders filled up a little over a week after we officially opened for new commissions. And as usual, it was an intensive endeavour handling all the emails, correspondence and ensuring everything was handled as professionally as possible before compiling the final list, double checking it all and cross referencing to make sure that there are no mistakes.

It’s a lot of hard work, but I love seeing the designs and corresponding with everyone as they make their unique, one of a kind sword is extremely satisfying!

Speaking of cool designs, medieval and fantasy sword fans should be pretty excited as Darksword Armory raised the bar yet again with several new models that really do redefine what is possible in a hand made sword at the $300 price point.

I haven’t had the time to list all the ones I intend to sell at the store – but below are a couple of my new favourites including a fantastic looking Celtic Anthropomorphic sword with a solid brass hilt:

Celtic Sword

And a lightweight but extremely durable Danish Two Hander:

Danish Two Handed Sword

There are some reviews pending for these that I haven’t had time to add to the site quite just yet – but the feedback I have is good enough for me to proudly add them to the store (after all, two of them were designed by SBG members!).

Click here to check them all out for yourself

With all of these going on and my usual daily struggle to keep on top of the barrage of emails that greet me every morning from around the world there are still several projects that have been pushed back for the time being, but I am hoping that towards the end of next month I will be able to finally implement a new and revolutionary review submission system for the site to ensure it stays fresh and relevant as well as revamping the SBG facebook page – so stay tuned – it’s going to be good!

In the meantime though, the last few months of stress and overwork have taken their toll on me and I’m definitely in need of a little rest and time to recharge my batteries rather than plunge headlong into the next project. So in the next few days I am taking the opportunity to head back to Australia to catch up with friends and family, tie up a few loose ends and unwind just a little bit before heading back to Japan to rejoin the fray (after all, it is summer holidays in Japan and I have a couple of weeks off from my day job here).

So for two weeks from around the 2nd to the 16th I won’t really have any decent internet access (I’ll be staying with my folks in Adelaide, and they only have – gulp – dial up!) and when I get back to Japan I am moving into a new apartment so I can set my computer up properly (this whole time I have been using a laptop that LOVES to freeze up at the worst possible moments – bless its little heart) so naturally I won’t be processing any orders or answering any emails until I get back.

However you can still place orders during this time, indeed I’ve created a special COUPON CODE for the store for any and all orders placed from NOW until I get back of August 2011 - simply enter this code when you place your order and get 5% off in exchange for waiting until I get back to have your order processed and shipped (not for everyone maybe, but a great opportunity for the budget conscious!).

I’ll still hop down to an internet café or something every now and again just to make sure there isn’t anything massively urgent that needs dire attention, but otherwise I am pretty much offline during this time so will be posting a notice in the store that any emails and orders will not be processed until I am settled in again.

I do have a lot of exciting new projects in store for the coming months and will spend some of my downtime properly planning it all out. I’ve seen some things in Japan that have been very inspiring – indeed there is one project in particular that I cannot say too much about other than it will be an absolute treat for lovers of Japanese blades, if I can pull it off..(and it’s a big if, but it’s worth a go!)

Anyway, in the meantime I’ll stop teasing you with obscure hints at what is to come and follow up from last month’s issue because I’ve been doing a little additional research after my trip to Iga to check out the Ninja museum…


In part I I came away from a visit to the Iga Ninja Museum wondering about why they seemed to have on display a typical reproduction of a Hollywood “Ninjato” and vowed to do some additional research on this often hotly debated topic..


And while I have not yet been able to reach a definitive conclusion, I do at least have as few more clues courtesy of a book I picked up called ‘the True Path of the Ninja’ (you CAN get this one at Amazon I believe, but there are a lot of very unique Japanese books that I haven’t seen outside of Japan – a trip to any large bookstore in Japan can quite often reveal some real treasures in their English language section – and even more await me when I am able to read kanji properly!).

Anyway, while this book is itself a fascinating read – it does give several clues on what a true Shinobi sword might have looked like. In the book it is recommended that an O-Wakizashi is best. But what is an O-Wakizashi? From my understanding, it means a ‘long Wakizashi’ – either one handed or two handed (much like a Ko Katana) seemingly as a matter of preference. But the book goes on to specify that “Shinobi swords have leather hand guards instead of iron. This is so that they will not rattle when moving around, they also have shorter blades and a longer cord.”

So what we have here then is a sword with a leather guard to dampen any possible rattling, a shorter than average blade and a longer than average cord (which can be used as a trip cord). But what did this look like?

Another part of the book gives us a clue as it states any equipment a Shinobi carries must not look out of place or arouse suspicion, which only makes sense – after all, not much use carrying a distinctive sword which screams ‘spy!’ – so whatever modifications are made to the sword would not be obvious..

So it would suggest that a Shinobigatana was much like a regular sword though with some modifications, such as a leather guard (which probably didn’t look like leather) and a shorter blade with a long rope. So far, it doesn’t suggest the classic ‘Chokuto’ at all..

The plot thickens, and I am still no closer to a definite answer. But to say it is an interesting area of research is an understatement and I’m going to keep digging because there are still quite a few lines of enquiry open – so the search, continues…

Finn and Fuller


Haidong Gumdo is truly a dynamic sword art – and in this short video documentary we take a look at this Korean arts more spiritual aspects – as well as see some truly breathtaking displays of cutting towards the end of the video.

Youtube vid of the Month

YouTube Video of the Month

Always great to see a skilled swordswoman in action too!


If you love your swords BIG this month’s special is for you..

The Cold Steel Nodachi has a 34” blade and a massive 23” handle (almost TWICE as long as a standard Katana) creating a versatile blade that can be gripped like a Naginata – check out the official cold steel video below to see it in action (though if you are a bit squeamish, you might want to skip the middle section where they behead two pig carcasses at once..)

Cold Steel Nodachi

True enough – it’s not a cheap sword – after all Cold Steel sell it for $799.99 and the usual lowest price is $450, but right now it is on special here at for just $404.99 – well worth it if you are into massive swords that are actually build to last (and apparently a butchers best friend!).

SBG Sword Store

This month there are a couple of items for sale, a one-off Oniyuri that was returned by a customer due to a shipping mistake on my part but the blade had been handled excessively and had pitted surface rusting from fingerprints..

This sword has been cleaned up and repolished but the finish is still not quite perfect, and there is a slight ding in the saya, but it is being sold in the Hot Specials section of the site for $179.99 (normally $234.99) and is perfect for someone who wants to use their sword a lot and doesn’t mind about minor cosmetic stuff.

Plus in the hot specials section I am pleased to relist the stunning Hattori 2204 Folded steel Katana (pictured below).

Hattori 2204

And don’t forget, until I get back from Australia you get a 5% discount on any and all orders using the discount code August 2011 - while orders placed now will not be processed until I get back from Australia around the 15th of so, you can lock in the discount now and save some money in exchange for waiting up to a couple of weeks before your order ships – so certainly a good time to save some money and ensure the site still has enough funds to keep going when I get back.


Tactical swords are not to everyone’s taste – but from a purely FUNCTIONAL point of view, they are pretty much perfection and bring the sword into the 21st century.

Hanwei’s offering has it all – modern chequered Kraton handle for a secure hold, 5160 carbon steel, plasma coated blade, fibreglass scabbard, lanyard holes, paracord – you name it, it has it. And as it has only recently become available as a follow up to their extremely popular Tactical Wakizashi, stocks are limited and it is going to sell out fast..

Tactical Katana

Both of SBG’s most highly recommended sellers stock it at the moment for the lowest prices around – Kult of Athena have it here for $139.95 and Trueswords have it here for $149.99 – bearing in mind the final price will depend on where you are in relation to the sellers as this does not factor in shipping (though Trueswords often have much lower shipping rates than elsewhere, so it tends to even out).

Definitely worth getting as a serious beater that eliminates all the weakpoints of a typical Katana, and looks cool to boot!

Ok, well – time for me to sign off and start getting ready for my trip. I’ll talk to you all when I get back, but in the meantime take care and see you again soon!

Paul Southren

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