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Sword Buyers Digest - December 2009
December 01, 2009

Paul Southren Welcome to the final edition of the Digest for 2009. As with previous years, we won’t be releasing another issue until February next year, so as with previous years – the December issue is JAM PACKED full of ‘swordly’ goodness..

This month we have the COOLEST online historical sword related sword I have yet encountered (recommended by a digest reader), 6 videos of the month, the return of the sword industry news editorial (and man, are there some cool new medieval swords out right now!), all the usual articles and we welcome WMA instructor Steaphen Fick from DEMAS to our editorial team, plus much more!

Probably time to grab a mug of eggnog I’d say!


3. SBG Sword Store News
4. 21st CENTURY SWORDSMAN: By Steaphen Fick, DEMAS
6. COLLECTORS CORNER: “End of Season”
8. VIDEO of the MONTH: Special Edition


I’m pretty happy with the way November panned out – the first big bit of news is that the site wide overhaul is now officially completed! (yay!).

Of course, as a glutton for punishment, and with my overhaul glands still pumping I could not help but to do a bit of an overhaul on both the SBG Sword Store and Sword Manufactures Guide too – but neither were (thankfully) anywhere near as intensive as SBG’s ‘facelift’..

When you have a spare moment, please have a look at them all and see what you think!

Anyway, with all the sites more or less cosmetically updated a bit (though there is still work to be done on the store and SMG over the coming months) I finally had some time to add a few brand new reviews to the site with MANY more being worked on behind the scenes to be released over December and January..!

Another bit of newsworthy, er, news – is that the old sword questions page has been updated and moved out from it’s semi hidden position (hidden because I found myself spending hours answering personal emails as well as replying to the questions page, and it all got too much!)

Anyway, site visitors may post a question there and once or twice a week and I will go over it and answer three of the best or most frequently asked questions for that week, with the answers also appearing on the blog (Click here to read this weeks Q&A). I think (and hope) it will be a vibrant and continually relevant addition to the site!

Much more planned for the next couple of months at least, so to watch it unfold as it happens be sure to check our news section, or better yet subscribe to our RSS feed here.


After a long absence during the overhaul, I am pleased to say that our sister site Sword Manufacturers Guide is starting to wake up again and smell the coffee!

With a new facelift to kick start it (that is, mind you, only temporary – but more than adequate for the time being), some improved site navigation and some much needed updates to the various manufacturers listed (plus more to be listed over the coming months to fill it all out) it is slowly starting to regain some of its lost momentum.

But for now, let’s see what has been happening with the return of the Industry news section of the digest, starting with the latest developments:


While I have not had the time to add them to the SBG sword store just yet (though you can of course still buy them for a lower price from SBG upon request) – Darksword have added some truly stunning new products to their range, including my personal favorite the Black Prince, which ordered for my own collection the second I saw it (pictured below):

DSA Black Prince

If you look through their gallery pages you’ll see quite a few other nice new additions – and with all the improvements that they have added to their already excellent line up over the last few months (and some new models that have not yet been added to the site!) .

All the recent changes have been updated to the SMG Darksword page here as well as links to their galleries - if you have not seen them for a while it is WELL worth having a good look..!

VALIANT ARMORY: Hedemark Viking Sword

Just in time for Christmas, Valiant Armory have just released their much anticipated Hedemark Viking Sword – and as expected, it looks like a beauty!

Valiant Hedemark Sword

Another new release is the equally long awaited ‘Actium’ Roman Gladius – which was delayed slightly as the forge decided on their own that the hilts should be epoxied to the tang, while Valiant Armory and Christian Fletcher who designed it had other ideas… ;-)

Unfortunately, these are a little hard to track down at the moment as most of them have been sold to various vendors in small quantities and are selling out so fast everywhere that the chances of getting one are pretty low, though we do make a few suggestions in the Valiant Armory Newsfeed here on SMG (there is a lot of news for this month at VA, much more than I have room to write about in the digest, so please have a look when you get a chance).


Apart from a major change to the way the SBG Sword Store looks cosmetically, I have also added a new Sword Store News section which will be updated whenever there are new products, specials or updates on the SBG exclusive lines that I hope sword store customers will find useful.

The store ‘overhaul’ is not quite finished yet, but I believe that it looks a lot crisper and cleaner and (hopefully) easier to navigate.

Anyway, I wanted to give everyone a quick update on the Official SBG Katana Series Swords as the first batch of production swords have been finished and are about to be making their way out to everyone who has pre-ordered either a Kuramono or the Torakami (and a lot of the first custom option swords have also been finished and are on their way too).

Below are a couple of pics direct from the forge of a random Kuramono from the first batch.

Kuramono Katana Fittings

Kuramono Katana Hamon

Within the next couple of weeks we will start taking more pre-orders on the Kuramono and the a limited edition run of the Torakami (we plan on offering new limited edition designs every few months instead of just churning out the same sword, more on this in another edition of the digest!).


I should also mention that in the next couple of weeks, apart from opening up on new pre-orders of the official SBG Katana line, but yet ANOTHER semi-secret project is about to be unveiled – as well as the new line of DSA swords added to the site (if I can find the time to stop drooling about the black prince sword that is!) so the best way to see what is happening is to visit the Sword Store News section frequently, you might be pleasantly surprised.. ;-)

21st Century Swordsman
“Talking swords and swordsmanship with Steaphen Fick”

Steaphen Fick from DEMAS My name is Steaphen Fick, and I love the sword. I am the founder and head instructor at Davenriche European Martial Artes School in Santa Clara, CA ( I have written and published a book called ‘The Beginner’s Guide to the Long Sword’, published by Black Belt Books (ISBN 0897501780). I and my school are on the special features disk of Reclaiming the Blade by Galacia Films and a day with me was the grand prize for their fightfinder give away.

When I was a kid I could always be found with my nose in a book, usually a fantasy book, and a desire to live in a different time. All I wanted to do was swing a sword and fight the bad guys. I knew that it couldn’t be that difficult, the hardest part would be to build up the muscles to be able to swing the 25 pound sword.

When I wasn’t reading about sword fighting, I was out in the yard with my friends with makeshift swords. I got into more trouble with my mother as I broke her broom handles and dented up our trashcan lids. If I couldn’t find a broom or mop handle to swing, I was perfectly happy with using curtain rods. That went over even worse than the broken broom handles!

Then in 1989 when I was at a renaissance faire a friend of mine told me that he was invited to participate in an armoured fight with a group. He asked me if I would like to come along and try it out, too. I can remember thinking that their swords would be so heavy that I would just use my rapier (it was actually a double wide epee blade) and stab them in all the openings that the armour offers. I’d be so fast that they wouldn’t be able to touch me. Imagine my surprise when I got there and they told me I was going to be in armour, too.

My friend went first, and was schooled by the guy he was fighting. When he came off the field he told me, “they’ll try to back you up, don’t let them.” That was my only instruction going into my first fight. Well, I figured if I wasn’t going back I must be going forward, so I screamed (which was louder in my helmet than outside) and charged him. In retrospect, that probably was not the best idea. He never even used his sword on me. He waited for me and then stepped out of the way and threw me over his hip. After picking myself up, I knew what I needed to do. So, I screamed and charged him again! Nope, still didn’t work so I figured I’d give it one more chance. After picking myself up for the third time off the ground I was done, but I was hooked! In was with this group from 1989 to about 1996.

In 1999 I went to Scotland and studied different weapons and styles, as well as competing in tournaments and battle reenactments around the UK for 6 months. I started my school in 2000 teaching the use of the longsword to a few people, mostly kids, and have been teaching people from the ages of 10 to 78 ever since. In December 2009 I moved into a new larger 2700 sq ft Salle D’Armes (school), still dedicated specifically to the study of European martial arts in Santa Clara, CA. I teach swordfighting five days a week, seminars on weekends, and I have been able to turn this into my full time job since 2002. In addition I’ve taught at seminars and workshops in the US, Canada and Britain.

I am looking forward to writing a monthly article for this e-zine. I plan to write about many different kinds of weapons and the techniques involved with their use.

Steaphen Fick
DEMAS (Davenriche European Martial Arts School)


Ebay Stores and Direct from China Katana
An excellent list of reliable sellers and breakdown of the pros and cons of ‘going direct’ from a Chinese forge via ebay. Not for the faint of heart, but a good source for inexpensive blades...

How does a (medieval) swords balance affect its cutting?
A sword with a point of balance close to the hilt might feel quite lightweight and easy to weild, but does its cutting power suffer as a result? And what about blade harmonics and weight distribution? Very interesting discussion and an excellent link in there too.

Basic Katana Repair and Maintenance
The original info in this post comes from – but it is basically REQUIRED reading for anyone wondering about how to care for and maintain their Katana.

Spinning Swords and fancy moves
It looks cool, but is there any practical benefits to it? Some great comments, vids and more!

“The End of Season”

Welcome to the very first Collector’s Corner to be written while the author (that’s me!) is on heavy painkillers following wisdom tooth removal surgery! So bear with me, I hope this all will make sense. But it’s ok, the Great Gazoo is floating around here somewhere and he promised me he’d proofread this for me, so I’m sure it’ll make sense.

Collectors Corner

Proofreader’s note: Of course it will, dum-dum!

Recently up here in the Great White North, the first few flakes of snow began to dance their way to the ground. For most Canadians, this is the time to get out the winter clothes, hang up the Christmas lights, and test the block heaters on our cars (block heaters being one of the more hilarious ways to catch out American tourists in Canada, as they point to the power cords coming from under the hood of all our cars and say, “Look at all the electric cars!” Good times, that.)

Yes, winter is on its way, bringing with it cold weather and a shift in activities – from hiking to skiing, from swimming to snowboarding, from soccer and football (which apparently are the same thing, but not always? This should show everyone that I’m not really a jock...) to hockey and, uh girl’s hockey. This means that sword collectors (such as myself) try and squeeze in one last cutting party before our water bottles will freeze into solid bricks that, while interesting for destructive testing purposes, would not be healthy for the weapons or nearby practitioners.

Collectors Corner

These may be bad for your sword. Just saying.

The end of the season cutting party is a sad event, one that reminds me of those funerals in movies about Vikings. You know, the ones where they all gather around and then light a boat on fire that’s filled with all the Viking’s stuff.

Don’t look at me like that, it makes sense.

Anyways, the last cutting party of the season is a sombre affair, with veteran collectors standing off to the sides, quietly oiling their blades while the newbies demolish the carefully crafted bottle cutting stand. The circle of life, ladies and gentlemen.

Collectors Corner

Above: Typical Canadian cutting party. Not pictured: A lack of Awesomeness.

Once the cutting portion of the cutting party has ended, blades are cleaned and put away, and the group heads inside. Conversations turn to plans for the winter, sword related and otherwise. Perhaps plans for future purchases of a long and sharp nature may be discussed, and Christmas lists may be adjusted accordingly. Someone may notice that a sword they brought seems to be missing, and possibly certain cars may be searched. It’s like a Christmas family gathering, but with slightly more implements of death.

Collectors Corner

Now picture this being done with a Hanwei Lowlander. Yeah. That's what I thought.

That's actually not a bad analogy... sword collecting does bring you into an odd sort of family, doesn't it? And like every family we make connections to each other in little ways. That's why no matter how great some expensive swords may be, the connections to be made with the smaller forges can make all the difference. Even though I own more expensive swords, my Darksword Armoury pieces are special to me because I know the owner of DSA. I'll point customers to Jason at Imperial Weapons because I know from experience that they will get properly taken care of, and might not just walk away with a quality sword but also a friend. Thinking about it like that kinda puts me in a Christmas mood.

Collectors Corner

Above: The true spirit of Christmas.

So Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays, and see you nest cutting season. May your days be merry and bright, and may none of your swords rust while in storage.


Since it is the end of the year, and we won’t be back until February – rather than just give you ONE video of the month, I thought I might as well have a look through my youtube ‘favorites’ vault and show you a few that NEARLY made the cut for the VoM, but just missed out..

Rather thank link all the videos individually below, I have created a playlist featuring 6 of my favorite youtube vids that didn’t make it – from James Williams cutting with an Albion sword, to an AEMMA ‘Webmercial’, a Huano swords forging video and some exotic Indian sword play – I hope you’ll find them as amusing as I did!

Youtube vid of the Month

You Tube Video of the Month

Don’t forget, one of the secrets of true ‘tube-fu’ is to search on related vids or check the favorites of the guy or girl who posted it to uncover more gems, hidden and otherwise..

FREE SWORD GAME – 1066 The Game

Last month I recieved and email from one of our subscribers, Jared who said that last months ‘Barbarian’ game was good, but he knew of a better one...

Naturally, in need of a quick distraction (after all, with so much work needing to be done on the site – I generally only have time for quick flash games or 20 minutes here and there on the wii) I checked it out – and Jared was right!

Set in the year 1066, the game consists of three major historical battles between the Vikings, the Saxons and the Normans – and the gameplay is both very addictive, detailed and fun! And best of all, like most flash games on the internet, it doesn’t cost a red cent to play.

Click to play

Have fun! (they key to winning the battles is – solid tactics (as expected) – and not forgetting to demoralize the enemy and keep your sides spirits up with a well timed family friendly, “authentic to period” (sort of) taunt whenever you can (you’ll know what I mean soon enough!).


A selection of hot product discounts and clearouts from our affiliated vendors. Grab a bargain and support SBG at the same time!


10% Discount Coupon Code!

With the margins of the SBG sword store being extremely low to begin with, it’s pretty hard to offer any further discounts...

So it should come as no surprise that a blanket 10% discount coupon code offer is not something that I can afford to sustain for very long, nor offer to anyone but my loyal friends and subscribers.

To take advantage of the 10% discount offer, simply enter the coupon code:


And each and every already discounted item in your shopping cart will be further reduced..!

Because we honestly can’t afford to run this kind of discount promotion for very long (and because, if you want to take advantage of the offer to get some Christmas presents, but need to allow for delivery times) this coupon code will ONLY be valid for the next 7 days, so if you want to take advantage of it – you’ll need to act fast...

SBG Sword Store

Well, that’s it for 2009 – I’m taking a bit of a break from writing the digest until February as usual, so hope that you enjoyed this JUMBO issue – and looking forward to seeing you all again in 2010 (should’t we have the technology for laser swords and lightsabres by now? ;-) I always thought that by 2010 we’d have lightsabres, but I digress..).

Have a great one folks, and a safe, happy and enjoyable holiday season!

Paul Southren

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