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Sword Buyers Digest - February 2010
February 01, 2010

Paul Southren What a busy couple of months it has been, even though on the surface (as is often the case) it doesn’t look that way..!

Anyway, after a two month hiatus, the digest is back for 2010 and this issue is a HUGE one..!

This month we have all the usual site news and regular features, including Dan’s review of a LARP movie, Stephen Fick’s ‘long and short of sword edges’ article, a cool instructional video of Viking swords by the late, great Hank Reinhardt, and everything else that we normally feature – PLUS I also take a trip down memory lane with some early SBG reviews and old editions of the digest, introduce the AUSTRALIAN SWORD FESTIVAL to be held in April this year, and offer an opportunity to anyone who has the motivation to JOIN THE SBG team and get some fantastic rewards for their time and effort..

And that is just what is there off the top of my head..!

So please, settle in for a good half hour or so and enjoy!


2. SBG Sword Store News
3. 21st CENTURY SWORDSMAN: By Steaphen Fick, DEMAS
5. BLAST FROM THE PAST 6. VIDEO of the MONTH: Viking Swords with Hank Reinhardt
7. COLLECTORS CORNER: “Sword Movie Review: Darkon – the LARP Documentary”


As usual (sighs) I never quite got everything done on the site over the last two months that I was planning to – I must admit, as SBG grows bigger it is getting a heck of a lot harder to manage by myself, never mind grow..!

I am actually putting in several strategies to help deal with the overload and bring in some outside assistance as there are a lot of half finished projects just begging for a little more time to polish them and put them on the site – but more on this later (and indeed, there is quite a ground floor opportunity discussed later in the digest!).

Anyway, while a lot of reviews and projects did not quite make it in time to be mentioned in this edition of the digest, we did add a couple in the last few days, including my most recent one that has been some 6-8 months in the making, and that is for Musashi Swords Bamboo Katana but I recently took delivery of several new swords, including some new medieval blades (as it seems sometimes that all I do is review Katana, which I must admit are probably my favorite types of swords, but I love anything long, sharp and pointy!).

The only other real article that I was able to get completed and on the site was my overview of Ronin Katana’s new heavy duty Dotanuki blades, which you can read about here:

Ronin Katana Heavy Duty Dotanuki Blades Overview

Another newsworthy event was that arguably THE most popular sword seller (both for their prices, customer service and fast shipping) – Kult of Athena – had their servers crash around Christmas time and have only recently recovered.

As they tend to have the lowest prices around on pretty much EVERY sword that they stock (and they stock a lot of swords!), this meant that a whole heap of pages on SBG suddenly had dead links – and I spent a fair amount of January relinking them, as well as updating their new prices (I seriously cannot believe their prices on Hanwei swords!), changing the basic format of how the main pages link to the reviews(which I hope is a lot cleaner and easier to read) and some other time consuming corrections and tweaks that are still ongoing..

This mini-overhaul is actually paving the way for some new additions to the site which I hope to have completed within the next 3 months that include a more consistent format across each major sword category, a few more pages in the ‘community’ section (including some rather light hearted and amusing ones!) and a few other cool tools and resources in development for the sword community that I’ll tell you all about later! ;-)

Since I am still working on tweaking everything behind the scenes, I can’t promise exactly what will happen when, but stay tuned – I assure you that when everything comes together you will be quite pleasantly surprised..!

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.


In January we added a new exclusive product line to the SBG Sword Store – the heavy duty ‘Dotanuki’ blades by Ronin Katana.

Ronin Katana Dotanuki Katana

If you haven’t done so already, you can read the full story about Ronin Katana and how these swords came to be added to the store on the site here:

In summary - these swords are a bit heftier than a regular Katana, Dotanuki Katana have quite a thick blade with significant ‘niku’ (meat) and are fairly obscure (though fans of the Japanese series Lone Wolf and Cub would no doubt be familar with them!) and were often used by the second to humanely and easily lop off the head of a Samurai performing Seppuku/hara-kiri..! (so naturally, they are extremely powerful cutters).

Other store news is that we have recently opened up on taking new orders for the popular Official SBG Katana series blades with another batch of 30 Kuramono Katana.

Kuramono Katana

While we have experienced some delays getting the first batch out to everyone (in truth, it has been pretty stressful and time consuming!) – quite a few have already been delivered (and there is an official 'arrival's thread on the forum here with pics of one of the first sword received by Dan Dacombe from collectors corner), so if you are interested in getting one from the batch currently in production, you’ll need to get your pre-order in asap as spaces are filling up fast!

More updates will be posted in the Sword Store News Section - and I should also mention that we are also planning a store upgrade to better provide news and updates to our customers, as well as just give the store a facelift, so stay tuned!

Sword Industry News


Our sister site needs YOUR help!

SMG needs REPORTERS, people who naturally check all the forums everyday for news, visit manufactuers websites to see what is new every few days, and who generally have their fingers on the pulse of the sword industry (or who are willing to give it ago, after all, sword news is rarely dull or uninteresting!).

What I am looking for is a team of up to three independent REPORTERS who are willing to send me industry reports every few days, and if I use the submitted materials reporters can accumulate reward points that can be cashed in for swords, travel allowances to go and see manufacturers warehouses and sword stores, and VIP access to the movers and shakers of the sword industry to keep the rest of us up to date with what is happening!

Basically, I am looking for up to three people with decent journalistic writing skills, a real passion for swords and sword news, and who want to make a difference to the sword community while getting rewarded for their time and effort!

To apply, simply email me back with an example of what you would consider a relevant sword industry news story, conduct an interview with someone in the sword community, or otherwise show me you have what it takes and you can be an official part of the SMG Team!

I’ll tell you more about it soon, and will be posting more info on the forums accordingly, but for now – if it sounds like something you are interested in, either let me know or even better, show me your stuff and you stand a pretty darned chance of getting in on the ground floor as SMG prepares for another round of expansion..!

Hope to hear from you soon!

- Paul


April 24 and 25th sees the first AUSTRALIAN SWORD FESTIVAL to be held in beautiful Sydney, Australia!

Catering to sword enthusiats of all styles and types, sword training seminars are being held by the likes of Scott Rodell, Paul Wagner and other notables – and it promises to be an absolute blast!

Depending on my schedule, which I am trying to re-arrange now to accomodate it, I plan to be attending myself (as a regular student, anyone who has seen my videos knows that I barely know how to handle a sword! Lol) and naturally it is a worthwhile journey, not just to visit Australia, but to immerse yourself in sword culture, make new friends and simply have a whale of a time..!

Registration forms and more information is available here - hope to see as many of you guys there as possible!

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

Steaphen Fick from DEMAS

The longsword, the rapier and the side sword (cut and thrust sword) have two edges, and at different times each edge has an advantage in use over the other edge.

The edges on the sword are called True and False edge, Front and Back edge or Long and Short edge. The True edge is the strongest edge for developing the truest blow on the enemy. It is also the edge that is facing the enemy when you are holding your sword between you and him. The False edge is the edge that you would be looking at. The same is true for the Long and Short edge. You will generally see the term True and False edge in more of the Italian terms, and Long and Short edge in more of the German traditions.

If you strike with the True Edge (long/front), you have the greatest structural support behind the edge because of the way it lines up with your arm and wrist. When using the true edge, you will have a greater strength in your strike, and this can give your strike the advantage of mechanical strength over your adversary’s sword.

If you strike with your False Edge (short/back), you will find that your hilt does not line up with the long bones of your arm. This fact means that you will not have your entire body behind your strike. If your false edge is struck by your adversary’s true edge, then he will be in a stronger mechanical position than you. This weaker position means that your strike can be defended against or set aside easier than if you had the mechanical strength over his weapon.

Sometimes you will also hear the edges referred to as the Long Edge and the Short Edge. The same mechanical rules apply for in the use of the long and short edges, but these names help to remember the distance that can be used with your sword. If you use the long edge you can complete your strike from a greater distance. If you are using your short edge, you must be closer to your adversary to be able to strike him.

The edge you decide to use in your fight, the true/long or false/short edge is determined by many factors. Some of the main deciding factors in your choice of edge is your measure (distance), the angle your adversary is attacking from, and the direction that you are moving in so that you can best protect yourself. Another factor to the decision of the edge you are using is the mechanical advantage you will want over your adversary’s weapon and your plan for your next action.

Steaphen Fick
DEMAS (Davenriche European Martial Arts School)


Why is a $10 Machete more rugged than a $300 sword?
Machetes, deservedly or not, have a reputation for durability that puts many expensive swords to shame. So why choose a sword in the first place? Interesting and thought proviking discussion.

Opinions on the Cold Steel Gross Messer
A few opinions on the Cold Steel Gross Messer, is it all that it is cracked up to be? And what about the old issues with the hilt – have they been fixed (and what to do to permanently ‘peen’ a screw on pommel assembly).

You Know Your Addicted to Swinging When..
Some unusual situations that SBG forum members find themselves in when the urge to swing a Katana simply cannot be held off for a second more....

How Sharp should a sharp sword be?
What are the pros and cons of having a ‘sharp enough’ sword vs a ‘3 ft razor’? And how sharp is ‘sharp enough’? Find the answers and more here!

“Discontinued Swords and Old Reviews”

While going through all the pages on SBG over the past few weeks, I could not help but to occasionally take a little time out to reminisce about a couple of old discontinued swords..

For now, I’ll still be keeping all discontinued sword reviews on the site, as even though the specific sword may not be available, there is still some helpful info there that is relevant to what IS currently available (such as identifying recurring issues that tend to pop up with a given manufacturer, etc) – but right now I’d like to share with you a few old reviews of discontinued swords that I can’t help but feel a little sentimental about...

Even though my own personal collection is continually rotated, one sword that I’ll always be holding on to is my first Windlass sword – the European Sword, which of course used to be the logo for SBG for the first couple of years at least: Original SBG Logo

Even though it is extremely simple, it truly was an extremely well made sword and I’ve actually talked with Windlass about having in brought back for one last run.. (it still may happen, but I’ve got too many irons in the forge to do it any time soon).

Another one of my most enjoyable to make reviews was the comparative review of two early Musashi swords where the original Wind DragonKatana was discovered..

I recently (as of Tuesday actually) receieved another couple of cheap Musashi swords (one of which is the $39 Samurai Special Bamboo Katana ) that I plan to test as soon as I implement some of the systems I am trying to put into place to free up some of my time – can’t say too much at this point as I have only looked them over, but so far, not too bad!

Anyway, while we are taking a trip down memory lane, long term subscribers might recall that in 2006/07 we experimented for a while with delivering the Sword Buyers Digest in a PDF format.. (like the site itself, the digest has had quite a few different incarnations!).

I recently found myself going through all the old back issues (obstensibly to try and find out if I had already listed this months video of the month in a previous issue as I could not believe that I had missed it!) and could not help but feel a little nostalgic when I flipped through the 10 page pdf magazine format we experimented with back in late 2006 and early 2007..

Have a look here at the February edition from three years ago to see what I mean..

For now, we will still be keeping the same basic ‘email’ format for the digest, but nothing is set in stone – and I kind of like the ‘real’ magazine look and feel – so who knows what the future holds (though if we were to really bulk up the digest again like that, it would be a quarterly publication instead of monthly as I remember I had to spend at least a couple of weeks writing the old one! Lol).


This short 2 min clip is a true classic..

Taken from the VHS video (yes, VHS!) “Viking Sword – How to Use the the Viking Sword in Real Combat” by the late legendary figure Hank Reinhardt himself, even this short clip is an absolute joy to watch – and in only a few minutes Hank demonstrates several very effective and clever Viking sword fighting techniques in a very clear and easy to understand manner.

Youtube vid of the Month

You Tube Video of the Month

Fans of Hanks work may also be interested to know that you can pick up a copy of his final work, The Book of Swords (created from the first draft, with an intended chapter on Arab swords the only part not covered before his untimely death) as well as buy some of the swords from his personal collection, read articles and much more at his memorial website:

“Sword Movie Review: Darkon – the LARP Documentary”

Dan Dacombe

While trolling my local video rental store for more terrible sword movies (and finding such gems as “An Empress and the Warriors,” starring Donnie Yen – one of my favourite Chinese actors who was unfortunately utterly wasted in this film.

Is it too much to ask to have Donnie Yen fighting improbably large armies by himself for the full movie instead of just twenty minutes?

I didn’t want a drama-romance, I wanted a pile of bodies so large it would be visible from space. I have my needs.), I ran across this little gem:

This looks promising...

I actually rented it without knowing what it was at first; I wrongly assumed that it was a generic fantasy movie and I would spend a nice evening at home quietly mocking it and having a small pile of buffalo wings. Life’s simple pleasures. Then I popped it in, and was treated to a scene of some rather.... obviously made up “dark elves” performing a ceremony at night. At first I figured they were white actors in “black face” makeup, which I thought was in a little poor taste. Then my next thought was, “Gee, exceptionally low production values. Guess I won’t see Ron Pearlman in this one...” When the next scene showed an American suburb, I was completely lost. The Dark Elves were from New Jersey?

And then I realized: This was no movie. It was a documentary. A 2006 documentary about a group of Live Action Role Players involved in a game called Darkon, where they created elaborate characters for themselves and then tried to brain each other with foam covered sticks, moving imaginary armies across a map and engaging in pretend battles in parks and other public areas.

Spartans! What is your profession?

Well, this was even better than I thought! As every nerd knows, there’s nothing quite like finding someone nerdier than you and feeling superior to them. Trek fans vs Star Wars fans, Lord of the Rings fans vs Harry Potter fans, Twilight fans vs people with functioning brain stems. It’s everywhere. And I was about to engage in this age-old pastime, what fun, right? I mean, what kind of person dresses up on weekends and swings fake swords around? Ha! How silly, says I, who swings around real swords and only sometimes considers dressing up. Really, who does that?

Above: well adjusted

So here’s the catch – I actually got really into this movie. The film interspersed scenes of the players in character with scenes of them at home or at work in their “normal” lives, and I found myself leaning forward and becoming engrossed in these very real people in front of me. From successful businesspeople to stay at home dads, from high school students to former strippers and everyone in between, there was an incredible mix of people who all came together to participate in what amounted to Dungeons and Dragons, but with foam latex instead of a D20. And these were people who had in many cases very normal lives, at least by most standards of our Western culture.

I’m casting “thousand yard stare” for 10 mana.. Some of them had very articulate arguments about why they engaged in games like Darkon. One even commented that we all play roles in our lives – you play the role of good employee, of good citizen, of good salesperson, etc., and at least in Darkon you had control over the role that you played. Others joined for reasons like needing exercise, wanting to make new friends, or (in some cases, I suspect) wanting to have power that they lacked in real life. There were even interviews with parents of some players who said how Darkon had helped their child become more confident in real life, able to pursue a challenging career and relationships that were difficult for them prior to playing the immersive fantasy game.

I didn’t think I’d say this, but it was downright heartwarming.

By the end I was on the edge of my seat, rooting for the “heroes” that I wanted to win. I walked away from the movie feeling like these weren’t people I could make fun of, not at all. I don’t think I’d join them in their pursuit but I can certainly respect it. Even my wife was fascinated when I watched it with her a second time, though she told me that if I dressed in furs and asked her to call me Thargor the terrible I might have to sleep in the backyard.

So bottom line: watch this movie. You might think it’s weird, or funny, or too distracting to watch while eating buffalo wings (you don’t want hot sauce in your eye...), but it certainly isn’t boring OR a bad movie. And if there are any Darkon players or other LARPers in your area, maybe swing by the park one day and give them a watch. Maybe it looks like they’re just swinging padded sticks around, but they aren’t just fighting imaginary orcs... they’re fighting things like loneliness, low self esteem, boredom, depression or conformity (Aren’t we all?). So cheer them on if you see them, and wish them well.

And tell them Thargor the terrible sends his best; he’s camping out in a backyard somewhere in Canada so he can’t make the fight – not *this* time, anyway...

Check out the movie site here:


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 and free shipping offer!

If you have checked out the Discount Coupon Page on SBG recently, you may have noticed a new addition from Museum Replicas Limited (MRL) where they are offering a special coupon code (‘sbgweb’ for internet orders and ‘sbgphone’ for phone orders) that will get you 10% of their ENTIRE RANGE of products.

And while this is most definitely a great offer, there are at least a couple of ways to use it to REALLY get some serious bang for your buck..!

Personally, I think it is EXCEPTIONALLY useful for picking up some bargains on their already discounted range of discontinued swords and closeouts - but it also works especially well in their Sample Room which contains quite a few very unique prototypes and other heavily discounted items.

The 10% coupon code is (at least hopefully) a permanent addition to our discount coupon codes page, but from now until March the 15th there is a SECOND code (available on the front page of their website here that also offers a FREE SHIPPING coupon!

Find a bargain, apply the coupons and have fun!

Phew, what a big issue! I think that if this wasn’t the biggest, longest edition of the digest yet, it is pretty darned close..!

Hope you enjoyed it, so until March, take care and happy swordening..! ;-)

Paul Southren

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