SBG: In what year did you start your online store and what was the reason that you decided to create it in the first place?
SnA: The Company was founded in October 2008. The founder is a shinkendoka with eight years experience in the knife business and six years experience managing an online blade shop. Most of the employees are either involved directly in Backyard Cutting or some form of traditional sword art, be it JSA or WMA. We all love swords and wanted to turn our hobbies into a profession.
SBG: What is it that you feel separates your store from the competition?
SnA: We are creating quality swords for bargain prices. That's what our in-house line, Munetoshi, is all about. We've put them all through their paces and they measure up exceptionally well. We have test cut with all our Munetoshi swords as well as the other lines we carry such as Hanwei and Musashi . As a result, we know which sword works best for each of us so we can help people decide on the right sword for them as far as balance, weight, length, price range; the list goes on. That way, our customers get the best sword possible for their needs and circumstances.
SBG: This is a tough one I know, but if you had to select just one sword (or line of swords) from all the various blades you sell, which is your personal favorite and why?
SnA: Munetoshi is our favorite line hands down, but as for a single sword, we all have different preferences.
VIDEO: Munetoshi Video Overview
A typical Sword N Armory Video Overview, in this case their JH3201RD Katana
Kevin: Well, I'm about even with two different swords. They both have their merits, and I can't quite seem to pick one over the other. The Nisshoku is way up on the top of my list because of the fact that there are so few shinobigatana on the market as a whole, even less when one is taking aesthetics and function into account. The hamon on these blades are fantastic... a nice big billowing notare in good nie (ara-nie, even, in some cases), deep boshi and some utsuri on a couple of them. The balance is fantastic, as it's a shorter blade and it moves like a bird in the hand... only it actually goes where you want and it's more pleasant (I'm allergic to birds ^_^).
The other would have to be the Katsu. It's a pretty substantial blade, displaying a bright hamon and very calm hada. The hamon is hard yet tough, so it flies through the heavier targets without forcing one to worry about chipping. For interesting activities, I've seen some chikei and tobiyaki as well as a bit of a sudareba feel to some of the pieces' hamon. It's fun to cut with, look at, and even work on.
Greg: If I had to choose my favorite sword it would have to be the Light Cutter. I'm not a very big guy so lighter swords tend to suit me better. However, I'm hard on swords; as it stands I have bent, chipped or torqued at least seven blades so far, but I still haven't been able to damage the Light Cutter. I think that a lot of this has to do with the T10 blade. I've cut with almost every type of steel there is -- with the exception of L6 -- and still always come back to T10. I love the weight and durability of the steel.
The term 'light cutter' seems to turn some people off, but the name Light Cutter refers to the weight and performance of the blade and not what it's capable of cutting. We have done a progressive cutting test with this sword and so far have made it up to a triple roll. I think that with perfect hasuji the blade could take a five mat roll.
However, since I'm not a very big guy I don't do a lot of heavy cutting, so it makes sense that I'm more of a precision and trick cutter. The thin geometry of the blade allows for very clean double cuts. There's almost no resistance when the blade first hits the tatami, and it does not make the mats jump when it exits them. The balance point of the blade is set slightly back so it's not blade heavy at all. This may bother some more traditional practitioners, but for me it means that the blade does not lead me; instead I lead the blade.
Jenn: Do I have to choose? I'm torn between three: the Katsu in red, the Light Cutter and the Kill Bill. Since the other two have been mentioned, I'll go with the Kill Bill.
I know, I know, the name doesn’t exactly conjure up images of fantastic swords, does it? This was the first Munetoshi blade I cut with, and when I first saw it, that's what I thought too. But the name and imagery belie what a fantastic sword it is. It's a light/medium blade and it's usually the first one I'll grab off the rack. It eats mats and bottles with an equal amount of gusto for both and comes out none the worse for wear, regardless of user error. I don't think I've even seen one of these swords get bent, despite poor hasuji on the user's part. It's light enough that it can be cut with all day and your muscles won't be fatigued afterwards. Also, the theme is done tastefully. It doesn't scream 'Kill Bill' like so many replicas out there do. The carving on the saya and the horimono are both done very tastefully, the tsuba actually looks nice and the whole sword just flows well.
Additionally, this sword is strong and well-made. It is T-10 monosteel with a real hamon, and the heat treat on it is fantastic. I've watched this sword get driven into wooden stands, stand pegs, double rolled mats, even asphalt (whoops!) and at most it's needed a quick sharpening and it's ready to go again. It's truly a fantastic - and fantastically tough - sword, and one of my personal favorites.
SBG: What are the most common questions people ask you when they visit your store?
SnA: The most common questions we get are about steel types, such as what's the difference between T-10 and 1065, what's so great about forge-folded as opposed to monosteel, what's the difference in a real and aesthetic hamon and how does it affect the swords performance.
SBG: Without giving away any trade secrets, what are your plans for the future and how do you see the sword industry evolving as a whole in the coming years?
SnA: Our plans for the future are growth and expansion! There are new lines we're considering bringing into our product family as well as expanding our own line of Munetoshi blades. As far as how the sword industry is evolving, we can easily see it turning into a much more competitive place as more people get interested in martial arts, backyard cutting, reenactment, SCA and LARP. This will be fantastic for consumers, as better blades will be available for increasingly lower prices and that's something that is beginning to be reflected in the market now. Plus, there's still much research involving steel types and durability going on, and we're seeing exciting results with this.
I hope that you enjoyed this interview with Swords of the East. To return to the Sword Buyers Directory from Interview with SwordnArmory, click here