Category Archive 'Japanese Sword'
23 Nov 2008

Home Defense With Katana

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The NRA’s Armed Citizen column in American Rifleman has for many years published accounts of successful cases of self defense with firearms. But how often do you read a story of someone defending his home with a samurai sword?

Muncie Star Press:

Muncie man is in jail with samurai sword injuries after allegedly breaking into another man’s home to get his wife back.

Joseph M. Hartman, 28, and his friends Bobby Joe Overbay, 18, and Matthew Michail Wilson, 23, all from Muncie, broke into the home of Jessy Mann, 26, 1910 S. May Ave., early Saturday morning to “take Hartman’s estranged wife by force,” according to the Muncie Police Department.

In a telephone interview on Saturday, Mann gave this version of the incident:

The three men knocked at the door and refused to leave when Mann asked them to do so. Then they entered the home and began throwing objects at him, including an alarm clock and furniture. Mann grabbed a collectible sword to defend himself and swung at the three men, hitting Hartman in the head and chest and Overbay in the forehead.

“It was crazy,” Mann said. “It was like something you would see in a movie.”

At one point, Mann said Hartman found his wife, from whom he is separated, in the bedroom calling the police, and he grabbed her by the hair.

“They were saying ‘Just let us take her, just let us take her.’ I was like ‘You ain’t taking nobody from my house,” Mann said.

Hartman and his friends left the home without his wife. Before fleeing, they got into a Jeep Cherokee and ran into the house three times and then drove away.

The police arrested the suspects and took them to Ball Memorial Hospital before booking them into the Delaware County Jail with no bond. …

Mann said he never intended to use the sword as a weapon and he was glad no one was killed.

“I just like swords,” he said. “I just have them around for novelty. I never expected I’d have to do some crazy stuff like that.”

20 Jan 2008

Tameshigiri (Senbongiri)

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Circulating in martial arts circles this morning are a pair of videos from Japanese television of an attempt by someone whose name I couldn’t catch trying to make his mark in the Guinness Book of Records in Tameshigiri, the cutting with a sword of makiwara (targets) made from tatami (rush floor mats) rolled around a bamboo shaft.

The particular feat being attempted is Senbongiri, 1000 cuts in as short a time as possible.

Introductory 8:24 video

1001 cuts in 36:06 7:28 video

In the year 2000, however, Russell McCartney of the Ishi Yama Ryu school of Seattle performed 1181 consecutive cuts without a miss in 1hr 25min: 5:45 video

11 May 2007

Forging the Japanese Sword

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Living National Treasure Yoshindo Yoshihara demonstrates the complex process of creating the Japanese sword in the German-language 9:15 video.

28 Apr 2007

Katsujin-ken Satsujin-to

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Dan Simpson‘s editorial is an unfortunately typical expression of the excessive and exaggeratedly phobic attitudes of members of our over-domesticated, metrosexual intelligentsia toward firearms.

Guns are regarded as detestable and intrinsically dangerous objects which need to be kept under official control at all times, ideally in bank vaults. Their complete removal from American society is so unquestionably desirable that even house-to-house searches, and the shredding of the Bill of Rights, would be a perfectly acceptable price.

Obviously, this kind of policy proposal represents not a practical response to a real problem, but rather an irrational and emotional outburst, indifferent to benefits and costs, oblivious to process and law, expressive of an overwhelming combination of fear and aversion so profound as to dispense completely with practicality, proportionality, and cause and effect.

This kind of hostility toward firearms, this hoplophobia, needs to be recognized as the kind of irrationalism that it is.

In a sane society, familiarity and skill with arms, possession of the ability to defend oneself and others would be looked upon as essential components of every man’s education.

In dojos offering training in kendo and aikido, the following phrase written in the grass script on a scroll is commonly hung for purposes of admonition and inspiration.

These Japanese radicals are pronounced Katsujin-ken Satsujin-to (sometimes, Katsujinken satsujinken) meaning “The sword which kills is the sword which gives life.”

They are often rendered more explicitly in English as “The sword which cuts down evil is the sword which preserves life.”

This adage is attributed to the masters of Yagyū school, the Tokugawa shoguns’ personal instructors in swordsmanship.

And those Yagyū school sword sensei-s were right. The rightful use of weapons is essential in an imperfect world to defend innocent lives against unjust violence.

A wider commitment to skill at arms and a more common readiness to defend the innocent would be infinitely more effective at saving the lives of victims of attacks by madmen and criminals than a totalitarian program attempting to enforce universal disarmament.

Katsu-tempo satsu-tempo.

At Virginia Tech, a gun in the hands of the right bystander could have been the gun which destroyed evil and the gun which preserved life.

15 Apr 2007

Japanese Sword Cutting Bottle

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It’s very short and has no sound track, so I was not going to blog it, but everyone who has seen it seems to love this video of a Japanese sword slicing through a plastic bottle. Sharp, isn’t it?

0:51 video

24 Nov 2006

Closing Down This Year’s Dai Token Ichi (Great Japanese Sword Show)

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Close of 19th Dai Token Ichi (leading Japanese Sword Show) held October 27-29, 2006 at the Tokyo Bijutsu Club – Pt. 1 – 2:57 video — Pt. 2 – 0:51 video

Yes, it’s just a pair of videos of the Japanese dealers packing up their merchandise at the show’s end in preparation for departure, but we didn’t get to go this year, and it is intriguing for Nihonto enthusiasts to catch even a glimpse of the swords offered for sale at this event.

30 Aug 2006

Tsuba on Tosogu.com

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There is write-up on a tsuba (Japanese sword guard) for which we are temporary custodian on Rich Turner’s Tosogu.com. This one has a nautical motif. Tosogu means Japanese furniture in general.

19 Aug 2006

Slow Blogging Due To Japanese Sword Show

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Blogging is very light this weekend as the management has been attending the San Francisco Token Kai.

12 Aug 2006

Aotsu Yasutoshi Collection Exhibition

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Aotsu Yasutoshi (1893-1984)

Mr Richard Turner, one of Australia’s leading Nihonto collectors and authorities, has started a blog (Tosogu.com) devoted to the discussion of Japanese sword furniture which will undoubtedly prove of great interest to collectors and connoisseurs.

The first posting announces the exhibition at the Sukagawa City Museum in Fukushima of the collection of the tosogu (Japanese sword furniture) of the late Aotsu Yasutoshi, who left an extraordinary collection, assembled over seventy years of collecting, including some 420 tsuba (swordguards) of extremely high quality and aesthetic interest.

The current exhibition is available on-line. There is no translation, but the viewer needs only to click on the left/right arrows to navigate the site.


Ko-Katchushi (Armor-maker made) tsuba, probably mid-Muromachi (c. 1392-1467 AD) – design motif: snowflakes

04 Aug 2006

Water Jet Cutter Versus Katana

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We’ve all seen the bullet versus katana videos. The same guys evidently did a more recent Japanse television appearance featuring a test of a katana versus a modern industrial water jet cutter. This one is overly long (6:68 minutes), but the sword’s performance is very impressive.

We previously linked one of the earlier videos:

pistol versus katana

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Hat tip to Neil Lanteigne.

12 Apr 2006

Samurai Sword Versus Bullet

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A bullet is fired from a pistol in a rest directly at the edge of a shinsakuto, a newly made samurai sword. There is a winner. video

04 Jan 2006

B.W. Robinson Dead at 93

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B.W. Robinson
photograph courtesy of Yahya Abdelsamad

The Telegraph yesterday, 1/3, reported the sad news of the death of Basil William Robinson, author and Orientalist, on December 29th at the age of 93.

Born in London June 20, 1912, Robinson was educated at Winchester, and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. While at Oxford, he prepared a a B.Litt. thesis on the collection of Persian miniatures in the Bodleian Library, which many years later was to form the basis of a comprehensive catalogue.

Upon completing his degree at Oxford, he accepted the post of headmaster of a school at Bognor Regis. He had been an enthusiast and collector of Japanese art, arms, and armor, since boyhood, and in the capacity of a collector became acquainted with A.J. Koop, Assistant Keeper of the Metalwork Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. An inquiry resulted in a friendship, and with Koop’s encouragement, he sought a post at the Museum. He was runner-up for an Assistant Keeper’s position, but the favorite soon resigned; and, in 1939, Robinson succeeded to the appointment.

He joined the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1942, enlisting in the ranks, but was sent to officer training school, and then commissioned (on the basis of his knowledge of Urdu) in the 2nd Punjab Regiment. He subsequently served as an Intelligence Officer in the Headquarters of 14 Army, which defeated the Japanese in the course of the campaign in Burma whose major actions were the battles of Imphal and Kohima.

After the end of the war, Robinson was sent to Singapore to be employed, on the basis of his knowledge of Japanese swords, in evaluating large quantities of swords surrendered by the defeated enemy. He was able to obtain the services of Colonel Yamada Sakae, of the 3rd Air Force, who had been a member of the sword evaluating committee of the Japanese War Office, to assist in his task.

He returned to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1946. In the years following the war, Robinson proved a prolific author, publishing monographs on Persian miniatures and paintings, on Japanese swords and armor, and on the woodblock prints of Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi. His The Arts of the Japanese Sword (1961) was one of a small number of post-WWII publications in European languages which played a crucial role in opening up the study of Nihonto to Western students and collectors.

He became Deputy Keeper of Metal work in 1954, and succeeded the illustrious Charles Oman as Keeper in 1966. In 1967, Robinson was elected honorary president of the To-ken Society of Great Britain. He was president of the Royal Asiatic Society from 1970 to 1973. He was Keeper Emeritus at the Victoria and Albert from 1972 until his retirement in 1976. He is remembered with gratitude for his many contributions to the advancement of learning, and with affection by many friends, students, and long-time correspondents.

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Yahya Abdelsamad, Basil William Robinson, Japanese Sword Society of the United States Newsletter, 37:1, February, 2005.

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