Myths of the Katana...

Discussion in 'General Weapons & Armour' started by Justice, Jul 5, 2005.

  1. Mathias Tanavar

    Mathias Tanavar New Member

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    I also saw a doc. on the history of swords that went against your opinion and followed Justices views... Documentaries can be written wrong aswell.
     
  2. Patrick Kelly

    Patrick Kelly New Member

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    You're making a big assumption on who's an expert and who's not. It's not a fact, it's "shite". Just because you see it on the History Channel or Discovery doesn't make it irrefutable fact, nor does it make the person spouting it an expert, it makes them the person who was available at the time to be on television.

    Try getting your butt off the couch and away from the TV, and try reading a book or two. Better yet gain some hands-on experience of your own, or at least spend time talking to a smith who makes a living at the craft.

    I'd be willing to discuss the details of why and how but I'm sure there's a program on the tely you'd have to miss.


    www.myarmoury.com
     
  3. Justice

    Justice New Member

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    I'm with Patrick on this one. The Japanese made an older style sword very similar to a European sword which we call a "ken" nowadays (ken is a typical non descript word for sword, as is the kanji "to" as in "d****" or "nihonto"). Basically a double edged sword with a diamond cross section. Still hardened the same way a katana is, and sharpened the same way a katana is. It is not curved and is deadly sharp.

    The curve is only for slicing ability, which a curved sword can do somewhat better than a straight sword when employing a draw cut. Edge geometry dictates cutting ability. A sword with the sharpest edge ever honed that has too large of a secondary bevel, or a poorly shaped blade won't cut well at all, it doesn't really matter how sharp the blade is. I've cut items with swords that weren't even sharp at all, and they still cut well. Edge geometry is the most important thing, not sharpness.
     
  4. Justice

    Justice New Member

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    And for some reason dai to (minus the space in the middle) is always censored on this website.
     
  5. Jessehk

    Jessehk The introverted

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    Did you ever see that Discovery Channel Ultimate martial arts "thing"?

    I used to study Karate and Kobudo (lack of time now, which is really a shame, because I quite liked it :(), and the things represented in that "documentary" were not true at all. Just because it is on TV, it doesn't always make it real/true. Try to get multiple sources of information if possible. :)
     
  6. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Not meaning to gang up on you or anything Alchemist, but some of our board members are experts. And having some hands on experience with swords, I can tell you that lots of TV academic "experts" don't know squat about the way weapons would really be used in a fight.

    Perfectly said.
     
  7. Alchemist

    Alchemist The Fighters Guide House Member

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    You people are a real riot. Spouting how not to trust anything on TV, but I am apparently supposed to trust some random nerd off of a internet message board. Untill I see a Ph. D then your "expert" opinion means about as much to me as the crap in my cats litter box.
    Now, I am not saying you are wrong on this, after all my experience is not all that great, but so far as I can tell niether is yours. Anyone can claim to be an expert on anything here. Hell, did you know that I am the expert on quantum physics and the worm hole theory.
    Then you pull the line about how you apparently know what I do in my spare time, and what I have and havent read. This further proves my point that you are about as much an expert as I am.
     
  8. Mathias Tanavar

    Mathias Tanavar New Member

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    It is unfair for you to resort to personal attacks like this, These gentlemen have expressed an intrest in weaponry and katana fighting, thats why they are in this board... unlike you it seems who is here to insult people. My basic maths GCSE is enough to tell me that they are right about the sharpness theory and everything i have seen upto this point agrees with what they have said.
    Although you may have been insulted by some of the words used to counter attack you arguments the intention was to inform, unlike yours which was obviously to offend. This is unconstructive and only serve to truly upset people.
     
  9. Alchemist

    Alchemist The Fighters Guide House Member

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    If you cant take the heat. There is a hell of a big difference between informing and attacking. If they chose words that are insulting who is to say that i cannot defend myself. Basically they or he said my knowledge is shit, so i say so is his. I dont give a flying flip who the hell you people claim to be. Your are dots on a computer screen. You have no proof of your so called expertise. So what if I am wrong. Im not the one pretending to be an expert. That, my friend, is just plain sad.

    Oh, dont sling the term "gentlemen" around like that, its insulting to real gentlemen.
     
  10. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Okay, this stops right now.

    Alchemist - you're new here. Older members on this board know who spouts crap, and we know which members know their stuff. Justice is a serious collector of functional swords. He knows his stuff. Patrick Kelly is a serious student of weapons and armour. I'm a re-enactor, so all my experience is hands on.

    We don't know you from a bar of soap. That's not an attack or an insult. You may know your stuff, or you may not. I dunno. But if you want to hang around and contribute, firstly lose the attitude. Secondly, tell us about yourself. What knowledge and experience do you have on this topic? TV is not the most reliable source of information available, not by a long shot. There's a lot of good stuff out there that I've learnt from, and there's a lot of crap I've dismissed because it's completely rubbish and just plain wrong.

    Tell us a bit about yourself, where your knowledge comes from, what experience you have with weaponry and its uses. All we've got to go on is that you saw something on TV, and everything Justice said about edge geometry and straight blade vs curved blade is 100% accurate and verifiable.
     
  11. Patrick Kelly

    Patrick Kelly New Member

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    One thing worth mentioning is the superiority of the curved blade over the straight blade in the drawcut. Given the mechanics of the design, it's logical to assume the the curved blade will be superior to the straight one. However, in this respect it's often overemphasized. Is the curved blade superior in this regard? Probably, but the difference is close enough to be irrelavent. I doubt if the target could tell the difference. There are drawcutting techniques in the medieval manuscripts that utilize the straight blade quite well. Both straight and curved blades were used by nearly every culture that used the sword. In the european context alone there are curved weapons such as the messer, falchion, and grosse sable that were very effective in their day. These types were used side by side with straight bladed swords. The very fact that neither one was used exclusively indicates that there's no apparent supeiority in design either way.

    www.myarmoury.com
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2005
  12. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    Lol, I'm not really into the arms/armor thing (I'm a 4'11" Japanese girl - not for me :D) - BUT I'm interested in how they made katanas back then and how they make them now. Could someone explain this to me? Thanks! :)
     
  13. Longswordsman

    Longswordsman New Member

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    Justice,

    This tread is great and greatly appreciated. You got most of your facts spot on. Just allow me to clarify a small point. Layering does nothing for a blade and is just another myth.

    Allow me to explain:
    Steel is made by combining carbon to iron. The more carbon the better the steel. Thus swords are made of high carbon steel. In Medieval times the steel produced had irregular carbon content and folding the blade during forging was simply to even the carbon distribution. Katanas were not the first swords to be folded. Excavations in Northern Europe have unearthed viking swords dating to the 6th century that were folded 30 times. Thats 1000 years before the katana was fully developed into the sword we know today.

    Today, the quality of steel produced is so good, (extremely regular carbon content) that swords can be made by a process known as stock removal. Cut the shape of the blade from the steel slab and then simply temper it. To forge a sword blade today is simply to employ a traditional method.

    I have in my collection only 5 swords, all functional. Two are stock removal swords of which 1 has differential tempering along its true edge that I have trained with for a year now. I can tell you its just as good as my forged swords.

    Cheers
    Longswordsman
    Additionally, all real swords are tempered, whether differentially or otherwise.
     
  14. Skyanide

    Skyanide The Big Meanie Staff Member

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    The process of forging has two main benefits -- the impact of forging forces the alignment of the crystalline structure into a "grain" that is even and in parallel with the blade shape, giving shock resistance and stability to the piece. Which is why to this day engine components such as high performance ICE engine rods are still forged even though the same stock removal methods are available to automobile manufacturers.

    The reason for forging falling out of favour is threefold; the first two being the homogeneousness of steel stock, and availablity of better alloy combinations negates for the most part the advantages of forging; although you could still forge modern steel to get added benefit, again it is entirely open to debate as to whether this advantage would be apparent enough to today's swordsman. Most swordmen today do not rely on their sword as a means of livelihood, or life or death.

    The third reason that forging has fallen by the wayside has more to do with what we as consumers are willing to accept. Stock removal, CNC machining etc. lends to a greater uniformity and cost-effectiveness over forging; to properly mass-produce a sword properly forged with any uniform accuracy would be absolutely cost prohibitive. Today's discerning collector would be highly critical of a poorly formed, yet fully functional piece with uneven fullers, asymmetrical blades, etc. that a soldier in our past would be forced to accept (while at the same time would be willing to pay if in fact this was indeed an acutal historic piece.)

    Forging over stock removal? Yes, there are still advantages, but when weighing the cost vs. benefit for the backyard soldier or collector of today, the real value of this up to the individual shelling out the money.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2005
  15. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

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    well you are right and wrong.

    higher carbon content does NOT make for higher quality of steel. The steels commonly used to amke swords today are the higher medium carbon steels and low end of the high carbon steels. HIgher carbon contents makes the sword harder but more brittle. The homogenousity of the steel is more important.
    And most katana are not tempered. They are differntionally HARDENED.

    Other than that you are just saying the same things that have already been said.
     
  16. Skyanide

    Skyanide The Big Meanie Staff Member

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    Yes. Cast iron is also technically a "steel", but its carbon content is much higher than normal steels, hence its brittleness,
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2005
  17. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

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    Could you please exlain to me how cast iron having more carbon than a plain steel would also ahve more iron.
    That just doesnt make sense to me. If you have a plain steel, ie just iron and carbon alloyed together, and cast iron, again just iron and carbon, then if one alloy had more of something it would have less of the other subtance.
    in other words.
    cast iron are iron alloys containing at least 1.5% carbon while high carbon plain steel would have .7-.8% carbon. Therefore if cast iron has 1.5% carbon it has 100%-1.5%=98.5% iron and the plain steel would have 100%-.7%=99,3% iron plus or minus a few .001% becasue of trace impurites.
    This however does not aply to alloy steels, steels that conatins other elements in addition to iron and carbon.
     
  18. Skyanide

    Skyanide The Big Meanie Staff Member

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    Sorry, that was a typo that I just corrected, hence the confusion.

    Cast iron has a higher CARBON content than normal steel.

    That is why it is harder and more brittle.
     
  19. Skyanide

    Skyanide The Big Meanie Staff Member

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    As to your other questions regarding steel and cast iron, the major differentiation between steel and cast iron is the 1.5% carbon content.

    After that, the choice between steel vs. cast iron really has to do with what you are making. The advantage of cast iron is that it is a relatively simple (and cheap) way to make complex shapes. If you've ever had the opportunity to examine a cast iron engine block (I work for Ford Motor Company, I used to work in one of their cast iron foundries), you could see the complexity and imagine the labour needed to machine a block of steel into such a shape. It couldn't be done, with the water jacket, etc. Cast iron also, although it is brittle, has a high tensile strength (without alloying) and is resistant to deformation and stretching (kind of a redundant statement).
     
  20. Justice

    Justice New Member

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    http://www.oniforge.com/forging.html

    Here is a small little piece on the forging of a modern day katana. I am buying one of their katanas and I am very interested in how it comes out.
     
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