I was always a big fan of martial arts as I was growing up but more of an armchair fan than anything I suppose. I have always loved Seven Samurai and any other type of martial arts movies up to and including stuff with Chuck Norris and some of the other more recent stars like Jackie Chan. I even incorporated Oriental elements into role playing games I was involved in from the late 70’s up until about ten years ago. Even our guest bathroom is decorated in an Oriental motif.

Anyway, although my fascination is much more laid-back, my son took a much more direct approach. From the time he was six or seven he was very involved in martial arts. He took classes for several years, eventually distinguishing himself as a second degree black belt in Choi Kwan Do. It was interesting in that during boot camp most of the guys that had taken any martial arts prior to joining to service were asked to lay off a bit and not use any of their training. I guess it’s just not really possible when working with all of those guys to keep them seperated and perhaps develop what they already know into something else.

I thought that I had some pictures online of the Marine when he was 11 or 12 in his uniform but I can’t seem to lay my hands on any currently. Oh well, just means I need to start scanning all the old photos like I have been wanting to for quite some time.

My fascination with Oriental culture and martial arts doesn’t actually stop at the TV for me. I like all sorts of Japanese weapons and armor as well. I would love to get a hold of a Samurai sword like this one.

samurai_sword

This is a Tachi Katana, traditionally forged and folded. It’s got a bigger curve than the katana and was generally used from horseback. The blade itself has a mirror polish finish that’s a beauty to look at. Most of the time a family crest is on the laquered saya . Swordmaking in the Orient was and remains an exceptionally arduous task and every sword holds it’s own personality unlike most of the European swords we are familiar with. One of the biggest differences is the hardening process. After the blade is forged and finished in it’s final basic shape it’s coated in a mixture of water, clay and ash along with whatever special ingredients the sword smith decides to use.

They apply the clay mixture over the surface of the sword, thcker along the spine. It acts as sort of an insulating during the cooling process, and the thicker part of the spine cools more slowly. After that they apply thin strips of clay over the surface of the blade. They also provide insulation during the quenching process and form small sections of softer material in the hardened edge.  It gives the blade the ability to prevent cracks in it under hard use and high pressure.

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