In March it was the Dragon Boar Killing Spear that was featured as Forge Directs Blade of the Month. And in April, it is another perennial favorite – and one of the most affordable entry level Master Smith money can buy – the Classic Peony Jian. (click any of the images for a larger, high resolution picture of the sword)
Some Background on Classic DanJian (one handed Jian)
Weight wise, most antique Jian like the one the Classic Peony is based on weighed between 1.76lbs to 2.42lbs (800 to 1100 grams) though some like this antique (3,500GBP) had slightly shorter blades and weighed a mere 732grams (1.61lbs) though this was relatively rare. Indeed, many people tend to think that functional Jian should be as light as the ultra flexible Wushu Training Swords such as shown in the video below.
This idea that antique Jian are super lightweight is compounded by the fact that many antique blades are weighed WITHOUT the fittings. But to get the complete picture most later period Jian that surviving martial arts such as Taiji,Wudang, Shaolin, etc still use – the so called Danjian 单劍 –weigh and balance about the same as a Viking sword, that is to say, approximately 2-3lbs and balanced at 5.5″ with fittings.
Indeed, it even had similar dimensions with an blade around 30″ long and a 6″ long handle – though that is of course where all similarities end as the Viking sword has a broad, flat cutting blade while the Jian has a raised central ridge to reinforce the thrusting point (though was no slouch in the cutting department either).
The ideal point of balance for a Jian with a 30″ does vary, some suggest they should be balanced at the guard, two fingers width from the guard, at the pommel (impossible) or even up to almost half the way up the blade. But again, the Viking sword analogy holds true. with most antiques balanced around 5.5″ from the hand guard.
The reason we bring all this up is because there really is a lot of misinformation out there about what the correct or ideal weight and balance of a functional Jian should be (for example at the other end of the spectrum this post on quora.com someone states with authority Jian should weigh ‘between 3 to 7lbs’!!).
Our Classic Peony
The Classic Peony Jian is based on an antique Qing Dynasty design with a beautifully folded blade typical of the period.
The fittings of the Classic Peony are dark brass with polished highlights detailing the Peony theme throughout (once exclusively the domain of the Emperor, the Peony came to represent good fortune, wealth, honor and success) and it comes complete with a matching black ebony wood scabbard.
Blade wise, it is approx 29.5″ from guard to tip with a slightly longer 7.1″ Ebony wood handle to accommodate those with larger hands.
Weighing in at 2.86lbs (1.3kg) it is on the heavier side for a Jian, though still within the ideal weight of 2-3lbs, and is balanced at 3.93″ from the guard, resulting in a Jian that is forceful and strong, yet balanced close enough to the guard to allow easy transition from one movement to the next.
With a relatively common blade style requiring only expert folding technique, the blades are simple for the Master Smith to make – taking much less time and with a lower error rate than the more challenging blades in the collection (Wind Steel, Differential Hardening, Pattern welding, etc). Once forged and shaped, the blades are completed by the smiths team of workers – thus the rather shockingly low price point of $599.99 SHIPPED.
But as Forge Direct Blade of the Month, you can pick it up with a whopping 25% discount – down to only $449.99 all month long!
If you are a practitioner of Taiji or a traditional Chinese martial art and want a blade based on an antique that handles close to the how the original should (and much closer than the vast majority of replicas out there) THIS would have to be your best bet.
We held off on adding these awesome swords simply because until the recent product category expansion, there was no proper ‘home’ for them.
But with an appropriate place open for them in the training gear section, the time has come to add what we feel are the BEST sub $200 iaito around hands down..
First off, the blades are made from extremely tough 65mn Spring Steel – and the hamon that you see is the real thing, not some ground on cosmetic thing. Just like the Ryujin Custom Katana, the blades are differentially hardened with a natural hamon.
Secondly, like the Custom Katana, they are available with or without bo-hi (fuller) and weigh almost exactly the same as the live blade version (approx 2.3lbs for the bo-hi sword and 2.5lbs for the no-hi version, with some minor variances based on the fittings selected).
Thirdly, most iaito made from intentionally weak alloys have a sharpened tip – but this is quite dangerous on a spring steel blade, so the tips have been rebated for safety, making this one of the ONLY iaito around that can be used for hard steel on steel contact training (under the supervision of a qualified teacher. Even though they are unsharpened, these are still quite deadly if used as a weapon)..
And then there are the custom options – which are a serious bonus. The choices are EXACTLY the same as for the live blades. And if you choose the same tsuba, they will balance and handle almost identically (though it is recommended for safety reasons to have one point of difference, such as a red tsuka for the live blade and blue for training sword, slightly different tsuba, saya or something that keeps them in the same theme but makes them easily distinguishable from one another at a glance.
Need we say more? Just $189.99 with no extra hidden charges.
Kingston Arms takes it’s collaboration with sword industry legend Angus Trim to a new level with not one but two new swords made to Gus’s exacting specifications and bearing his esteemed name.
The first is a truly awesome looking triple fullered Cutlass (sharp) that while not based on any historical piece, is what you might call ‘historically plausible’ and most certainly, a great addition to any collectors personal arsenal.
Not only that, but it also comes complete with a BEAUTIFUL embossed and stitched leather scabbard that is, to the best of my knowledge, unlike any other scabbard out there on a sword at this price point.
MSRP is $489 but we sell them as close to wholesale as possible:
The second sword is a re-creation of a Gus Trim classic, the I-Beam Longsword trainer.
Not only does it look the part, but it solves the two major issues facing training swords generally – if the blade is too thin, its dangerous and the edges get chewed up too quickly. But if it is too thick, the blade is too heavy to use realistically.
So by using an extra wide fuller, Gus solved BOTH problems – and brought to market for the first time an affordable and readily available version of his innovative design.
Probably our biggest post with the most new products and largest discounts EVER – with a few rather ominously appropriate for our times..
You might be forgiven from the lack of updates that not much has been happening at SBG. And no, it is not because of the Coronavirus – truth is we have been extremely busy behind the scenes preparing for not one but several major product launches and expansions..
And as the warehouses are still open and the couriers still delivering, not to mention how timely some of the new releases are (in an ominous kind of way) and come hell or high water, we aren’t going to let this thing stop us just quite yet..
‘Homeless’ Oddball products..
We already have a few ‘odd ball’ items here and there that did not fit into any existing category in our store. After all, our specialty is and will always be sharpened, battle ready swords.
And then we have a range of ‘short swords’ that come very close to blurring the lines between a sword and a knife. Take for example the extremely popular Ryujin Tak-Wak or the Wing Chun Butterfly Sword and you can see that it would not be so strange that, when presented with multiple opportunities to expand similar offerings at the same time, we might well go for it..
But as many of you may well already know, my friend Sam Sung (pictured left with yours truly) from Ryujin Swords is not just a word maker, but specializes in tactical and folding knifes with some truly stunning lines under the brand names S-TEC, Proleria and DEFCON.
So you could say the expansion idea was sparked when I saw his latest knife from DEFCON for 2020 aptly named ‘the Katana’ – because for me, it was love at first sight..
The blade is a 64 layer Damascus pattern made from 10Cr15CoMov steel and everything about it, from the Tanto tip to the itomaki style 6AL4V Titanium handle, was truly a fitting tribute to the Japanese Katana that bears its namesake.
Quite classy at $165 (but marked down to $115) – I also just HAD to offer this cool looking Kozuka style ball bearing action folder at the cheap end of the knife spectrum, just $25 from one of their other brands, S-TEC.
Click the link or the image to see what is on offer in this final closeout sale. But the expansion doesn’t just begin and end with knives, daggers and tanto (though these sections will be expanding their offerings in the coming days and weeks ahead)..
When we do something at SBG, we don’t do it by halves..
Until around 2 years ago (from memory here, so could be longer) we made the decision to stop carrying any and all unsharpened swords and training gear. But we had to re-evaluate everything when our friends at Darksword Armory went and outdid themselves by adding a range of high quality, fully functional wooden shields to their store.. Something I have personally wanted to be able to offer to the community for years now, but was never able to find anything decently made that didn’t cost a fortune.
Here is what they look like – basically 16 layer laminated wood with handle, strap and a satin print design on the front for $350. Check them out by clicking the image below:
Of course, the problem here is a lot like when you change the curtains in your home. Suddenly, the sofa doesn’t match anymore, so you change the sofa. Then the coffee table, and before you know it – you have a ton of new stuff..
Well, that is what happened when we added the shields – and so we decided to offer what we consider to be the best blunt trainers currently on the market by Kingston Arms – from 9260 single handed European swords to replicas of authentic training Longswords known as Federschwert (pictured below)..
But like changing the sofa, the coffee table was the re-addition of two synthetic training swords by Rawlings/the Red Dragon Armory… You know the ones.. (after all, we already had a Polypropelene Bokken)
And since we were going down THAT road, I spotted a few more items from the Catalogs by Sam Sung and found a few real little gems for super safe and super FUN sword fighting for the more casual enthusiast in yet another line he offers called ‘Sparkfoam’..
I mean, for $50, how can you go wrong with THIS? Lol..
A set of two latex, flexible fiberglass ‘boffers’ with a Deadpool style back mounting and plastic saya? And their medieval swords aren’t bad too – I mean how much fun would it be to go full power sparring with one of these bad boys?
There can be only one..
More to come..
Right now we are really only just scratching the surface of what we can bring to the table for sword related products like these. As always, we won’t be adding every single thing that we CAN – only products that we stand behind and believe are worth the purchase price..
In truth, we will be rejecting far more items than we will add. But there are some additional tactical knives out there, more very cool and affordable fun boffers by Sparkfoam, and more categories we can add for all manner of historical weaponry – as noted, we already have some spears (Japanese and Chinese) – so why not some axes, halberds, flails – you get the picture..
It’s not a race and we aren’t in a rush. Our goal is simply to be able to offer everything a sword enthusiast could ever want – and introduce new products that they otherwise may never have even seen or heard about (for example, that stunning folded steel ‘Katana’ knife by DEFCON..
LINKS TO NEW SECTIONS
Hope you find something new and exciting! It really is not so much a revolutionary change, just finding better ‘homes’ for existing odd ball items that did not fit any existing category, and expanding the categories with the kind of stuff WE would be happy to buy ourselves. Nothing more, and nothing less.
STOP THE PRESS – Last Minute Additions by A.P.O.C…
As a final piece of serendipity, just as we were about to make this announcement, the acclaimed A.P.O.C. series of blades just got a whole lot bigger.. And they added, yup – you guessed it, some tactical Knives to their line up – so if we had not taken steps to make a place for knives, we may have had to anyway..!
Here is the first two knives – both available for just $74.99 at the store.
Then there is another blade that blurs the line between shortsword and knife – a tactical version of twin Wing Chun Butterfly Swords (yes, they are sold as a set).
And who knows exactly how to classify this monstrosity..
Even the humble Kukri blurs the line between knife and sword..
But one that clearly is 100% all sword is one of my favorites, a tactical version of a Yataghan!
How awesome is all that! And especially as nothing here is over $129 – talk about stopping the press!
Oh yeah, and before we go..
Wait, there is more!
At the same time as all of this, we are also having a major scratch and dent sale on, including some premium blades with cosmetic flaws marked down with thousands of dollars of savings on offer..
Since scratch and dent items go so fast, there isn’t much point listing each one – just check out the entire lot here:
So there you have it – the reason why we have not posted for several weeks. It sure has been a lot of a hard work, but so much fun to be able to offer all these amazing new items to you all. Hope you find something new and something of interest!
P.S. A QUICK NOTE ON COVID-19 AND SHIPPING
While some major sword stores have actually closed down due to the virus – our suppliers, warehouses and the various couriers and the postal services we use are still running (though are, as you may have noticed, delivery services are rather busy of late). As such, the first major impact of the virus is that shipping may take up to twice as long as usual.
The second concern is of course, being exposed to the virus when receiving your delivery. It’s Avoid direct contact with drivers (i.e. practice ‘social distancing’) and to be 100% safe, handle incoming shipments with gloves and let cardboard parcels sit for 24 hours before opening if you want to be super cautious. See the article by Fastcompany.com How to Safely Receive Packages and Deliveries During the Coronavirus for best handling practices, just to be on the safe side..
United Cutlery is generally NOT a company most serious sword enthusiasts think of when they are seeking a decent piece of steel. The vast majority of their offerings are stainless steel fantasy pieces, though that said – very well made, nice looking ‘sword like objects’ at quite reasonable prices.
However, all that changed dramatically late last year with a significant expansion in their HONSHU brand name, a series of tough Tactical blades made to surprisingly good tolerances and specifications.
We are offering three swords from the series, the futuristic looking Broadsword, the Boshin Katana and the double edged Boshin Katana – all very well made and beautifully tempered hard wearing 1060 carbon steel blades – one of the best choices for a tough, durable ‘take on anything’ kind of blade.
And don’t forget – you also get FREE SHIPPING in the USA!
The value for money factor on these swords is off the charts, each is made from ultra modern materials using advanced construction techniques for a consistently good, well made product at a price almost ANYONE can afford.
Check out the specs and all the info on each of the three models here: