Hello to everyone,
After what now seems like ages, here’s a milestone in the pursuit of an
idea. Here is also a testament to knowledge of history and martial arts,
creativity and innovation, technical feasibility and even more important –
the patience, understanding, sensitivity and friendship that Antonio, Joe
and Eric have given me.
This particular story began in September or a little over three months
ago. Waiting then for a daisho (a beautiful Cicada Forge set that Rick
Barrett polished and mounted), I started to wonder about sword collecting.
Was this all about shininess and sharpness, historical accuracy, and the
mixing and matching of blade styles with saya and tsuka-ito colors, tsuba
and fuchi-gashira designs? Beyond historical accuracy and its ability to
cut through straw mats or water bottles, can’t a modern sword be all that
I don’t mean to diminish the work of many other designers and sword
smiths. Rick’s work, for one, I continue to admire and I am waiting for a
forge folded katana from him. The guys I meet at SFI (too many to
mention), the smiths, polishers, and koshirae and saya makers – they have
too have really innovative and creative products, all of which I sincerely
But as a bonsai enthusiast, beyond a healthy tree, its size, balance,
symmetry and all the other technical stuff, I spend literally years
training a tree -- carving, cutting, grinding, twisting, bending and
wiring (yes, it is a cruel hobby) -- to capture the image of age,
destruction, re-growth and renewal, strength and endurance. Why
can’t a sword say similar things?
So probably because of too many Friday night beers in my youth, work
fatigue, too many sword movies, I decided that the next project should
have a theme. Nothing fancy: two swords; good and evil, light and
darkness, a sword of a sage or philosopher to protect and defend and
another, of a brute or barbarian used to
plunder and pillage.
Encouraged by Antonio’s pictures of his Textured Tanto and later, his
Dhakris and Joe’s post on
and Design - I approached them to
discuss this project. In my introductory letter to Antonio, I mentioned
that I was looking for:
… "Two swords while contrary to each other, when
seen side-by-side give the feeling of “completeness”, that these swords
are “partners”, that these katanas are equal parts of a set. Seen
separately, each sword will be impressive in its own right. But placed
together, a whole new dimension of contradiction vs. complementation
become apparent in the design and production…”
Immediately, these gentlemen latched on to the idea (not even a snicker or
a giggle when I first presented the concept) and the work began.
And that is about the extent of my contribution to this project.
Everything else is about Antonio, Joe and Eric.
What started as a two-katana project evolved to two chisa-gatana to the
final rendition of these chokuto. These gentlemen
shared with me so many ideas on martial arts applications, length, width,
weight, balance and all other factors that make a fine weapon. As
important as these “pre-requisites” for a good sword, we
talked about historical perspectives, design space, colors, textures, and
From hundreds of emails, to web site links and digital photos, to hand
drawn faxes, to colors and textures that Eric painstakingly and patiently
applied, I saw a simple concept move rapidly from imagination to reality –
or at least to the point when Joe’s headaches will really begin.
This process has been a great show of historical and martial arts
expertise, creativity and imagination, technical know-how and all the
stuff that make these guys the professionals that they are. And the
results of all these qualities are here in these renditions.
However, these pictures do not show is something equally, if not of
greater value to me. It’s been a time of learning and understanding –
about sword and swordsmanship, sword history, sword qualities and
applications. Moving to the present – it’s been about modern day
sword making, metallurgy and chemistry, about
Photoshop, and email servers.
It also has been about Antonio and Joe explaining things and assuring me
that gargoyles, dragons, wings and fins, neon green paracord, micarta, and
other unfounded fears will never appear in these swords.
It’s also been a time of cross-cultural communication, of smiley and
frowning faces, East and West meanings, age gaps
(with Eric in his late teens, Joe in his mid-20s and Antonio and I… ah
well, in slightly different age brackets), and again of many other stuff
that we had shared.
Lastly, it’s been a time of friendship - a bunch of guys separated by
oceans and time zones, working through the Net, sharing ideas and opinions
to get to a common goal.
And with this friendship, to Antonio, Joe and Eric – though we have miles
to go before the final swords, it’s been lots of FUN. Thanks a lot.
December 1, 2002