Commissioned by Anton Lichauco
Designed by A. Cejunior
Made by Joe Walters
Rendered by Eric Litton

READ REVIEW ON FINISHED SWORDS

 

CUSTOMER'S COMMENTS

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 and more?

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 admire.

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 Innovation 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 materials.

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.

Anton Lichauco
December 1, 2002

 
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