Today people own swords for a number of different reasons. Some are collected for their high artistic value and sophisticated means of construction. Some are purchased just because they are antiques and will be displayed in the home and others because they are also extremely well crafted yet still usable for training purposes.
In the past, especially during the sword fighting era celebrated in modern movies and early films, a sword was needed for defence of family and home. In some cases people earned a living by working as bodyguards or as professional soldiers, depending on both the craftsmanship of their sword and their own skills in order to survive and prosper in truly dangerous times. As time has passed, ownership of a sword or similar edged weapon is no longer a necessity with which your well being may depend on but rather a celebration of an ancient art-form.
Much of history has been decided by warfare, so modern day swords can represent a specific culture or tradition that has developed over time. In some cases a sword has been created to celebrate the history specific to a country, a particular lineage, or some have even been created in honour of a family name.
Some of the blades we create at Enlightenment Swords are in celebration of weapons used throughout Chinese national history. The Kun Wu Jian, for example, dates from the Chou dynasty (1050-256 BC) and is thought to be one of the best swords in Chinese history. According to legend, this jian could cut through jade as if it were no more than mud.
When buying a sword the most important thing to consider is the type of blade you desire and the craftsmanship needed to create that sword. True craftsmen in the metallurgy process can bring out amazing details in steel that has been folded numerous times by hand and resulting in a beautifully detailed blade. The same level of craftsmanship can result in stunning temper lines where a hardened edge is more pronounced and a truly razor sharp edge can be achieved. The craftsman at Enlightenment Swords have researched and perfected these traditional methods in order to create not only beautiful swords but also swords that meet the needs of modern times and modern owners.
There is common misunderstanding that a sword created by the more difficult and demanding methods will produce a sword with a harder blade. As different methods for constructing swords were prominent at different times, the above idea is not always true. For example, at one point in history the most difficult blade to make was a blade with a higher tin content on the edge than in the centre, as technology and metallurgy developed craftsmen learned how to make and utilise steel in creation of blades and the practice of using bronze was set aside.
Also at one point, steel needed to be folded and beaten numerous times to remove impurities and homogenize the steel. Today, due to the progression of modern metallurgy, steel with a more pure content is more accessible from the beginning of the creation process. Since the technology and quality of materials has improved over this time, the need to extensively fold or beat the impurities out of the metal is not always necessary. Most hand folding today is done for purely aesthetic reasons.
At Enlightenment Swords our products are all hand-forged in celebration of the rich traditions handed down by the masters of old. You will find our swords are each a unique piece of high quality craftsmanship. Some modern manufacturers produce hundreds of swords by taking advantage of modern milling and machine stamping techniques, we do not. Each sword we produce has been crafted by hand, with expert attention being paid to the metallurgy, folding, quenching, shaping, and hardening required to bring out the best of every type of sword made. This personal attention to detail, adherence to traditional methods, and truly skilled craftsmanship renders each and every blade unique, so no other sword made will have the exact same qualities as yours. You can be comfortable in the knowledge that your sword is one of a kind.
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Recommendations for Collectors
For the collector that desires a truly beautiful addition to their collection, we recommend the Hand Forge Folded style of blade. The term Waterflow has also been known to called a ‘Damascus’ blade. Different patterns and grains can be achieved in the blade by using different folding methods to control the appearance. This type of blade demonstrates the highest level of craftsmanship as the water-like pattern that is visible is the result of a complete understanding of the nature of steel and the techniques needed to bring out its inner beauty. Each Waterflow blade created by us has been hand folded by a master craftsman to provide you with a one of a kind blade for your collection.
In celebration of the unique individual beauty of these blades, Enlightenment Swords also utilises the techniques of ‘lost-wax’ moulding when creating the fittings for the hilt and scabbard that accompany these works of art.
For the collector wishing to add another one of a kind blade to their private collections, we recommend the inserted blade style. This style represents a particular era of Chinese craftsmanship. An inserted blade possesses the beauty of an exposed high carbon edge with a wavy pattern, known as a temper line, between it and the lower-medium carbon portion of the blade. Such temper lines are unique and have long been considered the ‘signature’ of each individual craftsman. At Enlightenment Swords we have learned the techniques required to create a hand made example of this style of blade.
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Recommendations for Martial Artists
At Enlightenment Swords you won’t find fancy business men, you will find dedicated martial artists and sword enthusiasts who can appreciate the term “affordable quality”. We know what it is like to have spent some hard earned money on an inexpensive ‘machined’ sword. We know the feeling of frustration you get when after only a few vigorous sessions your “sword” rattles in the hilt and has a bent tip after you have bent a bit too low and struck the floor. After having enough of these experiences we looked for and found some of the best craftsmen and martial artists alive today in order to create the best quality training swords on the market today.
Most swords used today in the practise of the martial arts include wooden “wasters” for sparring, light handling steel swords used in routines and form competitions, live blades used for training, and finally those meticulously hardened and sharpened blades that are used for serious cutting practise.
For those serious about cutting practise we recommend our line of specially hardened blades. Constant cutting practise will require an obstinate cutting edge not easily dulled or nicked. Such blades are not as sophisticated nor as beautiful as a Waterflow or Inserted blade in their construction. These blades are created with a single goal in mind, to cut and to cut repeatedly and well.
This type of blade gives it owner a truly long lasting edge and an incredibly hard blade. Their strength does not come without compromise, as these blades are much more difficult to make. More information about the method and difficulty in creating these types of blades can be found on our Specially Hardened page.
We also offer a range of high quality ‘live’ blades intended for the martial artist involved in training and/or forms competition. Our ranges of Carbon Steel blades, while not as expensive as their collectable counterparts, are still created by hand. Our blades intended for forms and training are solidly built and are intended to provide the weight and balance needed when you are seeking to perfect your art through repeated movement and dedicated training.
Therefore, one must decide carefully when selecting the right sword.
Will the sword be a gift, or become part of a collection?
Is the owner a martial artist?
Will the martial artist cut with it, or just practise forms?
At Enlightenment Swords we both collect, practise, and cut with our swords and it is important to us that you choose the right sword for your needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or requests for advice. We pride ourselves on providing the best possible products and information to our customers and look forward to hearing from you.
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