So, it finally has been confirmed, the Home Office will ban “imitation” samurai swords in England and Wales, and I expect the rest of the UK will soon follow suit.
First of all, most students of the martial arts hate the “samurai sword” name, so let’s call them Japanese swords. I understand that attacks with these weapons are very high profile, and although in the past I wrote in support of the sale of these weapons by Battle Orders, I am becoming uncomfortable of seeing them on sale in almost every gift shop in every town, often upside down or back-to-front. Having said that, in the main shopping area in Barcelona, every other shop sells them. It’s a shame no-one can legitimately appreciate even these cheap swords as a work of art.
My appreciation for swords is now a bit more refined I suppose, and I prefer the zen-like minimalism of real Japanese swords, and my current training sword reflects that, as does the new one on its way, but where will the dividing line be cast?
“Real” swords, shinken forged under license with appropriate paperwork and signed tangs cost thousands of pounds, and are both well outside the price range of beginning Iaido students, but are also far too dangerous to train with since they are razor sharp. The “iaito” most Iaido students train with are, by very definition, imitation swords, made of non-steel alloys and either fully blunt or “semi-sharp” (not filed flat, nor polished to a razor sharp edge), and cannot be sharpened. These are around £300, will they be banned? If so it will destroy Iaido.
And what about my new sword, still on its way, which is in the middle ground, just over £1200, made of unfolded steel, sharp but not signed and licensed. Will I now need to buy a real shinken to be able to train?