The following is a review of the Ronin Katana #37 as well as the Ronin Tanto #2 both purchased from Ronin Katana. I will state plainly that Katana #37 was bought from Ronin Katana’s annual “Scratch and Dent Sale” however given the overall quality for the price I am compelled to write a positive review. The Tanto #2 I bought in new condition. As usual; like anyone not Japanese or raised practicing Kendo Iaido; this is just a brief and humble report on two products that I am very happy with.
As you might gather from its name the sale is one of discounted blades which are functional for cutting but have been discounted due to scratches or minor dents because of previous testing. Which is similar to buying a ‘floor model’ in a retail store. However I specifically selected this blade for its numerology namely because 37 is very appropriate number for its purpose and so I see it as lucky that I got it for a discount. -The four hearts on the Tsuba also hold serendipitous #significance. I won’t go into details but it was almost like this blade was personally designed for me! I had been considering buying it for well over a year so when I saw it on discount bought straight away. The sword was normally listed at 825.00$ and was discounted to 450.00$ (american) and given its quality and characteristics it was a steal of deal.
My first impression of Katana #37 is how much work is involved in their construction. The sword is certainly a production model but I am still impressed by its overall composition. The fittings are solid and the sword feels like it wants to cut. The handle is almost perfectly symmetrical with its saya, with only an extremely slight asymmetry however this is likely due to actual shape of the Buffalo horn “koiguchi” which because of its organic composition is selected for its unique form and to a degree subtle variance should be expected. All in all this is an excellent fit. The first step I took to customization was to remove the brass menuki from the ito. I do not want to falsely represent Japanese culture and so I wanted a functional sword with as little of its classical/cultural significance as possible. In time I will add a personalized 925 Ankh and a “Return to Tiffany’s” tag underneath intertwined through the wrap. If the sword hold up against hard targets, broomsticks and prolonged cutting of soft targets I plan on making it a Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed sword. Once properly tested I will also give it an appropriate spell.
The only damage with this product is on the saya’s kurikata; the knob that holds the sageo (sheath bindings); this had been separated from the saya, something purely cosmetic and a very easy fix even for me. Again I had planned on customizing as much of the sword as I could so to me this is only an opportunity to understand its construction better. I have noted that people reviewing production Katana’s frequently complain that the blade is covered in a “white substance”; this is likely a wax applied to the inside of the saya which acts as a “dry lubricant” and aids the blade when being drawn and sheathed. Upon inspection of the actual blade I could find no observable flaws, the blade is perfectly straight, mirror polished and able to slice paper on contact. It is likely that the blade was discounted because its hada (part of the hamon) is somewhat understated but personally this doesn’t bother me at all because it has still obviously been deferentially tempered and not superficially etched in with acid. I have noted that the appearance of a dramatic and bold hamon/hada line is one of the main ways that Katana’s are marketed to “westerners”, -a genuine hamon being the easiest way to visually determine if the blade has been differentially tempered. This traditional forging method was one of the reasons why I selected a Ronin blade but one must remember that it is almost certain that not a single modern sword will ever see a real battle field… or even make use of its differential strength. This sword coupled with my skills is more than enough to honorably kill an opponent; even if it is only a production model. I have purchased this historical replica as part of my studies in Alchemy, Swordsmanship and interest in Japanese/Asian culture. When I hold the sword I don’t imagine indiscriminately slicing off peoples limbs; I imagine myself having fun slicing non-living targets. However the sword is a good manifestation tool because it serves the function of a tangible and material channel to direct ones negativity so even if one did occasionally imagine killing an enemy by sword this is still far more noble than doing so with an automatic weapon. It’s the art of Bushido which I find interesting not the strife of war or violence as a practice. That said I have realized that the world is an evil place and its’ nice to know that if I had to, I could send someone to hell with this sword.
The Tanto #2 was also purchased with a spell in mind and I also removed its stock menuki. This Tanto is tempered 9260 spring steel and so requires slightly more maintenance on its surface than the Katana. The blade came with a smart looking bronze three tsunami theme design on both its fuchi as well as its Kashira… *See Here* for an explanation of Katana swords parts.. .Which also holds personal significance for its purpose. The edge is very sharp and able to shave hair. All and all I am very happy with both of these blades.
My interest in swords is actually a religious one. I consider myself “Fair-Sikh” and that means that carrying a “sword”/kirpan is part of my religious conviction. In my everyday life I only carry a small modern knife however I do have an immense and innate respect for the Alchemy of iron and steel. This is not to lend myself any sense of false credibility it is only to state that my interest in this subject is borne of a life-long interest and the product of a genuine spiritual pursuit. Still; in contrast to this I find it a bit silly to listen to sword-nuts who nit-pick about the smallest minutia of their sword. (These types are almost exclusively westerners talking about Japanese themed steel) I do understand that Japanese culture itself is rather obsessive of about its own pursuit of aesthetic perfection but to hear a westerner complain about a half millimetre asymmetry on the mitsukado of a production model sword is to me a bit laughable. This level of fixation reminds me of the movie Porky’s (1981) wherein its character Pee Wee is obsessively recording the length of his penis each morning.
Modern sword culture is now only a diminished reflection of the ideals and values that spawned it. In a classical sense sword culture is more about survivalism and defending one’s own honor than it is about wanton destruction of the gun culture portrayed in the movies. It’s an obvious fact that laws in themselves have never prevented anyone from committing a crime and indeed laws are broken all the time. There are however lines that should not be crossed and if you are prepared to defend your own interests than you are less likely to become a victim. Blades are weapons of honor and practically incapable of the nihilistic mass slaughter that automatic/semi-automatic weapons represent. The world in which guns and bombs are readily available is always destined to end and is a direct product of the apocalypse culture. In short guns are for little men with bad ideas.
Carrying a blade is more about being committed to face the unknown than it is for that of violence. Owning a functional sword indicates that one is committed to an ideal of chivalry and not necessarily one of violence. I am therefor the proud owner of many personalized edged-weapons and I feel good about doing so.
In closing my only real issue with is more to do with Japanese swords in general and not necessarily this product. The Japanese saya in particular is very shiny and appears as a very high quality luxury item… something meant to be pampered. The more modern military saya are nominally better but not by much. I would far prefer something slightly more utilitarian that doesn’t hold finger prints dust ect. Again this has nothing to do with the product as I bought it expecting a classic Japanese saya thought I doubt I can design anything better so in that sense it is an empty criticism.