Thursday 29 August 2013 at 12:09 Posted by Shadley Hax 0 Comments

After having tried for so long to understand why my cuts were happening too slowly, I worked on my body mechanics and realised that a lot of the force behind the cut is in the core. Engaging your core muscles properly means that you can free up your arms to simply guide the sword towards the target.

Of course then after a few cuts I wondered why I wasn't managing to hit the targets properly.
....sooo, I slowed down.

I watched the bottle drop and worked out I was undercutting it with the second cut. Once I'd taken the time to watch the bottle and see the sword move I simply relaxed and everything seems to work a lot better now.

Something to consider when practicing I think.

I while ago my main light cutter died a death. It was a pity but these things happen and so I set about saving up my pennies to replace it. In the end I decided to buy a so called 'Koto Katana' from a website called It was based in the UK so this looked to be a good choice being as the last experience I had with customs was not favourable. I'd like to point out at this point that isn't actually the company that produces these swords, they only supplied them until recently.

(photo from the manufacturers advert)

The original sword I had chosen wasn't available but after some chat with the person at the company's address he had selected one for me. I wasn't expecting anything special for what was 100 quid, just something that was sharp and produced decent audible feedback.

When I got the sword I gave it a good look over, starting at the tsuka which was wrapped in the way I had become accustomed to with factory made swords. It was a stretchy ito and it wasnt wrapped tightly enough. It moved when pushed with the finger and although it will last a while, I will probably end up having to lacquer it or something in order to get it to stay still. There were obviously no hishigami which was the main cause of the movement, and the same/rayskin panels were uneven in places and the wooden core shows in places. This is unfortunately part and parcel of most cheap production swords.

The menuki aren't the most premium looking and obviously golden painted. This is the sort of thing you expect though and so I didn't care.

The fuchi and kashira are plain. nothing to look at there but I honestly prefer a plain look to the overly tacky looking rubbish you sometimes get so along with the nice colour theme, this is a plus point.

Now, the whole thing is double pegged, however the pegs are mostly redundant being as the whole thing is rather sloppily and over zealously glued to the nakago. :/ In fact its coming out from between the fuchi and tsuka in some places and you can see it in the habaki. Not cool Koto. Not cool.

Moving on to the saya, it was tasteful enough, in fact it was a very pleasing red wine colour. Im a fan of dark reds and so I liked the saya.

The koiguchi of course was wood and not horn and I'm assuming the kurikata is wood too.
The shitodome on the kurikata were the same as the ones on the bottom of the kashira on the tsuka. They were the same golden colour as the menuki. *shrugs* aesthetics so far are what I would expect.

The sageo? pfft. I never use the sageo anyway so its not a problem that its cheap, too short and singed black at the ends.

The tsuba was actually rather pleasant to look at. That's my favourite part really. It serves a purpose and it looks nice enough without being garish.

Right, aesthetics aside, lets move onto the most important part, having a look at the sword from a practical point of view and assessing how it's likely to cut.

Unsheathing the sword at first glance the blade looks quite acceptable. Its got a nice amount of sori, not too much but enough to be useful and looks elegant. pretty really; but looking at the habaki I can see glue fastening it to the blade and to the seppa. Its not a good look and it doesn't fill me with confidence.

But still, there are parts that are going to be harder to fix.

Looking along the blade we can see the wirebrushed hamon and although I'm not a fan, this is a sword intended to cut up bottles/light targets and its function is more important than its form. Its also not the worst wirebrush I've seen.

The actual edge on the other hand seems rushed and on closer inspection I can see why. There's a secondary bevel. rather than one bevel from the shinogi along the hira to the ha, there is a secondary bevel like you would find on a pen knife. This was advertised as paper cutting sharp, its far from it and I'm not impressed.

There are also dings along the blade like its been roughly handled. There's nothing structurally dangerous but of course this is another thing Ill have to sort. The tip of the kissaki is also dinged which is a pity, the kissaki is one of the things I like about this blade with it being a little longer than usual in an o-kissaki style.

The bohi wasn't carved out symmetrically aright at the point where it meets the habaki. don't know why, but Im afraid I forgot to take a picture of this. I probably will do later.

I also noticed surface rust, actually within the bohi.

But... I dont want it to sound like I'm all bad news with this blade so Im gonna shortlist its good points.
  • Good curvature
  • O-kissaki
  • Correctly shaped tsuka as advertised
  • Tasteful/plain fittings
  • One of the better wirebrushed hamon Ive seen.
  • Sings nicely when hasuji is spot on (its very unforgiving) 
  • Good choice of colours.

Q: Would I recommend a koto katana again? 

A: No. I don't think so. I've heard some good things about them so maybe I just got a one off bad one that needs some work and if anyone else wants to confirm this, please do. The service I got from (who are the supplier, not the manufacturer) was good though once we'd established what was going on with my order and the troubles they were having with the imports. They did wait a week though before a follow up call revealed that they hadnt received an order from their supplier for a while.

Bottom line? Maybe next time I'll save up some more pennies or risk buying from abroad but for now, if it will cut bottles I'll use it for the bottle curriculum. Its got a nice weight to it, should be fun.

If you're reading and you don't know what the bottle curriculum is, shame on you! head over to and find out.

I hope this helped anyone who was looking into buying a koto katana but please remember, this is my humble opinion only. I''ve provided photos so you can make up your own damn minds ;)

Stay cutting, be safe peeps.

Sunday 25 August 2013 at 08:11 Posted by Shadley Hax 0 Comments

The sword I ordered a while back should be arriving sometime next week. It's scheduled for Tuesday but you know how it is, not everything goes according to plan. but hey, back to my point. I was wandering through my photos and realised that one of the things I miss about my last light cutter (since its unfortunate demise) was the grip.

Friday 23 August 2013 at 09:03 Posted by Shadley Hax 0 Comments

Even though a full knot looks pretty, for a sword that often gets used, a more practical compromise is needed.

These are simple to tie and dont look bad when the sword is at rest.

Monday 19 August 2013 at 09:49 Posted by Shadley Hax 0 Comments

So, this is a new challenge from FSC. An "Inazuma" pattern on 3 bottles. If you don't know what that is, its 3 cuts, all diagonal, 2 cuts in the same direction and the adjoining cut in the opposite, colloquially known as the 'Lightning cut'.

This for example is "Inazuma Giri", the opposite flow of cuts is called "Gyaku Inazuma Giri".

For a good reference for these sorts of things, start here

So yeah, 3 cuts, 3 bottles with this pattern. It looks evil hard but I spose it's something that will improve my technique regardless of whether or not I manage it. With my newer lighter sword coming any day soon, and my recent heavy training with a larger heavier sword, maybe this won't be as hard as I had imagined.

Saturday 17 August 2013 at 09:36 Posted by Shadley Hax 0 Comments

To replace the unokubi that I loved so dearly I've eventually managed to be able to order another, the Omori katana with Bo-Hi from I would call it a replacement but I don't think any sword will replace the one that broke for speed and agility any time soon.

As far as I can tell, "Omori" refers to the motif they are using for the koshirae, some form of catfish-like animal and a little googling tells me thats probably the case but I could be wrong.

It's an unknown 'high carbon steel', so Im guessing its the low end of the spectrum at 1045. One company told me it was 1060, the other said they didnt know. The fact they havent specified it means that its likely 1045; but having said that, theres nothing wrong with 1045 for light cutting and as always it comes down more to the heat treatment of the steel and the quality control of the company rather than anything else. It's better for an unknown sword to be lower in carbon content and to bend than to be higher and snap... of course its best if it does neither ;)

Until it arrives I'll not know the quality of it for sure but I will be doing a review on it so people know what the lower end of 'Koto Katana' is like. I havent seen any other reviews yet apart from the ones of the more expensive swords in the line so maybe this will enlighten people.

It's come to my attention that I haven't even mentioned the group to which I belong, the Freestyle Cutting group. Although I am a member, I do not officially represent the FSC in any capacity, I'm simply a practitioner, another learner on this slightly odd path.

Theres not a lot that can be said about us that cant instantly be gleaned from visiting one of the online resources.

Official page -
Facebook group -
Youtube channel -

All these places will give you the gist of what it is that we're doing but the best way to understand is to simply get involved. There are an ever increasing number of people doing what we're doing and as well as reading and watching, it goes without saying (even though Im saying it here anyway) that if you're still curious about anything, a straight question often gets a straight answer. Everyone is friendly and helpful.