Saturday, March 2, 2013

Authenticity vs Copy

The Philippines is well known for it's incredible variety of blade designs. Each tribal area has not just one, but a selection, of blades that are particular to their region.

What I personally find fascinating about each and every design, is that they all have reasons why they look like they do. And finding out what that is, is part of the fun and the overall learning experience.

One can buy many different reproduction blades nowadays, based on real weapons and old, historical, designs. Some are made by people that know what these swords do and how they should feel in motion, others by people that clearly do not.

Some also have more time and effort put into their fit and finish by craftspeople, others are mass produced as an approximation to the real thing that merely need to look similar but not perform.

Needless to say, a blade designed and made by an expert who knows about swords and their purpose, will feel better in the hand than a blade that looks almost identical, but made by someone that was just copying a picture of one.

At the other end of the spectrum you have the fantasy blades inspired by book and movies, it seems mostly designed by people looking towards being novel for the sake of it, rather than from any thoughts of practicality.

I personally dislike both poorly made reproductions, and any kind of ill conceived fantasy blade.

There is another side to this too of course.

There are people that can create functional swords that handle well, out of any piece of metal. Who design and fabricate weapons from whatever they have at hand, out of curiosity, or a gap that they think needs fixing. Or as a way to discover new ideas in sword play.

I have no problem with either the folks that reproduce accurate and well made historical designs, or that fabricate from their own minds eye ..... as long as they know WHY they are doing what they are doing, can EXPLAIN to me the purpose of every curve, recurve, indent, dull and sharp edge, the shape of the handle and the balance of the blade, AND create something that feels good in the hand, moves well, and does the job as described.

A sword is a tool, it's FOR something. It's pretty easy to know if it works ... All you have to do is test it, and the ideas that it is meant to hold. Then compare it to something that you know already does the job, and see if it is a worthy addition to the tool box, or just derivative and pointless. It could also be something that is close .... but needs exploring further.

Here is a training blade made by Sonny from something completely different. Even though it is a trainer, it is perfectly balanced, and feels great in the hand. The basic design contains traditional elements from the blades of The Visayan Islands, but the curves are particular to this sword and dictate how it moves best. It works great and definitely stays in the toolbox.

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