Sword Testing Criteria

This forum is for posting Chinese Swordsmanship product test results conducted by Center Director, Scott M. Rodell. Any manufacturer may submit a product for testing.

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Scott M. Rodell
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Sword Testing Criteria

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:10 am

Sword Testing Criteria

All sword evaluations will be personally executed by Scott M. Rodell.

All product tests will be performed 'out of the box', that is, each will be tested as is, as it arrived, it will in no way be enhanced or fine tuned before or during testing.



Objective: Compare swords of contemporary manufacture with Ming & Qing era examples of the same or similar form for their usefulness to martial artists in form & test cutting practice.



Secondary Objective: Evaluate the historical accuracy of the sword's blade & fittings in comparison to known historical examples.



Testing Methodology:



Solo Basic Cuts & Form Practice Test- This test evaluates the swords balance & overall handling & is carried out by repetitions of various basic cuts without a target & solo forms.



Structural Integrity Test- Performed on solid wood logs, this test is design to verify the sword's blade & hilt are strong enough to be used for rigorous test cutting. This test is performed by cutting into dead wood with light blows slowly increasing the strength of the blow until reaching full power. If a sword does fail this test by bending, breaking, or the handle splitting etc, the testing will halt.



Hard Cutting Test- This test is for evaluating the swords edge & is performed on live bamboo 1" to 1 1/2" in diameter. Bamboo was chosen for this test because it is a commonly used test cutting medium that is widely available. By employing such a commonly used medium as a standard for this test, other swordsman will be able to easily relate to the results.



Historical Design Authenticity- Each sword will also be evaluated in faithfulness to period Chinese arms in respect to how true it is in decorative motif employed, style of the fittings, materials used, etc. This evaluation will be conducted by comparing each sword with both period examples & arms in period art work.



Rating- Based on the test preformed, each sword will be ranked from poor to excellent in each category or overall.



What I'd Like to See- These final notes will be ideas to improve a product. They might range from suggestions for more traditional designs for fittings, to better materials, change in the point for balance, etc. These suggestions should not be taken as criticism, but as ideas for improvement.



In order to keep this Forum easy to reference, no posts aside from those of the moderator will be accepted at this time.

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Some Notes on the Testing Criteria

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Sun Dec 11, 2005 12:29 pm

Some Notes on the Testing Criteria



The types of tests chosen & the nature of the testing conducted is based upon both my experience in Chinese Historical Swordsmanship & upon consultation & advice of sword smiths, who put their own creations through rigorous testing. I should remind all, that swords are being tested for their utility in contemporary practice of Chinese Historical Swordsmanship, not for performance wushu, or martial sports. This means swords are not only compared to Ming & Qing dynasty examples on hand, but also under the conditions sword faced during period warfare. Pizza boxes & plastic pop bottles are commonly used as targets for test cutting today, but as they were absent from the historical battlefield, cutting such targets is not relevant here, regardless of thieir usefulness to swordsmen using them for cutting practice today. Swords carried to the Chinese battlefield faced rigorous conditions. They had to cut into or even through armor, were slammed into steel helmets, cut into the legs & bodies of horses, through hard wood pole arm shafts & more, in short, they would have had to stand up to very demanding hard cutting as well as being able to cut soft targets, such as cloth, leather & flesh well. Taking these conditions into consideration, dead standing trees & bamboo are logical, convenient test targets.



Swords used for the practice of Historical Swordsmanship of any kind, should be tested as if one's life depended on that sword. Swords are, after all, weapons of war designed for life or death combat, any sword should be expected to stand up the most demanding of tests. Readers should be clear about the difference between martial arts like Chinese Swordsmanship & martial sports like Kendo, swordplay with foam padded weapons & sport fencing. Please keep in mind that this is a matter of clarity not a judgment of worth.



Image

Rodell cutting a tatami mat wrapped around a 2" bamboo stalk with an upward liao cut.

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Full Disclosure

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Sat Aug 19, 2006 7:48 am

I believe it is well know that my company, Seven Stars Trading (http://www.sevenstarstrading.com/), has long been specializing in antique Chinese arms. With the growth of Chinese historical swordsmanship we had long been considering expanding our business to include modern swords for training. After long consideration & product evaluation, we decided on a company & recently became Huanuo Sword's Sole US Representative. The reviews of Huanuo products on this forum were conducted before negotiations bewteen our two companies began.



I will continue to vigorously test swordsmanship related products, including swords, & report the results here. It is my personal belief that competition is good for the consumer as if forces manufactures to improve their products. In this case, I also believe it is good for the art, for if we do not have training tools easily available, the art will not be able to expand & survive.

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