Samurai Swords and UK Law

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Loz
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Samurai Swords and UK Law

Postby Loz » Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:46 pm

We've recieved a good deal of questions on samurai sword law over the last few months and people seem a little surprised when we are not able to supply them with a simple black/white reply, right now samurai sword law is a very misty grey and here's why;

The last 4 months have seen a clamp down by customs on people/businesses importing samurai swords and I'd like to share where our position and it would be interesting to hear your views, right now our current samurai swords are the last we'll be having for a while as we'd rather see someone else in the dock fighting this battle.

As you are no doubt aware the amendment to the ban that allows the sale of handforged blades to collectors is “according to traditional methods of making swords by hand”

Currently a good friend of ours has a shipment under scrutiny with the police suggesting that the swords are not traditionally handmade, this decison has been based on the expert testomony of a person who has described the oldest tradtional method of producing a samurai sword from start to finish, namely taking a billet and folding this by hand, laminating and then clay tempering. So, as the handforged swords coming over do not show any blade folds (hada) or a genine clay temper line they cannot be tradtionally handforged.

Now, if the law stated that swords need to be made using traditional methods AND MATERIALS, they would at least have a genuine point.

But the law does not state this, in fact it does not even state that the swords need to be forged using japanese or samurai techniques so a simpler forging process used to create traditional european swords could be used to create samurai swords just as easily and comply with the law.

Most of the cheaper swords we sell are entirely forged by hand using the Maru (monosteel) traditional process. They are still made using the traditional forging and production process, simply minus a couple of the steps which modern materials allow us to negate. The blades are shaped by hand, just as you imagine on an anvil, the blades are heat treated by quenching in water and the simulated temper added by wet/dry stones (again by hand), these are age old processes not involving any machinery or modern techniques. The blades are not folded as modern high carbon steel allows us to skip the need to fold to spread carbon content and remove impurities, the clay tempering (differential tempering) is another process we are able to skip as we are content with a single rockwell hardness through the sword.

So the swords are thus created using only 'traditional methods of making swords by hand'

This would be our argument in court and when coupled with the fact the ban was always intended to focus on removing cheap ornamental swords. The production techniques of those ornamental swords and our functional swords are a world apart. Ornamental swords have the blades cut using a template from sheets of steel, no forging, no human involved.

If we are only going to allow only japanese swords made using the tamahagne process it would destroy sword collecting for everyone but the super rich.

These are just a few arguments I came eup with earlier today to defend our position, we'd love to hear your views and any arguments of your own that would help us cement our position.

I'd also add that our chinese sword manufactuers (several forges), who have been producing swords and passing down knowledge for generations also agree that the swords certainly comply with the letter of the law and we, along with every sword retailer with years of experience read the amendmendment in the law, drew the same conclusion and started selling the handforged swords. If the amendment was not meant to cover these swords, the wording is fundamentally flawed as everyone in this industry and many experts all read it and decided these swords comply without a shadow of a doubt.

Finally, after an informative email from the home office (and in direct contradiction to a telephone call I had with them in July last year), we now know what the government were trying to achieve with the amendment we will only be importing swords which meet the full tamahagne forging process, prices will start at around £240, we could spend a fortune going to court and winning the battle for these swords but as soon as we did, the law would be changed so it would be a poor investment.
http://www.Blades-UK.com for your Swords

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Hatamoto
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Re: Samurai Swords and UK Law

Postby Hatamoto » Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:45 pm

Apologies if this isn't strictly relevant but have you had any issues with curved blades that aren't katana?
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Loz
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Re: Samurai Swords and UK Law

Postby Loz » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:15 am

The forging process on european curved blades is a good deal simpler than japanese blades so we don't envisage any problems with their import, we want to research the production methods behind each product to make sure if we are ever in the dock that we can testify accurately the sword meets the definition set out in law, we've been so busy with the samurai that we haven't got around to this yet.
http://www.Blades-UK.com for your Swords

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the blade master
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Re: Samurai Swords and UK Law

Postby the blade master » Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:51 pm

hi loz
looks like we're on the merry goround again eh
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