Samurai Sword (Katana 刀)
New students to karate start with many preconceptions, some false, about what to expect from their training. Those who persist and try hard will discover that the activity does help them get fit, stay healthy and supple. Later on after they have practiced some freestyle sparring they learn that they don’t always win the fight. At this point they have to learn to go away and hone their skills. In time they will start to appreciate that there are many levels in karate and just as you think you’ve achieved a particular level, you go up and fight someone different who is better than you at some skill and you have to start learning new skills again. This process is repeated many times over the years.
For some students who start young and are highly motivated and a quite keen and fit, things may go well for many years and they may reach high grades quite quickly and as far as fighting and defence goes they may be very competent students. Then the day comes that they pick up an injury or due to age become infirm in some way. They find they’re not as fast and nimble as they once were or they can no longer perform those fancy high flying reverse round house back kicks anymore. This is when they have to sit down again and re-evaluate how to overcome their new difficulty. Life is a constant learning process and we become stronger each time we overcome a new challenge.
There are several lengthy stages to making a samurai sword which again I would like to equate to the making of a successful karate-ka.
The first stage is finding and selecting the rare special iron sand that goes into the making of the sword called Satetsu. Along with this you need to find an experienced forge master who has the necessary skills & knowledge need to make this special type of steel. The final ingredient is a dozen tons of good grade charcoal to melt the iron sand. This reminds me of the new karate-ka entering the dojo, he is the raw material, nothing more than an interest in the art and motivation to study something mysterious and new.
It will now take the master forge master and half a dozen other skilled hard working helpers, three whole days and nights to combine the right amount of materials in the forge to make the large steel lump called Tamahageny. (the clay walled forge is called a Tatara). Here the new karate-ka after a few months has learned a few basic techniques.
page last updated on Thursday 16 September 2010