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Japanese Swords

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See our complete line of Imperial Forge Swords here.


About Imperial Forge

Known for blades that, “want to cut,” Imperial Forge offers the modern martial artist swords that are a pleasure to wield while delivering in the dojo/cutting competitions. Crafted with traditional Japanese methods, blades are heat treated, providing a natural hamon and high quality finish on every sword.

Imperial Forge swords are hand crafted and intended for battle ready use, or “the way of the sword.” Blades in their Imperial Spring Steel Sword collection are hand forged from 1050 spring steel and individually heat treated, tempered, and polished by skilled craftsmen. Swords from their Imperial High Carbon Steel Collection are created using specially forged and tempered high carbon steel that exceeds competitors in regards to strength and cutting power. Finally, the Imperial Folded Sword collection uses specially forged and tempered, folded steel in a process that eliminates any imperfections in the makeup of the blade for maximum power and flexibility.

Keeping with Japanese traditions the Imperial Sword Collection is crafted using only traditional materials and fittings. The Tsuba (guard), Fuchi (collar), and Kashira (pommel) are expertly made and finely crafted from black iron. The Habaki (blade collar) is hand made out of polished brass and each tsuka (handle) is covered in ray skin and tightly wrapped in the traditional cross over style ito (braid) with green cord.

Imperial Forge prides itself on its folded steel, handmade process and therefore does not produce the sheer number of weapons as some of its competitors. However, for the modern martial artists that use their swords, the blades are worth the wait. Finely crafted with a focus on traditional Japanese forging techniques to serve the modern warrior, Imperial Forge offers cutting-edge quality with timeless tradition.


 "e;I have been involved in the Japanese Sword Arts for many years and have personal experience with most of the mass produced swords from Europe , Asia , and Japan . I have also had the pleasure of training with and cutting with Japanese hand forged ancient as well as modern Katanas . The Imperial Sword Line offers the modern martial artist a sword that not only "e;feels"e; good in the hand , but "e;delivers"e; both in the dojo and in the cutting circle . Fit and finish are excellent , with a blade that just "e;wants to cut"e; I recomend the Imperial Line of Swords to all my students and to all those of you interested in this truely timeless art ."e;

                                            -- Gary F. Hall, Kaicho, Canada Roshukai

Imperial Forge

Japanese swords have a rich history of use in battle as well as beautiful craftsmanship. As a modern sword-maker, Imperial Forge uses traditional Japanese methods to hand-forge each blade. The finished swords are battle-ready, worthy of use in the dojo (martial arts school) or a cutting competition. Keep reading for more information about a few types of swords, the techniques and materials used to make them, and their use in martial arts.


Company Close-Up

All great sword manufacturers aim to give their buyers both quality and performance in a blade. As a company, however, Imperial Forge does not produce the high number of swords as many of its competitors. This is due to the company’s traditional methods, that of hand-forging and hand-folding blades with an emphasis on artistry and craftsmanship. Full stock availability is never guaranteed, but prospective buyers can order or reserve a sword in advance.


While many other companies maintain a large stock of additional swords, knives, and other tools, Imperial Forge only makes three types of swords: katanawakizashi, and tanto. Their especial focus is crafting martial art grade katana swords, particularly for use in the martial arts kenjutsu and iaido. The company also sells full sets, comprised of all three blades, as well as floor stands for storing two or three swords.


Specialty Materials and Fittings

At the simplest level, swords have three basic components: the outer holder or scabbard, the handle, and the blade. In a good-quality sword, the tang of the blade extends beneath the handle. This helps keep it strong and durable, yet flexible. The blade itself has many components, including the tip (kissaki), the front edge (ha), the back (mune), and the hard (yakiba) and soft (ji) sections of the blade. Each is hand-forged and heat-treated, creating a temper line (hamon), or natural pattern, along the blade. The final step in the blade’s production is polish, to give each sword a high-quality finish.


Attention to detail, the process, and the materials used are all incredibly important aspects of Japanese sword making. For their Imperial Sword Collection, Imperial Forge uses traditional Japanese fittings and materials. Black iron is used for the collar (fuchi) and pommel (kashira), which hold the ever-important guard (tsuba) in place. The blade collar (habaki) is made of polished brass.


Perhaps the most traditional of the materials used is black ray for covering the handle, or tsuka, of the sword. This is then wrapped in green cord, using the historic and now famous crossover style, or ito.


Forged Verus Folded Steel

Each sword made by Imperial Forge is ready for use, but how do you know whether to choose forged or folded steel? Modern alloy steel, used in buildings, ships, and cars, includes materials such as aluminum, nickel, manganese, or chrominum. Traditional steel, however, and the steel which is still used for sword making, is made only from the reaction of iron and carbon. The pure steel for sword blades created during this process is called tamahagane in Japanese. Historically, bladesmiths combined a huge amount of iron and charcoal into a large clay furnace, or tatara. The iron and carbon mixture is not allowed to melt, although it will reach temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees Farenheit.


Today, traditional sword makers can buy pure tamahagane from steel-makers in Japan, although larger commercial sellers may rely on factory-produced and machine-folded steel. If you are investing in a truly handcrafted sword, however, then you will avoid being taken in by a lower-end, machine-made and laminated blade. Many modern sword manufacturers are somewhere in between: they make or purchase steel that was traditionally made with machine assistance.


Traditional tamahagane comes in two forms that are then combined into a single sword: hard, high-carbon steel as well as soft, low-carbon steel. The hard steel is used to create a sharp edge while the soft steel gives the blade flexibility and absorbs shock. After being heat-treated, tempered, and polished, the resulting swords will be strong and ready for action. Imperial Forge stands behind their blades whether forged or folded, touting each sword it sells as being battle-ready, not just meant for decoration and display.


If your price range is your main consideration, you may choose to stick with a hand-forged sword. Folded steel swords are more expensive but are also higher quality. The folding process, where bladesmiths alternate layers created by welding, forging and re-welding the steel, serves to remove impurities while evenly distributing carbon along the blade. As its imperfections removed, the blade becomes stronger and more flexible. Steel can be machine-rolled, but many collectors and martial artists prefer to support the authentic process of hand folding.


Imperial Forge is one company that offers both hand-forged and hand-folded blades. The hand-forged katana is made of 1050 spring steel while the hand-folded katana is comprised of 1060 high carbon steel and folded fourteen times. Both swords are considered artisan products and provide excellent cutting power and strength.


Types of Swords for Sale

Imperial Forge prides itself on maintaining a small but well-crafted stock. Resisting the temptation to mass produce cheap blades, knives, or movie replica swords, Imperial Forge produces only the katana, wakizashi, and tanto swords.


1. Katana

The katana is the most popular of all Japanese swords, thanks to their heavy use by the samurai. A two-handed sword, the katana has a distinct curved blade with sleek styling and has existed since the 15th century, if not much earlier. Imperial Forge sells katanas with a 28” blade and 11 and 3/8” handle.


2. Wakizashi

The wakizashi, a side-arm or side-inserted sword, was the typical companion blade to a samurai’s katana. As a pair, the swords together are known as daisho. Wakizashi swords are typically smaller than the katana, made for faster and easier wielding against an enemy. Blades closer to 12” are known as ko-wakizashi, with blades closer to 25” in length are called o-wakizashi. Imperial Forge crafts the longer swords, with a 21 and 1/8” blade and 6 and 1/2” handle.


3. Tanto

The tanto (tantō) is an even shorter sword and is often considered to be more of a knife or dagger due to its extremely straight blade. Used primarily for stabbing, the tanto sword was sometimes carried as a katana companion rather than the longer wakizashi. The tanto often became a work of art in itself, as many artisans adjusted the length, width, decorations, and styling. The tanto daggers crafted by Imperial Forge are a bit longer in length than traditional blades, with a 13 and 1/4” blade and 6” handle.


Swords in Martial Arts

As a manufacturer, Imperial Forge caters to those studying martial arts, particularly kenjutsu and iaido. These two are closely related and are also tied to other martial arts such as battojutsu and kendo.


Historically, kenjutsu is a broad category that refers to the overall art and science of the sword. In any form of kenjutsu, importance is placed on the method and technique used to wield a sword. In modern martial arts, those studying kenjutsu will focus on training in pairs, with combat drills against a partner.  Using specific techniques to face an opponent in practice is called kata, but freestyle combat is also explored.


Kendo is a modern form of kenjutsu, but it means “the way of the sword” and emphasizes mental strength, the human character, and the pursuit of oneself in addition to partner sword training. Typically, wooden (bokken) or bamboo (shinai) swords are used in addition to protective armor. Kendo is a form of sparring most similar to Western fencing.


Iaido is another modern Japanese martial art, and it references spiritual principles and personal development much like kendo. In the iaido dojo, however, focus is directed toward developing form and technique on an individual basis rather than through partner sparring. Forms competitions and championships are common, as each participant uses fluid, controlled movements to remove their sword, strike an opponent, clean the blade of blood, and return the sword to its scabbard. Wooden (bokken), blunt-edges (iaito) and sharp-edges (shinken) swords are all used for training in addition to the katana.


Finally, battojutsu simultaneously takes and rejects principles from both kenjutsu and iaido. Like kenjutsu, martial arts students use combative techniques such as distance and timing to improve their overall swordsmanship. Battojutsu, or the act of drawing out the sword, extends the art of iaido (drawing and cutting) by incorporating multiple cutting moves before replacing the sword. Battojutsu does not, however, emphasize spiritual and inner principles as iaido does.


Thanks to the many forms of Japanese martial arts available, those interested in joining a dojo or cutting or form competition have more options than ever. The swords forged and folded specifically for use in martial arts classes are designed for strength and power as well as practitioner comfort and ease of use, versus blades intended for use as decoration or in a wall display. Still, traditional makers and buyers alike consider their swords to be works of art in both composition and aesthetics.