We come to the last of this series about the ‘parts of the sword’, and I hope it has helped you the student, to understand the meanings behind the names of the sword parts that we use regularly in the classes.But i hope also that it has shared the passion we have as instructors for the sword, and the privilege we feel in being able to use this once terrible weapon now purely as an instrument of creativity, and as a path to peace.
I didn’t wish to undertake a description of the forging process of a Katana here in this series about the sword parts, although that is such an amazing story; of a sword smith thrusting steel again and again into the fire, folding and beating it so many times that it made thousands of layers of purified steel and carbon! That may have to be described in detail at another time! Although I recommend to all students of sword that they investigate further the magical art of the swordmaker.
But two important names that go along with a finished forged blade are the ‘Hi’, which is the cutting edge of the sword and the ‘Mune’, which is the profile or back edge of the Katana.
The brilliance of this weapon was due to the mastery of those early sword makers, who developed techniques and skills in the tempering process that allowed them to manufacture a blade that had an extremely hard cutting edge called the; ‘Hi’, that could take a fine razor like killing edge polished upon it, and yet had a softer back edge called the ‘Mune’, that allowed the blade to absorb the impact shock of cutting and blocking upon it.
This tempering process along with the lamination process during forging made this a truly remarkable weapon not just in Japan, but unparalleled in the whole of the world at that time.
So let this be the last lesson we as swordsmen take from our blades at this moment, to think upon the duality of the hard and soft nature of the sword that rests in our hands, a duality that makes this weapon so strong, yet so versatile.
This should show us that we may need to combine in our life, a cutting edge of wisdom, focus and action, yet also the tempering of the soft resilience of compassion, patience and love.
One day upon the battlefield of life,
You may owe your life not to the cutting edge of action,
But to the soft edge of patience.
Knowing when to move and when not move,
May be found deep in the practice of sword.