One of my students sent me this link about a week ago. For those of you who don`t have patience to read entire page, I will explain in short. After few serious attacks made with, mostly, cheap imitations of katana (japanese, samurai sword), British government decided to ban selling, making, hiring or importing samurai swords in England and Wales. As far as I know this is the first law of that kind that exists in Europe, maybe in entire world.
Before I proceed, I want to make one thing clear. I do not approve any kind of attacks made with katana; also, misusing that beautiful but very dangerous weapon is something I will never alow to anyone of my students; I am strongly against it.
On the other hand, there is an entire community of people who use katana (and some other japanese and chinese blades) in their everyday activity – through practicing of kendo, iaido, battodo and probably a lot of chinese martial arts systems that I am not familiar with. Any serious practitioner of iaido or battodo, knows or has experienced the difficulty of obtaining a good sword. This was never easy. To buy a good blade, usually it is necesarry to go to Japan and to try to find a good producer or seller which is also a kind of art. The cheapest blade that I have found costs about 1500 USD, but a proper, solid one is above 5000 USD. If you count that airplane ticket from Europe costs about 1200 EUR and the costs of stay in Japan cannot be less than 500 EUR for a week, you may have the impression of how many people may buy one for themself. So, the most of us must rely on a swords that can be bought over the Internet and these are not the best ones for practice but are cheap enough…
And now what? With this law I suppose some of realy good practitioners will not be able to buy a sword for themselves because if anyone tries to import them for selling will be arrested; if practitioners try to do that by themselves, they will face the same penalty. I understand the concern of British government and police but some serious changes to that law must be done and a list of exemptions must be widened. Also, I don`t know if the firearms importing and selling is forbiden in the same way. It is interesting that in Japan they don`t have a lot of attacks made with katana. But, producing and selling of swords in Japan are regulated by a strong laws and everyone who has live blade (not aluminium alloy ones) must have a permit for it – like if they have firearm, although providing permission for a sword is not as complicated. And this is something I support.
I am practicing martial arts for more than 20 years now (kendo, iaido, battodo, aikido) and we, who teach others the way of using sword have a great part of responsibility. I have seen a lot of people who intended to practice martial arts because they just wanted to look dangerous to their friends and people around – a lot of them never succeded to obtain master degree. Practicing of such specific art requires a lot of dedication and not only during trainings. As I can see that, someone serious must change his perspective over the people and events. But this is a topic for some other post 🙂
ps – this is friends only post; I consider my martial arts practicing a personal matter, very important to me;