If you’re considering the purchase of this sword, be aware that it’s part of a training tradition and not intended for combat. This is a well-made training sword, and does cost more than a bokken, or wooden training sword. Actually a lot more — enough that many people will think they ought to get the real thing.
The Iaito sword is the real thing, but its purpose is the practice of drawing the sword. In Japanese sword fighting, the first movement was often the last movement of the fight, so a lot of emphasis was placed on learning it properly. In American terms, it was the gunslinger’s “quick draw.” Unless you’re the first and you’re accurate, the rest hardly matters. The Iaito was designed for that quick draw practice, and the Hanwei Forge version by Paul Chen makes that quality training sword available to serious students today.
The blade of the CAS Hanwei Gorin Iaito comes in four lengths, from 26 to 29 inches. A 10-3/4-inch handle allows a two-handed grip and a powerful swing that’s beyond the ability of the 400 stainless steel tempered blade to absorb, if you use it for striking. At one pound 15 ounces, it’s a very lightweight blade intended for the repetition of movements and not actually for chopping or slicing targets. Iaito swords traditionally are not even sharpened, and this alloy steel was not chosen to hold an edge. Hanwei’s Iaito features a bo-hi, or lateral groove, which makes the blade sing as it passes through the air but doesn’t contribute to strength. The hamon — a tempering mark along the blade’s edge — is etched and doesn’t signify true edge tempering. This is a good-looking, well-balanced training sword. In the gunslinger sense, it isn’t loaded and wasn’t intended to be. If you’re looking for a combat quality sword, Hanwei makes those, too.