JT Hats
James grew up on an Ozarks farm where tools like axes and picks were still used in the daily routine and the blades of stockman's pocketknives served their original functions. Receiving his first pocketknife at age four he got it open by himself nearly a year later and spent his formative years wandering the woods with a succession of ever larger knives, a book of matches and a rifle.

A veteran of Vietnam, James also served in Alaska during a stint in the Army, receiving his first intensive culinary training by setting a record for extra KP at Ft. Richardson.

Settling in the Pacific Northwest after his discharge, James crewed on sailing yachts in local races, backpacked hundreds of miles of mountain trails in search of good trout fishing, and occasionally attended college.

His first serious job as a civilian resulted from answering a Seattle Post Intelligencer want ad requesting someone who could lift 120 pounds repeatedly and wasn't afraid of fire. James apprenticed to John Frazier -- the most knowledgeable traditional foundryman in North America at that time -- for the next six years.

Returning to the Ozarks James made his living by growing ginseng on a hand-terraced wooded hillside and selling handmade wood turnery, furniture, sculpture and architectural carvings. James harvested trees from his own land, processing logs into posts and beams and turnery billets with saws, axes, froes and planes. Since many tools he needed were no longer available, James built his own forge from a barbeque grill, a vacuum cleaner and a 55 gallon steel drum, found a chunk of railroad track for his first anvil, and taught himself blacksmithing -- creating his own knives and tools from scrap steel and sweat.

Changing economic pressures eventually forced James back to the restaurant industry in Branson, Missouri, and later to even more success as a maintenance engineer for one of Branson's largest condominium resorts. Finally escaping to Indiana, James now makes his living telling true stories as a freelance writer.



Nan Dao Southern Broadsword | Martial Arts Practice Weapons | Tiger Claw Sword

1 min read

Nan Dao Southern Broadsword The origin of the Nan Dao or Southern Broadsword is murky, with few historical examples of old weapons that actually match this pattern. The Nan Dao may have been designed for training rather than actual fighting, built in the pattern of the Nine Ring Broadsword or even simpler weapons of China’s peasant soldiers. Tiger Claw’s version strips down the design to essentials to lighten the weight for Wushu competition and forms practice. Wushu spring steel allows the straight blade to bend and return to shape, and the simple construction makes this Nan Dao Southern Broadsword a strong weapon for performance of fast chopping and slashing movements.

The cloth-wrapped handle conceals a solid steel bar which ends in a large steel ring pommel. Protected by an S-shaped steel handguard, the slender handle makes orientation of the blade uncertain. Since the sword isn’t intended for striking practice, that’s forgivable. This Nan Dao Broadsword evolved away from the details of practical weaponry to become a symbol of the real thing — well suited to forms and basic weapons handling practice.

The 26-inch tempered steel blade comes unsharpened, and for forms practice should stay that way. No steel sword is harmless, and a mistake with the Nan Dao can cause serious harm even when the edge is dull. Thirty-six inches overall, the broadsword comes with a black nylon carrying sheath but no scabbard. The soft-sided sheath fits to the weapon neatly but offers only marginal protection for the blade. Consider carrying the sheathed blade in a gym bag for safety reasons.

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JT Hats
James grew up on an Ozarks farm where tools like axes and picks were still used in the daily routine and the blades of stockman's pocketknives served their original functions. Receiving his first pocketknife at age four he got it open by himself nearly a year later and spent his formative years wandering the woods with a succession of ever larger knives, a book of matches and a rifle.

A veteran of Vietnam, James also served in Alaska during a stint in the Army, receiving his first intensive culinary training by setting a record for extra KP at Ft. Richardson.

Settling in the Pacific Northwest after his discharge, James crewed on sailing yachts in local races, backpacked hundreds of miles of mountain trails in search of good trout fishing, and occasionally attended college.

His first serious job as a civilian resulted from answering a Seattle Post Intelligencer want ad requesting someone who could lift 120 pounds repeatedly and wasn't afraid of fire. James apprenticed to John Frazier -- the most knowledgeable traditional foundryman in North America at that time -- for the next six years.

Returning to the Ozarks James made his living by growing ginseng on a hand-terraced wooded hillside and selling handmade wood turnery, furniture, sculpture and architectural carvings. James harvested trees from his own land, processing logs into posts and beams and turnery billets with saws, axes, froes and planes. Since many tools he needed were no longer available, James built his own forge from a barbeque grill, a vacuum cleaner and a 55 gallon steel drum, found a chunk of railroad track for his first anvil, and taught himself blacksmithing -- creating his own knives and tools from scrap steel and sweat.

Changing economic pressures eventually forced James back to the restaurant industry in Branson, Missouri, and later to even more success as a maintenance engineer for one of Branson's largest condominium resorts. Finally escaping to Indiana, James now makes his living telling true stories as a freelance writer.



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