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Brian

A word about amateur polishing

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This was just posted by Andrew Ickeringill ( @Andrew Ickeringill ) on Facebook, and I thought it was worth posting here, and pinning for the future.
Andrew is a FULLY trained traditional polisher and one of the most qualified to make these statements. Before bringing up the subject on this forum, and risking a storm of fire, please read this and take it to heart.
 

Amateur sword polishers… I know you probably won’t listen, but I’ll try anyway.
Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more rubbish from amateur polishers on the internet, it’s not a new problem, but with social media being what it is, amateurs have been given a platform where they can prosper. It’s beyond frustrating, it’s infuriating, and it's working directly against what I'm striving for, the preservation of Nihonto.
I’ve had to correct the damage caused by amateur polishers many times, and the damage is always severe. Correcting these hack-jobs takes a lot of work, and it means removing more steel than would’ve otherwise been necessary if the blade had previously gone to a traditionally-trained togishi.
A traditional apprenticeship in togi takes years to complete for a reason, THERE’S A LOT TO LEARN! It means giving up everything else to spend your time in servitude to Nihonto. My apprenticeship was 12 hours a day / 7 days a week / for over 6 years, and even my spare time (what little I had) was usually spent studying nihonto. But if you want to be a togishi, this is the way it must be, you have to go all in.
Through arrogance or ignorance or both, amateur polishers have completely forgone this necessary training. Some of them may have attended seminars in Japan, or visited a togishi for a few days… but this obviously doesn’t equate to traditional training. And for many amateurs, the bulk of their training consists of reading books and watching youtube videos of swords being ruined without a clue. Unfortunately, these videos receive plenty of misguided encouragement from those who don’t know any better… “wow, so shiny!”.
Amateurs will often argue… “this sword isn’t worth sending to a pro, should we just leave it to rust?”… but how would THEY know? They haven’t been trained in kantei, they have no idea if a sword is worth a professional restoration or not. A cold chill passes up my spine every time I think about this, how many great swords have been ruined by amateurs? I know I’ve already seen a few in my time.
If you’re an amateur polisher reading this, let me give you a tip… this job is not for you. This isn’t something that should be attempted by anyone but a traditionally trained togishi, and if you haven’t realised this fact by now, then you need to develop more respect for Nihonto and the craftsmen who have worked their butts off to complete the proper training. Please stop scraping the life away from these works of art, you’re doing far more damage than repair… this job is not for you!
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This should be permanently linked in the Nihonto Info section as its own category and also under care as well.

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Funny, I was trying to form my thoughts into a decent post suggesting someone (with the knowledge to be coherent about the subject) put just such a message up and pin it. :thumbsup:

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I do think another quote from highly respected member of the NMB;-) is extremely appropriate to repost here...

 

"I'm too tired to even go into this again. Every guy is like a stuck record:
1- I polish my own stuff

2- We tell you we don't tolerate amateur polishing here
3- You tell us how you are different, how you know what you are doing and how you polish stuff no-one else wants to
4- We point out that what you think is good, removes metal, ruins lines, opens or closes grain and does no-one any favours

5- You come back indignantly and tell us how your 5 years of welding or plumbing gives you experience

6- We ask what you know about kantei, and are you able to kantei before you polish, in order to bring out what should be shown

7- You admit you cannot kantei, and fall back on the "I'm saving ruined swords" plea

8- We point out that you are not qualified to tell what is ruined or not, and that after your work, the swords now need another polish

9- You leave in a huff, refusing to take the advice first given and just shut up about amateur polishing.

This will be the 20th time? 30th time? Gets monotonous. Decide if you want to just agree to drop the subject, or if you want to go for the ban.  - Brian"

 

 

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Is this still about my thread? Guys, if so, get over it, it’s long been locked and I have no intention to mention the subject publicly ever again...:dunno:

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No JP. I don't even remember your thread. It's just general advice, since Andrew just posted the above on FB 2 days ago.

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12 hours ago, paulb said:

Don't worry JP this wasn't related to your post

 

2 hours ago, Brian said:

No JP. I don't even remember your thread. It's just general advice, since Andrew just posted the above on FB 2 days ago.


Thanks guys, makes me feel better. There I was thinking, man! I really triggered a s**t storm involuntarily! :laughing:

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Of course you can! Rasp it against a concrete wall once or twice on each side and it’s as good as new! :laughing:

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I bought all this equipment to polish old blades, now you tell me it's not appropriate? You sure know how to rain on a guys parade! 

(This should get me kicked off the forum for a while!).  

a2.jpg

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5 hours ago, 16k said:

Of course you can! Rasp it against a concrete wall once or twice on each side and it’s as good as new! :laughing:

 

I was referring to this (sorry but this video is only in french):  :laughing:

 

 

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Maybe an utopic idea but would it be possible to offer some guidance to those interested in seeking the way of polishing? Who to contact in Japan (or internationally), what basic requirements you must meet even to consider this etc.?

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7 hours ago, Jussi Ekholm said:

Maybe an utopic idea but would it be possible to offer some guidance to those interested in seeking the way of polishing? Who to contact in Japan (or internationally), what basic requirements you must meet even to consider this etc.?

 

The most basic requirement is to put in the necessary effort yourself.

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For sure Andrew and I totally agree!

Unfortunately, we record a faster and faster growing gap between the demand and the availability of “resources”. This applies equally to sword as well as armor restoration and will become a real task, already in the near future....

 

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See...now you spoiled my plans, I even got all dressed up for it.

Mark

real-viking-sharpening-his-sword-stone-ready-fight-real-viking-sharpening-his-sword-stone-138713151.jpg

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This is unfortunately nothing new. Many fields are plagued with people who often have the best of intentions but no intent of expending any effort. The world is crawling with experts having completed ardourous six week letter courses or video classes. Often in some old field not taught in "modern" learning institutions like martial arts, meditation or old crafts like sword polishing. Our ancestors took their skills very seriously and many reached levels in their arts beyond anything seen in the industrialized world since. The only good defense against growing ignorance is knowledge, the internet is a good tool for it but it often feels like showeling s**t against the tide. Cest la vie.

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