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If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut.
July 23, 2006 10:23 PM   Subscribe

'In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife. But this method doesn't work with a tomato". Finally, a blade worthy of Hattori Hanzo, so sharp it can slice a bullet in two.
posted by jonson (55 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Wise Japanese elder: 1. Fat, unshaven American gun-nut slob: 0.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:26 PM on July 23, 2006


You know, for a bullet hitting a sword and splitting video, this was kind of a letdown.

Is it the blade's sharpness or the fact that its stationary and the bullet has no choice but to split or shatter the blade? Actually, the blade shattering would have been a cooler video.
posted by fenriq at 10:38 PM on July 23, 2006


I showed this to a friend a couple of months ago and he was all "well, a bullet's lead and the sword is steel, so what's the big deal? of course the bullet will come off second best", and I wanted to tell him he was wrong and the sword really is amazing, but I just don't have the physics know-how (or whatever) to refute him. Is he right about this?
posted by bunglin jones at 10:38 PM on July 23, 2006


youtube-filter
posted by subaruwrx at 10:48 PM on July 23, 2006


Wait, there is more ....
posted by caddis at 10:50 PM on July 23, 2006


I saw this linked/discussed somewhere else recently and a metallurgist popped in to say, yes, the blade is so much harder than the bullet that the results are not surprising. And the Japanese have a long tradition of creating incredibly hard steel sword blades.
posted by persona non grata at 10:52 PM on July 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


But you can also shot a tomato! Or the cook. Or the Samurai.
posted by homodigitalis at 11:00 PM on July 23, 2006


It's true. Unless you're talking about armor piercing bullets, most are lead or lead with a thin jacket. Imagine instead, the lead bullet being held in place on a table while the hardened steel sword comes down on it at supersonic speed. Same physics, same outcome.
posted by drpynchon at 11:00 PM on July 23, 2006


It makes me cringe to see that done to a blade that obviously required a lot of hard work and craftsmanship to make. Why? Whyyyy? No, no, swords are not meant for shooting bullets at, they are meant for other swords or in this modern age of the hand gonne, for looking at and appreciating as artwork.

Shows you that the blade certainly is made such that an ordinary bullet can't shatter it, but at the same time makes me wonder if there's anyone out there who'd seriously try reproducing this as a means of self defense. I dunno, what with them banana fire kids now adays.

Can I complain about nihontophilia now? No?

I've read a bit about this particular video on various sword forums, and they seem to agree with bunglin jones' friend and persona non grata: the lead bullet is softer than tempered steel, especially since the bullet is heated upon exit from the gun. It is by this that the bullet is "split in twain." The amazement comes from the mystification of the Japanese style sword and it's abilities/properties.

Nihonto vs Machine gun.

Oh no! Ouch!
posted by Mister Cheese at 11:07 PM on July 23, 2006


Damn, no one is answering at th phone number.
posted by bigmusic at 11:17 PM on July 23, 2006


So, do you work for Ginsu or what?
posted by bob sarabia at 11:19 PM on July 23, 2006


The Power of the Sword is really best demonstrated with one of those scenes where the sword dude takes a screaming, leaping swing at another sword dude who then stands there looking confused for a second or two before his body slides apart, real squishy-like, right down the middle, followed by a noisy, delayed geyser of blood.

Is there a video of that?
posted by dgaicun at 11:21 PM on July 23, 2006


Wow, I thought that was cool jonson.

The word, Ginsu, is not Japanese.

Nihontophile.

Brief History of the Samurai and their swords.

Beautiful Mokume Gane steel with its typical wood grain pattern, used to forge katana blades.
posted by nickyskye at 11:22 PM on July 23, 2006 [2 favorites]


Also: Bullet Split in 2 by Sword and Bullet split by SOG knife. There was also an old National Geographic FBI story showing a bullet being split against an everyday hand axe. The sheer momentum of an unjacketed lead bullet against a hardened steel edge would easily split it (the edge probably wouldn't have to be all that sharp, either.)

Once upon a time in Japan, swords were tested^ on the bodies of live prisoners.
posted by cenoxo at 11:29 PM on July 23, 2006


Is there a video of that?

No, but this is pretty close I think.
posted by bob sarabia at 11:34 PM on July 23, 2006


Nickyskye's second mokume link is pretty damn cool. If ever I get hitched, I hope I at least get a mokume ring as consolation.
posted by bcveen at 11:37 PM on July 23, 2006


That's a pretty strong sword, but I'm not convinced it could cut god.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:50 PM on July 23, 2006


bcveen, Some Mokume ring choices for you. More.
posted by nickyskye at 12:04 AM on July 24, 2006


Instead of lead bullets, I wonder what would happen to DU projectiles.

Would it be possible to enhance a sword with DU?
posted by symbioid at 12:22 AM on July 24, 2006


Idiots. You're supposed to block and parry with the flat, not the edge.
posted by loquacious at 12:23 AM on July 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


Wiggy japanese hair shears
posted by hortense at 12:31 AM on July 24, 2006


bob sarabia writes "Is there a video of that?

"No, but this is pretty close I think."



What the hell did he do? Looks like he's banging on the table, but no obvious source of injury....
posted by IronLizard at 12:44 AM on July 24, 2006


He hit it on the table and blade came loose, flipped around, and stuck him in the gut. Probably just a flesh wound.
posted by bob sarabia at 12:53 AM on July 24, 2006


That's a pretty strong sword, but I'm not convinced it could cut god.


is god harder or softer than lead? i mean, i'm sure (s)he's ... whichever one is better, but, um... which one is that? i'm not up on my theology lately. last i heard on the subject was concrete blonde, and they said "god is a bullet."

have mercy on us, everyone...
posted by ab3 at 1:04 AM on July 24, 2006


...the mystification of the Japanese style sword and it's abilities/properties.

Ah, now there's a big gnarly subject! The fetishization of things Japanese and of, well, just Japanese-ness itself is something that both Japanese and non-Japanese gleefully engage in all the time. It can get a little tiresome, though.

That said, I like seeing tomatoes squished as much as the next guy (plus, living outside the US for many years I'm a bit natsukashii for cheesy American TV ads), so thanks for the post, Jonson!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:18 AM on July 24, 2006


I posted it to my personal blog a few hours ago, with the same hattori hanzo line. Oh well, that's what I deserve for being obvious.

Yes. we know it's lead vs steel, momentum, bla bla, but it's still very cool, far more than "kitchen knife splitting bullet" or "sharp rock splitting bullet".

PS: Japanese swords can cut everything, even GWB defense budget.

//ta-dum..
//thanks, thanks...
posted by cardoso at 1:30 AM on July 24, 2006


Once upon a time in Japan, swords were tested^ on the bodies of live prisoners.

And not so long ago in China.

No, I will not repair your damned caret.
posted by fleacircus at 1:42 AM on July 24, 2006


As a physicist, this isn't at all surprising. I'll bet that if you get a butter knife and repeat the experiment you'll get the same results.
posted by alby at 1:56 AM on July 24, 2006


IT'S THE KNIFE OF THE 90'S!!!!!
posted by beerbajay at 2:05 AM on July 24, 2006


The near-mythical japanese sword is, after all, only a hardened and sharpened bar of steel. It's unsurprising that lead bullets would be cut like that.

Also, yes, it's obvious it can cut wood and other things like that, so please spare us videos of cutting brush and branches, pepsi cans or water jugs. Really. The only point in cutting anything would be to trying to match the conditions under which the sword would be used, which is on human flesh.

So, uh, either tatami covers or beach mats, rolled up and tied, and soaked for a day will do a good job. Just a tip.

And now, back to your regular programming.
posted by splice at 3:07 AM on July 24, 2006


That's a pretty strong sword, but I'm not convinced it could cut god.

I find your lack of faith disturbing, yellow-haired warrior.
posted by Gator at 4:16 AM on July 24, 2006


It was cooler when Master Tanaka on Mind, Body & Kick Ass Moves cut an arrow in half with his katana. An arrow that had been fired at him. From a longbow. By his daughter.

That was awesome.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:36 AM on July 24, 2006


Katana v. Arrow.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:03 AM on July 24, 2006


I'm just saying that if I'm going to get ino a fight, I don't want there to be any doubts about whether my sword will cut him or not.

I'm also going to want a god-killing gun that won't jam.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:34 AM on July 24, 2006


Oh please, enough with the katana worship. I mean, christ, in that arrow video - that bow she's using looks like it's got all of five pounds of pressure behind it. Look at how the arrow sort of arcs at dude, who's all of 25 feet away. I could probably slap that arrow out of the air with my hand.


Get homeboy in front of a serious compound bow, Nugent style, and we'll see how well he and his sword do.
posted by stenseng at 10:38 AM on July 24, 2006


The Nuge kills and eats samurai for breaksfast. He saves ninja for an 11am brunch, because its hard to hunt ninja on an empty stomach.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:48 AM on July 24, 2006


I had to salute the US flag and wipe a tear from my eye when I saw that when you need an expert on handguns in Japan, you bring in an American. We're number one!

Of course, they guy could have been Canadian, too. But we all know that he wasn't.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:49 AM on July 24, 2006


What happens if Chuck Norris spits a bullet at a katana?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:18 AM on July 24, 2006


hortense, Those are way wiggy shears. The titanium swivellers rock! I want a pair!
posted by nickyskye at 11:34 AM on July 24, 2006


I called the number
but no one answered
archaeology of commerce
posted by Pastabagel at 12:20 PM on July 24, 2006


ginsu blue
posted by Pastabagel at 12:31 PM on July 24, 2006


cenoxo beat me to it, but I remember working in a cutlery shop in the early 90s, SOG used that image on the front of their catalog. It sold them a lot of knives.

Still, a handmade katana is an impressive piece of work. Silly bullet cutting/ arrow blocking tricks aside, and ignoring all the mystical crap, there really are few other edges weapons that have the same build care and quality. (A few European rapiers and some of the Damascus blades come to mind.)
posted by quin at 2:21 PM on July 24, 2006


I must say that the "fat unshaven american handgun expert" seems like a stereotype that I didn't realize existed, but which I have in fact seen many times in my life. Think he drives an IROC?
posted by tcobretti at 2:24 PM on July 24, 2006


And now that I watch it, Mister Cheese's link is actually far more impressive than the single .45 bullet in the FPP. The katana does break, but after cutting six .50 BMG bullets.

By way of comparison, the .45 generates something like 421 foot-pounds of energy. The .50 BMG produces 13,910.

They use the BMG as an anti-material weapon, so that a sword can stand up to even one round is pretty neat.
posted by quin at 2:32 PM on July 24, 2006


Pfft. The sword itself is meaningless. It is the skill with which it is wielded. Musashi used to fight with an oar. If you think you can face a man with a gun with your sword because your sword can cut bullets, you will die. If you think you can face a man with a gun with your sword because you can draw and cut before he can get to his holster, you may live.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:31 PM on July 24, 2006


Would it be possible to enhance a sword with DU?

Lead weighs a lot more than steel, and uranium weighs a lot more than lead, so if you use too much, you'd risk having a blade that is too slow to parry an attack, and too slow to attack without being parried. This might be bad if you were planning on ever using it :)

A combo blade would probably be metallergically tricky, since the softening temperatures and melting points are different. Maybe electroplate to the max or something. Unfortunately, in the USA you need a license to dissolve uranium into a solution (as needed for plating), since this is considering refinement of uranium, which is, um, restricted :)

Tungsten could be a better bet - the reasons the military uses DU instead of tungsten is not magical qualities unique to uranium (tungsten is actually slightly denser, with the other relevant "special" properties suitable also), but that DU is so cheap - the nuclear industry produces it by the ton, and would otherwise have to pay to dispose of it as radioactive waste, so it really has negative value. Along comes Uncle Sam and says "we'll take that troublesome expensive liability off your hands, and we won't even charge you a dime!", and it's a match made in heaven :)

A radium-edge blade with a phosphor coating might look interesting, but I wouldn't want to stand next to it for too long! :)

I still like the diamond edge thing. but really, we need to come up with a way for a sword to be a technology that is actually useful for something before going overboard with "improvements".

We could improve the Flintstones-style chipped-stone wheel, but no-one does :)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:46 PM on July 24, 2006


So... what the army should really do is manufacture a machine gun that accepts belt-fed Japanese swords and fires those.
posted by Durhey at 3:58 PM on July 24, 2006


Steel isn't strong, flesh is stronger! What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?
posted by homunculus at 4:10 PM on July 24, 2006


My cousin got a couple of those rings for her wedding. They're just as awesome in person.

Hers are some combination of copper and gold, so they actually look like wood. Metal wood.
posted by ®@ at 4:35 PM on July 24, 2006


It is the skill with which it is wielded.

True, but I don't think that you would disagree that a master swordsman would prefer a masterfully crafted sword. Musashi Miyamoto did beat a man with an oar, yet his book is how to be a great swordsman. Clearly he felt a steel blade was still important.

Would it be possible to enhance a sword with DU?

-harlequin-'s got it right, but another reason DU would be a poor choice is that it really isn't a particularly strong metal. The reason they use it for armor piercing has more to do with it's properties under high pressure (turning to plasma and the like). Also, i've never heard of anyone forging Uranium. Not saying it can't be done, just that I don't want to be anywhere nearby when someone tries it.

Tungsten is great for this sort of thing, and many knifemaker's use different kinds of tungsten alloys for their blades. It's expensive, but it's worth it.
posted by quin at 5:22 PM on July 24, 2006


"Clearly he felt a steel blade was still important."

"If you are concerned with the strength of your sword, you will try to cut unreasonably strongly, and will not be able to cut at all." - Musashi, the wind book.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:33 AM on July 25, 2006


Ouch. I stand corrected.

/makes note to reread Musashi
posted by quin at 7:52 AM on July 25, 2006


Durhey wins.
posted by ryran at 8:50 AM on July 25, 2006




I recommend the Void book.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:41 AM on July 25, 2006


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