Happy Chinese New Year! Since it is 2019, many of the students have improved their level of technique so that they can now start looking for new swords. For some, they already have a sword but it was their first one.
One thing I noticed was that people didn't really have a preference. What I mean by preferences is not the aesthetic factors, but what I refer to as the "personality" of a sword. What is the balance like? Tip heavy? Handle heavy? What is the curvature like? Do they feel better on nukiuchi? What about leather or silk tsuka ito? Handle length? But importantly, how does it "feel".
Most buy their sword blindly based on reviews and descriptions, or if they see a sword, they just only get to just hold it Luckily, since our dojo has gotten bigger, the variety of swords used has grown as well.
I set up an exercise where everyone was open to volunteering their swords for some match-making. We put each sword all out in different areas in which we then got to choose a station and try out that sword. After a certain amount of swings, then we changed stations. We had many varieties from MAS, Paul Chens, Dynasty Forge, Tozando, Kaneie, and the new Motohaba swords!
Afterward, we shared with each other our top 3, what we did and did not like of the swords we tested. No one got their feelings hurt to hear how others described their partners (as far as I know....). Once we finished the discussion, we all went back to our own swords and took some swings again to compare. I believe it was able to help people open up their minds to other "personalities".
With time and practice, eventually, we'll have set a relationship that we always rely on. However, I think it is best to keep "fresh" so that we can appreciate the one favorite we have. Whether the comfort during kata or testing yourself to see if you can perform with any personality, you gotta learn by exploring others. Sometimes, you just gotta be a playa.