The bond between sword and master is one of respect, ability, and spirit.
One is useless without the other.
In the hands of a master, the sword becomes an extension of the spirit and the will, helping to focus one's energy.
To the rest of us, a sword is a tool.
No more than a survival knife, yet the sword and it's capabilities, still need to be respected.
First and foremost, in practical context, a sword, even a knife, for that matter, needs to be "FULL TANG". This means solid width, the length of the
sword complete through the handle.
On hard hit if the blade is not full tang, will shatter (any) handle, including poured metal. A sword with a drop end tang will slide right out or the
handle and render you injured and/or defenseless.
In survival situations, anything that cuts is useful and defense capable.
Through personal experience, and the acquisition of several dozen swords throughout my life, more expensive does not really mean better.
I have purchased some really nice swords, and I will be honest, the Best and most practical of any of them, was actually not that expensive.
I have destroyed every sword I ever had, testing it out practically.
Save for one. I could not kill it. I dulled it and resharpened it and purchased several more.
The sword is like this one.
I beat the hell out of this sword, and resharpened it and beat the hell out of it again and resharpened it again etc.
The one thing I had to do though was, add more cushion and wrapping to the handle. Reverbs.
Once you are used to it though, this sword is great.
I have also 2 short swords More like buie knives, of this make.
I cut 2" tree branches, thick marine rope, banged nails with the back side, which is really thick, and adds a lot of strength, stabbed it through a
door panel, chopped down a small tree, cut wire, opened cans, chopped open coconuts, broken windshields and poked a hole in the trunk of a junker car,
stabbed it into asphalt, and broke my pals katana with it.
A turn or 2 on the wheel to fix burrs, a sharpening stone, and a honing stone, and good as new.
Indispensable in my book. And it's cheap.
As far as defense goes, I am dead when I face down a ninja for sure, but I know how to conceal and handle a sword and I am not a novice.
Once again as stated before, training is the key.
Don't assume that just because you have a tool you will know how to use it.
After all a pen can be just as deadly as a sword, and it's only a pen.
[edit on 18/5/2009 by reticledc]