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Our Handle Wrapping page has additional information regarding ordering handle wrapping cord (Tsuka-ito). To those who are unfamiliar with Japanese words and how to pronounce them, (used on this page and others), you have my sympathy. I prefer the word 'handle' ...but 'Tsuka' is the term used by collectors and practitioners of the 'slice and dice' philosophy. Anyhow, Tsuka-ito is the name for handle wrapping cord (also referred to as 'ito'). Tsukamaki is the name of the process of wrapping the handle and a Tsukamaki-shi is the person doing the wrapping. I guess it all makes sense, right ?
Cameras are easily fooled and computer monitors hardly ever display the exact shades of colors. Above are two photo's taken years apart with the image to the right taken when we added Chocolate Brown (3rd down from the top). (from top down, Image on the right hand side): Medium Brown (out of stock), Reddish Brown, Chocolate Brown, Ivy Green, Navy Blue, Battleship Gray, Cranberry & Black.
More about the exclusive TSUNAMI handle wrapping cord.
Most 'users' of TSUNAMI will tell you that at first, it looks & feels like real suede leather but unlike leather, TSUNAMI does not get as gummy or slick as suede leather does and if it becomes soiled from heavy use, it is easy to clean. TSUNAMI is a 'man made' material with all of the good attributes and none of the bad. It provides the 'user' a comfortable grip and the satisfaction that the sword will not slip out of a users hands.
Shortly after we introduced TSUNAMI, I was contacted by a gentleman named GREG who said he heard great things about the TSUNAMI but wanted to know more about it from someone who had more experience with it. Because one of our earlier customers:( 'Russ McCartney'. formerly of Seattle), who had only recently set a GUINNESS WORLDS RECORD cutting Mats (Gozo) using his sword (one that we had recently wrapped with TSUNAMI), I encouraged Greg to contact Russ directly. The following is a copy of Greg's inquiry and Russ's reply.
GREG inquired: "Mr. McCartney, Fred Lohman suggested that it would be O.K. if I contacted you for information in regard to the TSUNAMI cord your working swords are wrapped with. I have a high-end Iaito which is my primary practice sword but the silk Tsuka ito is wearing out right where it sits in the crotch of my thumb. Obviously I want my handles rewrapped so it will last many years, and will not fall apart. Has your experience with Fred's work been 100% satisfactory, and is the TSUNAMI good to practice with? Thanks in advance, Greg.
"Russ replied: "Greg, I would recommend Fred's TSUNAMI to everyone who is interested in a durable long lasting slip resistant Tsuka. Its texture and feel is far superior to any of the materials that I have used in the past (I have tried them all) and consistently meets my requirements for durability and most importantly, reliability and longevity. Of course various sorts of handle wrap material can do the job under light training conditions yet the TSUNAMI wrap holds up under the duress of hundreds of swings without gumming up like real suede leather (either Cow, Doe or Deer) or become slick like silk. Additionally, with Fred's TSUNAMI, there is not the heat issues from friction that accompany heavy training schedules. I have had over 15 swords wrapped in as many years and given the opportunity to do it again, I would have used Fred's TSUNAMI on them all. Fred's handle wrapping service is extra-ordinary both from the quality of the material to the symmetry of the diamonds to the tightness of the twists. Fred had a winning combination."
Domo Desu, Russell McCartney Founder and Chief Instructor, Shin Koryu, IshiYama Battojutsu and Peak Performance Sword Systems PH: 206.321.8878 Email: email@example.com www.ishiyamaryu.com
A testimonial that tells it like it is ! Thanks Russ !
Another recent unsolicited letter received 2/27/12 Hi Fred, Yes the tsunami wrap only seems to get better with time. The perspiration from the hands and micro amounts of skin that wear off during heavy use or prolonged swing sessions don't seem to bother it. I really like it because the more use it gets the more it seems to resemble 'old style' silk ito Tsukamaki with the traditional pitch application under the wrap. But note: I can only assume it will get like this over very long periods of intense use. I have never needed to wash or clean it either. Thus far I only have about 20 thousand swings on this wrap (see picture). In picture #2 you'll see the hand holds are compacted nicely and the space between my grip holds still have nearly the original nap of the cord. This wrap has been in regular use on this Shin Shinto sword since I received it from you over eight years ago.
I love the tsunami wrap and recommend it to everyone. As a prolific stylist and cutter in the Ishi Yama Tradition my 5th Dan Black Belt Steve Baxter just received his new sword with this tsunami wrap from you and seems to love it as much as I do. I'm sure Steve would also be happy to provide updates on his experiences with it too. He can be reached through an additional new web site for IYR Battojutsu, www.ishiyamaryu.net
Battleship Gray above.... Cranberry Red below, with a slight 'waisted' shape.
GENUINE 'SUEDE LEATHER' CORD WE HAVE RECENTLY ADDED REAL 'SUEDE LEATHER' CORD FOR THOSE WHO HAVE USED IT IN THE PAST AND PREFER IT. IT IS AVAILABLE IN BLACK AND 'SAND' COLORS ONLY... AND STILL ONLY $4 PER FOOT.
A NOTE about 'Stingray skin' (aka: Same', Samegawa and: 'The pebbly white stuff under the wrap", Shark, etc). The skin of the common Stingray has been used on Japanese Sword handles for a very long time mostly due to its rough texture which when wrapped with 'cord', denies the cord from slipping. When 'full wrapped' around the handle (in difference to strips or side panels) makes the Tsuka (handle) considerably stronger and less apt to fail during stressful situations. In its natural state, the skin is dirty, smelly and is mostly prized for its extremely rough texture. In an effort to make it presentable for commercial use, the outer side of the skin is scrubbed with heavy duty wire brushes in their effort to remove the yuk & guck.
Other special chemicals are applied if the skin is intended to be 'tanned', a process by which it is turned into leather for use other than for Japanese Sword handles.
As part of the cleaning process, (after meat has been removed from the inside for food), hard working men using scrapers, wire brushes and large rasps (files) scrape away all of the remaining flesh from the bottom of the skin, a process where the goal is to make it thin and smooth to the touch. The scraped & cleaned skins are then dumped into containers of high strength Hydro Peroxide to remove the dingy color and after soaking for a prescribed amount of time, the skin becomes almost snow white in color and at this point, technically classified as 'rawhide'. Those of us who have been involved as dealers purchasing skins in large quantities from Asian suppliers sources fully understand and appreciate the time and effort involved in the cleaning process.
Another NOTE: Skins observed 'on line' ( colored Black, Red, Blue, etc) on handles of some Martial Arts swords are the result of an 'after market' application of lacquer (applied only after the skin has been cut, fitted and fully dried on the Tsuka 'core' and, before being wrapped with cord).
Sub NOTE: Care should be taken to avoid mistakenly ordering 'tanned' skins, regardless of their color as part of the process, tanned skins are sanded smooth so that the skin can be used for billfolds, boots, motorcycle seats (etc) and because it has been sanded smooth, the tanned skins have lost their ability to serve the function of keeping the handle cord (Tsukaito) from sliding.
TSUNAMI (which is a synthetic Suede fabric) looks and feels very much like regular suede leather. The big difference and benefit to the user is that TSUNAMI cord is available in a single continuous piece throughout its entire length and there are no weak ugly 'joints' every foot or two (like Deer aka DOE skin) where pieces are joined together. A ninety day comparison test was recently completed in which we provided a loyal customer with two handles (one wrapped with TSUNAMI and the other with Deer (aka DOE), and after the test period in which both handles were used equally, we were all amazed that the TSUNAMI still looked new, it did not curl up on the edges, did not soil quickly or get slick as leather 'suede' is known to do and unlike Deer (aka DOE), it has no 'glue joints'. While the test lasted only 3 months, based on the results that were verified, we are here to state that TSUNAMI will outperform natural suede leather (Cow, Water Buffalo, Horse, Pig, Donkey & DOE skin) TEN to ONE in customer satisfaction.
FINE LEATHER Our exclusive GENUINE leather cord (TSUKA-ITO) is now fully available. Our leather cord is judged to be the finest because it is NON-STRETCH and as a result, it can be tied tightly with the assurance that it will not stretch like a rubber band and loosen as other types of leather will.
The undisputed elegance of black Leather on black Same'
SILK The below handle wrapping cord (Tsuka-ito) is pure Silk and a limited number of colors are available in other widths.
and not all are available, all of the time.
TSUKA-ITO (handle wrapping cord)
Mid (Military) Brown
05. Violet (or Purple)
06. Chocolate Brown
08. Teal Green
09. Silver Blue
11. Silver Green
13. Blood Red
14. Scarlet or Burgundy Red
15. Teal Blue
16. Navy Blue
NOTE : Different computers and monitor settings produce colors will vary slightly from one to another.
NOTE: The cords displayed above are 'handle wrapping cords' and below (called SAGEO) were traditionally used to secure the sword to the users waist.
'Extra long Sageo' (220cm) are similar to Katana Sageo except they are 7 feet long instead of 5.5 feet
and they are available in a much wider selection of colors. Most Sageo being used today are made by what is referred to as 'man-made SILK'.
IF you want a genuine Silk Sageo, they are available and cost approximately $80 to $100 & sometimes more.
Most users of our 'man-made Silk' Sageo have voiced an opinion that there is little difference between it & 'genuine Silk'.
'SAGEO' EXTRA LONG (220cm / 7 foot) Wider and thicker cord used to secure the sword to your waist.
04. Teal Green
05. Teal Blue
07. Black with White flecks
09. Black with Blue flecks
10. Brown with White flecks
11. Chocolate Brown
12. Green with Brown flecks
13. Brown with Green flecks
14. Blue with Brown flecks
15. Navy Blue
16. Blue with Green flecks
17. Blue with Gold flecks
18. Brown with Gold flecks
19. Black with Gold flecks
20. Gold with Black flecks
22. Blood Red with White flecks
23. Blood Red
24. Blood Red with Black flecks
25. Burgundy Red
colors will vary slightly because of different monitor settings.
Click here to check out a few interesting SAGEO TYING STYLES
A standard KATANA length (66" average) cord is used to secure the Sword to your waist. Man made SILK Sageo have been available for some time, and except of Black, their colors will seldom match the colors of Tsukaito... and for this reason, black Sageo are the most common.
03. Teal Green
04. Teal Blue
08. Navy Blue
09. Scarlet Red
NOTE : Monitor settings produce colors that differ from computer to computer.
Wakizashi and Tanto SAGEO are available in a limited choice of colors.
NOTE: Tsuka-ito (Handle wrapping cord) We offer 10mm wide Silk ito from Japan. Like all Japanese produced Katana width cord (ito), it measures 10mm wide when 'relaxed' and 8mm when pulled tight.
Call for details (503) 282-4567 --or- - E-mail
or, write to:
3405 N.E. Broadway Portland, OR 97232 U.S.A.