Martial Arts Swords Interview English


Hello Stephan Auster, thank you for the possibility to conduct this interview. We would like to start the interview with a question about your person.


What is your job at MAS and how long have you been working there?

I am the store manager and I have been working here since 2003.


When was MAS founded? And who founded it?

MAS was founded in 2003. Our owner, Brian, is a sword martial art teacher with 29 years of practicing history. He is also a professional engineer and physicist.


What is the main aim you pursue with MAS?

MAS aims to provide high quality training swords for martial art practitioners. We apply engineering and scientific practices to swordmaking.


What kind of swords does MAS produce?

We produce Japanese and Korean style swords.


Where are those products manufactured?

Our blades are forged in Japan, and they are heat treated and mounted in South Korea.


What makes your swords different from others?

All MAS blades are made with AISI L6 alloy steel. Our swords are very light yet highly durable. This is not an easy result to achieve, as lighter sword typically has lower durability (i.e. imaging an axe that is heavy and durable, and a razor that is light and fragile.). Any manufacturer can make heavy and durable swords but not many can make light and strong swords. Any reduction in blade weight translates to much increased sword speed.


Why is the L6 steel the best to craft sword blades?

L6 was originally invented to make tools that cut other steel. So we figured that if a blade made with L6 is good to cut other steel, then it must be good enough for cutting tatami and bamboo poles. Because of exceptional durability, it allows us to make the blade very light while maintaining its strength.

L6 is actually one of more difficult steel to work with, and it cannot be heat treated in the traditional method. A special engineering heat treatment method has to be applied to create the dual micro structures in the blade (e.g., martensite/bainite).


Your company is using Japanese materials only. Today it’s very popular to use stuff from China. What are the advantages of Japanese components, especially the steel?

For simple carbon steel, Chinese steel is as good as one from Japan. However, high quality special alloy steel can be only produced in a handful advanced industrial countries such as Japan. We can’t simply get good quality L6 steel from a Chinese source.


How long does it typically take to forge a MAS sword?

The processes takes relatively long (heat treatment, blade shaping, saya work, lacquer drying time, etc.). Our entire process to create a sword from the beginning to the end takes about 8 weeks.


What are MAS’s goals for the next years?

We have not increased our price in the past 5 years while improving the quality. We want to continue to do so.


Thank you very much for the interview Stephan!