About Angel Swords -- Do they make me believe in magic?

I've had a number of thoughts about Angel Swords -- especially as they make claims similar to hundreds of others on the web.  In the end, I concluded that they were not any different from any of the other "magical" sites -- and, I specifically do not claim to have the expertise to judge any claims of magic or majic.

For an interesting link on that topic, see http://www.chaosmatrix.com/frames.html?dreamblade

FIRST:  Do I believe in magical forging secrets? Obviously not from what I've seen or held in my hands. Do they exist -- it is possible.

SECOND: If you believe in magic, do I think I can evaluate the benefits magic gives you?  No.

Those things said, the following are my reflections about the very public (and somewhat famous) Angel Swords affair involving Daniel Watson and Ruel. My comments are in red italics. I have preserved spelling and grammar errors rather than edit or change the posts. This article is provided purely because of the historical interest that the conflict had. There is nothing else to recommend it.

RUEL, IN HIS OWN WORDS

OK, here are some of the main sticking points I discussed with Daniel Watson; I hope this will absorb most of the fire (much of which was started by me) directed against Angel Sword, so that we can make an objective appraisal of his answers. Remember that he has just completed the `99 season at our local Fair, and ought to be given some time to rest before addressing the question list presented to him last week.

1. DEFENDING HIMSELF

I emphasized to him that alot of the trouble stems from him not engaging people who have questions or complaints, because it makes it appear that he is ignoring them or has something to hide.
By his own admission, he says he comes across as arrogant and inarticulate, and feels that he will only make matters worse when confronted with what to him seem to be loaded questions.

(No kidding.  From George Bush to George Washington, that has been a real problem everyone faces and learns from -- don't answer loaded questions).

I have encouraged him to be visible anyway, as it lets people know that he is aware of and concerned about our questions; truth and honesty will reveal themselves in spite of whatever shortcomings in eloquence may be present.

2. LIVING STEEL (Construction)

According to him, the difference between Living Steel and swords made by other smiths stems from the fact that his forge is constructed in a radically different fashion from normal forges. This construction allows for superior carburization. I lack the technical knowledge to evaluate such a claim, so I will defer this to Daniel's own answer later.

However, this is one reason why he insists on people coming to visit his forge; he has trouble explaining it, but feels more comfortable demonstrating his technique. I had always thought that he made this insistence solely to impose a costly condition on people wanting a refund, to discourage them, but apparently this was not the case.

3. "MASTER" DANIEL

He told me that this title is more in regard to his being a full lineage holder of Yang T'ai Chi Ch'uan. As for "Master SWORDSMITH," he said that the tradition he trained in, which includes the strange forge setup, is so different from the norm that it doesn't receive recognition from the established smithing community. Again, we will have to defer this question to Daniel himself.

4. THE MEXICAN CONNECTION

Daniel went to live in Mexico for three years, where he taught Chinese martial arts. In that time he began his forging career. He returned to Texas to continue the forge, bringing several Mexican apprentices with him. Later there was a falling out, with the apprentices absconding with several of Daniel's molds and returning to Mexico to begin their own homonymous company.

5. LIVING STEEL (Magic)

It is apparent to me that his concept of "energy" contained in Living Steel is derived from the Chinese concept of Chi. Listening to him, I can tell that he sincerely believes that his blades have this power. Magic was not a factor in my original purchase, and I have always been extremely skeptical of any kind of supernatural claims. But as ever, I would welcome the opportunity to test such claims by controlled scientific experiment. (I would really like to do such testing myself, as I have some experience with experimental design and data analysis.)

We have all heard the personal testimonies of several Angel Sword owners supporting the alleged existence of this energy. I also have some experience in sensation-perception psychology, and, if these people were willing, would like to compile their testimonies and review their responses within the framework of cognitive psych, using meta-analysis of case studies and questionnaires.

(One more site claiming to sell magic swords. Check with your local authority -- I'm the wrong person to ask -- and you need someone you trust to give you perspective.)

6. THE TEMPLARS

Daniel says that this is part of the received tradition passed down by his master, whom he said could list all the names in the lineage (Daniel himself did not memorize the lineage). This would be fascinating if true, and one way to evaluate this claim would be to compare the construction of an Angel Sword to historical examples of Knights Templar swords contained in museums and armories in Europe. Of course, many strings would have to be pulled to get said institutions to allow such scrutiny of their pieces...

(Point Seven is missing in Ruel's own writing. Ruel recently let me know that was a typo on his part. The heading for eight is also missing.  Nothing was clipped.)


8. In sum, it appears that Daniel Watson has been afraid of agitating the rumors about him because his personal style is not entirely diplomatic; yet despite, or maybe because, of his silence, these rumors have gained considerable strength, encouraged by people (like me) who took his silence to mean that he had something to hide, or that he was ignoring people.

Myself, I am hoping (and I said so to Daniel) that he will engage the sword-buying public with solid and reliable information about the physical aspects of his work, and abandon the subjective, "magical" aspect that his promotional literature (and his client-advocates) have relied so heavily on. Even if he honestly believes in the existence of this "magic", it gives the unintended impression that he is substituting simple, metallurgical fact with mystical oohs and aahs.

AGAIN- I do not presume to speak for Daniel Watson. This was merely to help people understand some of the concerns he has about how his answers will be received, and to prepare us for the kind of answers we can expect. Obviously, these answers are going to be very controversial and stimulating, and I wanted to get some of the initial shock out of the way, so that we could evaluate these answers with calm reason.

ruel


Ok, that was what Ruel had to say after it was all over.

The next is the text of an interview.  Quoted exactly as posted to the web, with Watson in Blue, the author's writing in black.

Author: Craig
June 3, 1999 at 07:52:05

>
The following is a text interview that Daniel Watson agreed to answer for a friend of mine who is
a smith and writes for verius smith orgs and pubs. The interview was submitted near on to five
years ago and after the submission my friend was never able to get a update or even a responce
on answers. Possibly there was some problem in the communication, so I will take this
opportunity to submit the questions again for Daniels answers.

I try to put this kind of stuff off for as long as possible, in hopes that it will go away. I have a strong aversion to writing. I would rather play in the fire. I was also very put off by some of the questions, which aren't really questions at all, but rather accusations which in which guilt has already been predetermined. As in: "Were you wearing a red sweater when you raped this child?"

How in the HELL do you answer that? I am also reminded of a Lyndon Johnson story which I hope one of my friends will be kind enough to post, since he tells it better than me.

(No kidding.  From George Bush to George Washington, that has been a real problem everyone faces and learns from -- don't answer loaded questions.  Hmm, I said that before, but it bears repeating in case you find yourself in the same situation. If someone is refusing to answer loaded questions, all you can tell is that they have some good sense.).

Your Personal History:************************************

How many years have you been making knives and swords and what percentage of those years have you been in business?

I have been making swords seriously since1979 and began selling them at my martial arts school in Cuernavaca, Morelos Mexico later the same year. Later I began selling at martial arts tournaments and seminars. I went to full time in 1983 when I moved back to the U.S.

How did you get started in the trade/craft of the bladesmith?

Several significant things happened to me when I was 9 yrs, old. I got my first sword, a 300 yr. old Chinese jian (I took it out and split a fence post with 1 stroke), I started training in the martial arts, and I got to start helping out in a welding shop down the street (my my first job was working with the calcium carbide to make acetylene).

Who were your early instructors

I started learning the actual sword smithing from an 80 yr old man in Mexico who had made swords during the Mexican revolution. (For steel they would tear up railroad rails.) I worked with him off and on for 4 years. Carving, casting, etching, engraving, lapidary, woodworking, all came from different people throughout my life. As for as well known U.S. smiths, I learned pattern-weld damascus from Don Hastings, (1983?) He also helped clarify a lot of what I was doing with carburization but didn't really understand.

and whom in the industry do you respect or admire?

I would love to have the chance to work with Al Pendray. I am envious of some of the work done by Warenski, Fogg, Bell, Batson, Imel, and England. Each one far outclasses me in a different way.

Your promotional material names you as a "Master Smith," when and how did you receive this title?

I was chosen for the title of "Master Artist in Metal" by one of the finest art shows in the U.S., the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, in 1985(?). This is a difficult show to get into, and to be given the Master Artist award was a real honor; in 25 years the 400+ craftpeople had chosen only 30 of themselves as master level. In 1988 they gave me an award as Master Bladesmith. In 1989 I was knighted as Master Smith.

Actually I think most of my promo now uses the term "Master Swordsmith" to help disguish from the ABS. But even so, they have no exclusivity on the term. There are are any number of master level smiths who are not ABS.  The ABS is about knives. My work is about swords.

Maybe there should be an organization of swordsmiths! But I'd probably piss everybody else off anyways.


Do you still have some of your earlier pieces? Or do they reside in private collections?

I am embarrassed by most of my early works when I run across them. (I would like to pull some of them in and try to correct some of the more obvious finishing flaws.) But I still have 2 of my early swords that I keep under my bed.

Do you currently, or have you in the past, belonged to the American Bladesmith Society or the Knifemakers Guild?

My membership in the ABS is current. I also try to keep up with my dues in ABANA and JSS.

Have you ever submitted any of your work to the jury/testing of any of the above organizations?

I first underwent the ABS testing under Don Hastings in 83?, and passed. At the ABS show that year it was decided that I should be an ABS member for another year before receiving my rating. I didn't get it at the time but I now think that in part they were blown away by the volume of pieces that I was making. Everyone else was working as a one man shop, and here I came in as a newbie running a whole crew of guys and making LOTS of pieces. Anyways after that my shows loaded up my schedule, (got a payrole to meet you know) and I couldn't afford to miss one of my Renfairs where most of my sales take place. A few years ago (95?) I re-tested with Harvey Dean, passed, paid for a table at the Blade show, and still had to miss it when I couldn't get anyone to cover me adequately at my regular renfair.

In 1985(?) I went to a Knifemakers Guild show, got my application signed by the correct number of members, but when I shipped my main piece (a sword) in to be judged, the box arrived with forklift tracks across it, a crease where it had been bent 90 degrees, and a cracked sword. That went over like a lead ballon. (BTW Now I don't ship UPS. since they refused to pay insurance on anything that could be considered a work of art or is one of a kind.)

I do have some disagreements with the ABS and their way of doing things, but this is not the proper format for discussing that.


I had originally planned to interview Watson myself, for a conclusion to this article, and to include hundreds of more words of postings and comments.

I had "miles" of posts, enough material to choke three men and a boy and ... the bottom line was that there wasn't anything unique or special about the story, the swords or the resolution (Ruel got his money back and a replacement sword and seems to be content.  I saw nothing in the sword that I handled and took pictures of that caused me to want to own one or to recommend the web site or the swords).

Do I believe in magic?  Not with swords. Does it make $50.00 wall hangers into thousand dollar magical implements?  (And no, this is not a specific comment on Angel Swords, but rather on "magical" swords in general. I have it on an authority that I trust that some Angel Swords are excellent swords -- magic or no magic). How should I know -- except to note I would not pay the difference from what I saw. Is there anything that makes Angel Swords different or unique among those who claim to be producing magical swords -- not that I can tell -- other than the fact that some of them are good swords. Many "magic swords" are not good swords. In the end, I could not find any magic and I could not find a story worth the telling.  I've provided this summary only because of the massive amount of bandwidth the Ruel/Angel Swords issue took up, once upon a time.  For historical purposes, something needed to be said for those who wonder how the story ended.  

No disrespect intended or appropriate towards anyone.

BTW, my recommendations are at http://adrr.com/sword/ and they don't have anything to do with magic, strange histories, the ABS or anything else but swords. (I know the ABS is a large organization that I am completely unqualified to comment on and I also know that there are losts of other things I am completely unqualified to comment on. That is a good note to end this article with -- that there are many things I am completely unqualified to comment on).

 

Search:
Keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com

Table of Contents -- tmp_toc.htm
Copyright 2000 Stephen R. Marsh
All Rights Reserved

Swords -- Home Page

Personal Comments, Reflections

Sword Links

Fantasy Swords

Rapier Links

Vendor LinksArmor Links

Swords "Inspired by ..."

Swords for Stage and Enactment

Caveats

Damascus sources

Cleaning that Sword

Kanji Graphics

Angel Sword Article

Three Good Starter Swords

Sword Books

Bengoshi Waza

Sword Forum Magazine Online

Back to http://adrr.com/hero/