SGC Specialized Goza Cutter
Review by Hans Fricke, March 2008

Cheness is selling a SGC “Specialized Goza Cutter” for a mere US$ 299. I could not resist ordering one, and the first impression one gets is; oh what a blade! It's big and beefy, mono tempered, and with a nice looking temper-line hamon. The fittings are fine and so is the handle tsuka, inlaid with shark-skin same and with the tang nakago well secured with two pegs mekugi. What I found strange is that the second mekugi is made out of brass while the first one is made out of bamboo. Metal mekugi seem to have a tendency to transfer blade vibrations into the handle and are traditionally never used. Or maybe, for safety reasons, Cheness  decided to insert a brass pin as well? The scabbard saya I found to be too rounded making it somewhat akward to place through an obi or  perform saya-biki.

The blade is marketed as a Goza (tatami-omote) Cutter and having an impressive 38mm blade width near the ha-machi and a 32 mm width in the mono-uchi area the blade weights 1320 grams at a mere length of 2.33 shaku, but feels more like a 1200gram blade due to its good balance. The blade's thickness is 6mm at the back- notch mune-machi and tapers off to 5 mmm in the cutting area mono-uchi. The upper-surface shinogi-ji at the sleeve habaki is 15mm, tapering of to 12mm in the mono-uchi area. The kisaki is well formed but finished only with a file; no polishing there. The cutting edge had no burrs or imperfections and cuts paper without ripping.

The cutting edge and hamon are well defined.

The kisaki is well formed, but could do with a nice polish.

However, the line shinogi, instead of being crisp and sharp, is too rounded, indicating a mashine-polish rather then being hand-polished on a stone.

The blade's construction is of mono steel and of the shinogi-zukuri flat type and should give the blade outstanding tatami-omote cutting ability. The emphasis here is on should, because, after excessive test-cutting, the blade showed some shortcomings that became obvious after the very first cut.

However, in a comparison cutting-test the blade's performance lacked well behind when compared to a  katana in the same price-range.

The fittings are all of reasonable quality and fit well. The blade is centre mounted and at the correct angle. The handle tsuka is well made and feels comfortable when handled.

In placing this katana next to the Goza Cutter it  looks like a toy, but surprisingly, outperforms the SGC in all 4 basic cuts: keasgiri, kiriage, mayoko-giri and especially suemono-giri.

When watching the video clips one can hear the sound each blade makes when it cuts through its designated targets. The Goza will cut with a dull thump and move the target, a sure sign of too much friction, especially when trying to cut suemonogiri. The other blade slices through effortlessly, all the while giving off a very distinctive crispy cutting sound, indicating a smooth transition into, and through the target.

What is not so evident is the extra power needed when cutting with the SGC. In comparison to the other blade the SGC needs definitely much more effort and firmer handling.

The brass mekugi

The saya has  water-buffalo-horn covering the koiguchi, but the  sides are too wide and rounded; making the saya somewhat akward to handle.

© 2009 - SSJS, Sei Do Kan Dojo All rights reserved.

Functionality  7 out of 10
Practicality  7 out of 10
Quality  8 out of 10
Looks  8 out of 10
Feel and handling  8 out of 10
Safety & tsuka fittings  9 out of

When compared to other katana in the same price range the cutting performance on tatami-omote was somewhat disappointing, but on take the blade did a reasonable good job.

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