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A Black Belt contributing editor examines our fascination with sharpened steel.

Swords have always been more than just tools of war. For as long as they've existed, swords have symbolized power, status and manhood, and they've been at the heart of numerous myths and religious stories. Swords have been the means to achieving destiny in epic literature, as well as a metaphor for the mind in philosophy.

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What does a karateka need to know about the Japanese sword? Well, nothing really.

Karate's roots are not in feudal Japan, where the katana was ubiquitous. Yes, there were plenty of swords in old Okinawa, but as an art directed mostly at unarmed combat, karate emphasizes movements and strategies that are, in many ways, incompatible with those used to make the sword an effective weapon.

It's odd and sometimes unnerving to watch karate demonstrations given by sword "experts." Assuming that a person can use a sword just because he or she has experience in karate is like assuming that because your basketball skills are excellent, you'll be a good lacrosse player — they're both sports that use a ball, after all.

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In 2010, the editor of Black Belt encountered top-tier firearms instructor Louis Awerbuck at a Bruce Lee Foundation event. Their conversation led to this insightful article!

When I attended The Art of Action in 2010, the convention put on by the Bruce Lee Foundation, I thought I recognized the face of a gentleman across the room. He was in the front of the hall, chatting with Linda Lee Cadwell and Shannon Lee. I judged him too important to be a mere attendee, so I scanned the pages of the event program and spotted his name: Louis Awerbuck, one of the world's premier firearms instructors. As soon as the action let up, I made a beeline for him and introduced myself. When he said he's always been drawn to Eastern teachings and the philosophy of Bruce Lee, I asked him if he'd care to write a piece for Black Belt. It's presented below for your enjoyment. It was originally published in the May 2010 issue of Black Belt and titled "The Final Weapon." Sadly, Mr. Awerbuck passed away June 24, 2014.
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