Another Day Down – July 8, 2014, Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan

Right down the tubes, except for a bit of gluing (it’s laminating season). It was shipment day so I spent the morning waiting at the warehouse for a truck to arrive with 19 boxes of wooden swords for the business. The truck never arrived although they say they did, so we’ll end up charged for a double shipment from Toronto to here. That’s less than an hour of driving time (unless it’s rush hour of course) and we’ll pay twice what it cost to get those boxes from China to Toronto.

Think about that, is it any wonder that I see vegetables from China in the supermarket? Or water from Fiji? Really, it’s cheap enough to run boats across the ocean to carry water to Canada. Never mind that people in Guelph drink bottled water. (Your bottled water plant is here in Guelph, the same well water goes into bottles and our taps).

But volume isn’t what I’m into, I can’t compete with the equipment companies that get containerloads of goods from the third world to sell to the karate kids. Note I said 19 boxes, not containers. Instead of trying to make a living pushing junk out the door, we have a single source of shiro kashi that sends us quality controlled weapons, and I make everything else.

It’s niche and it’s expensive and we don’t sell a very high volume but I like it that way. What I don’t make I can’t. For instance, while waiting for the truck I spent some time photographing some kendo ya. These are metal demonstration swords which we prototyped and had made for those who want a set in the dojo. For $600 (introductory pricing for this first shipment of 5 sets) you get two long swords and a short one. These are spring steel without an edge, they won’t break and they’ll develop that nice saw-tooth shape you get with beginners who bang them edge to edge over the years. But the same softness means they don’t bend and it’s not hard to file them smooth again.

I like tools like that, much nicer than having to worry about breathing on my art blade. Oh, got a nick, well sand it out then, it’s metal. He he.

But I’m not going to make those things myself, it’s something that I’ll outsource to those who can do it until it gets too expensive or those who are doing the craft work decide it’s easier to be in an office. Like I said, niche work, sort of like the martial arts I spend most of my time with, not popular, hard to find, but the quality control is better for it.

Think yoga. When I first encountered classes in the ’70s the qualifications of a yoga teacher were important. It was easy to trace the teaching lineage of all the local instructors back to someone in India, within a couple of steps. Today nobody even bothers to ask, there are so many yoga studios and classes that you just decide what night and time you want to go and then look for the class. Who bothers to worry about the quality of instruction, it’s a bit of exercise, get a good sweat on and then go home. No further thought required.

Nah, I’ll stick with the niche stuff.

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