- Dave Thomas American-Statesman staff
Summer has slipped away. September is coming.
And there you are, still without a sword. Not even a dirk, stiletto or spear.
Your Texas friends and neighbors probably armed themselves right after Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 1935 allowing open carry of all sorts of edged weapons. The quiet guy across the street? Totally stocking up on ninja throwing stars. I know, keeping Austin weird …
(The Legislature, in a moment of weakness, did hold on to some restrictions: You can’t take your scimitar to school. You can’t take your longsword to a Longhorns game. You can’t take your bastard sword to the bar …. which is probably a good limitation.)
Chances are last year’s law allowing open carry of handguns didn’t send you or your friends scrambling for just the right Glock to complement your kicks. But this is a fashionable town. And swords are a more elegant weapon — they’ll be all the civilized rage.
Lucky you, America’s most celebrated swordsmith lives right down the road in Driftwood. Daniel Watson is an ex-engineer-turned-metallurgy magician who creates swords of all sorts that sell for thousands of dollars. Some custom jobs have cost as much as $20,000, though he is not currently accepting new custom orders. (Check out a 2016 interview with Watson on cnbc.com right here.)
Through his company, Angel Sword, Watson sells his blades at renaissance festivals across Texas and frequently at custom knife shows. Your next chance to “buy local” will be northwest of Houston at the Texas Renaissance Festival starting at the end of September.
If you don’t have four or five figures in your blade budget or aim to be armed from the get-go, you can still keep it local by shopping Therion Arms International, a mail-order business based in Del Valle. From his site, Hal Siegel sells a wide range of blades in the hundreds of dollars and a variety of extras — why yes, that Viking Spectacle Helmet will be the envy of everyone, except perhaps your hot yoga class.
Angel Sword’s Watson was busy at the forge (or maybe not in the mood for irreverent writers), but fortunately I secured an email interview with Jeremy Liebbe, who serves as “Inquisitor” for Angel Sword — which is not nearly as awesome as his initial company title “Dark Lord of the Smith.” Liebbe, a retired police detective, trained forensic psychologist and self-professed geek/nerd, handles much of Watson’s business and communications operations.
I had a few questions about how the sword enthusiast community felt about the new law and what advice they had for us rookies. With some edits for length, here’s how it went …
What do you think about Texans being allowed to openly carry swords and spears? Is this a good idea?
“We strongly support the Texas legislature’s recent decision to support diversity throughout the great state of Texas. Swords and spears have for too long been second-class weapons, forced to remain hidden behind closed doors and deprived their right to fully participate in modern society.”
What are the advantages of carrying a sword instead of a firearm?
“With the computer mouse so common in businesses and households, it is easy for the average person to purchase a point-and-click weapon, such as a handgun. Swordsmen and swordswomen come in two categories: those who are highly trained and those who are often deemed crazy. This tells a would-be opponent that a citizen armed with a sword is skilled, crazy, or perhaps both and thus has the potential to de-escalate a situation before blood needs to be drawn. We also consider a sword to be superior to a firearm in dis-arming an opponent, with options to dis-arm at the wrist, elbow, shoulder, or anywhere in between.”
What are the disadvantages of carrying a sword or spear?
“One should always consider proportions and the environment before strapping on a sword. We would not recommend a person who utilizes a motorcycle, moped, or compact car to carry a Japanese odachi or Scottish claymore. Men should consider the height of urinals available in public restrooms when deciding to carry a longsword or a short sword. Additionally, one must consider whether others might attempt to admire and perhaps even fondle their sword.”
How should the average Austinite arm himself in advance of the Sept. 1 law? What sword would you recommend for everyday carry?
“We believe that the best-armed individuals begin with knowledge and understanding. There are quality martial arts schools throughout the area that will teach Austinites and other Texans the proper care, use, and techniques for modern swordsmanship.
“Our recommendations for everyday carry depend on many factors, notably proper fashion. A jeweled rapier is the perfect accent piece to the modern cocktail dress or tuxedo, providing both high fashion and self-defense. A brutal yet effective bastard sword just isn’t appropriate for the opera or theatre, yet pairs well with NASCAR races and monster truck rallies. A mid-length wakizashi perfectly accents the modern duty belt of police patrol officers while full length katanas are more appropriate for high-risk SWAT operations.
“While the options may seem limitless, we at Angel Sword stand ready to leverage our expertise to fellow Austinites in selecting the perfect edged weapon for any occasion. At a bare minimum, we highly recommend daily carry of a quality sushi knife as they are adaptable to a variety of dining excursions and are vastly superior to the small table saws sadly provided by most steak houses.”