First-Run "Okinawan Training Sai"-style Sai
We have made 25 pair of Okinawan Training Sai-style Karate Sai and are awaiting import. These are our higher quality take of an old pair Hanshi "Willie" Adams had obtained from Okinawa. With a traditional Okinawan Sai the widest point of the blade is adjacent to the hilt. On a training Sai the weight is heavier than a traditional Sai of the same blade length and the widest point of the blade is down the blade towards the tip from the hilt.
These should not be your first pair of Sai. If you are physically able and can afford it, get an appropriately weighted high-quality combat Sai for your first pair. Master Modell is comfortable recommending Master Hargrove's shop-made Sai, Shureido stainless steel Sai, and (for those who want an unusual point of balance) Hanshi Peter Carbone's Energy Sai of Agena. There may be other great Sai out there, but this is what he is familiar with that is really good. Avoid chrome-plated weaponry. Blackened ("natural finish") is fine but it rusts quickly so clean it immediately after use. Shureido is currently coating their blackened Sai with some kind of clear coat. Do not get an ultra-light pair as it will make it more difficult for you to learn how to use the weapon properly.
Once you are in the groove on Sai, our Training Sai are to help you get to the next level. Train with these and combat Sai, show with combat Sai. That said, the time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself. If you have the bucks you might want to snag these high quality Sai when they are available.
The blade length and weight of the 25 pair in the limited production run is, approximately 14 1/2 inches and 830 grams, respectively. That weight is about 7% to 10% heavier than the corresponding length Shureido and Shureido-like custom Sai but the feel is dramatically different.
Modell Design LLC and the forge (which is NOT in Okinawa) have tremendous experience making steel weapons that flip due to leadership in the high-quality end of the Gung Fu Butterly Sword field. The balance on these Training Sai is outstandingly good.
This first-run of the training Sai are made from French stainless steel, professionally tempered, and polished to a mirror finish. We presently regard the precise type of steel and exact hardness as a "trade secret." There is no chrome or plating. We believe this level of finish is a Sai first and sets the standard for quality.
The Training Sai are priced at $325 per pair plus shipping and, if you are in Michigan, sales tax. They will be cord wrapped. No sheath or case is included.
Here are the caveats:
1) The 25 pair are being allocated on a first come, first save basis. If you want to reserve a pair, contact us at info@modelldesignllc (and be sure to put "Training Sai" in the subject line).
2) Combat weight Sai are weapons. If you impale, scrape or bash yourself or others with one you can do serious damage. The tip and tines are usually not sharpened but can still tear a Karate uniform or flesh. If you flip the Sai back to a reverse grip and smash the blade at full speed into your forearm bone, or lock the Sai with the same result, rather than retracting rapidly then finishing with a soft close as taught by Hanshi Adams to Master Modell, you can break, fracture or micro-fracture bone. Since Training Sai are heavier than combat Sai this pair can do magnified damage (total damage will vary based factors including weight, speed and how you performed the technique).
3) We are backing the steel portion of the Sai with a limited warranty that essentially says if it is not as designed, we will fix it or give you a refund, but if you manage to hurt yourself, anyone or property, that's entirely on you. There is no warranty of fitness for a particular use (if we did that you would find a way to get around the exclusion for damage beyond replacement cost). There is no warranty on the cord wrap. Sai wraps get loose or otherwise wear out. If you do not like our cord diameter, cord color, cord material or wrap, feel free to replace it with other cord, tennis racket tape, hockey tape, or just leave the steel exposed. Weapons grade stainless steels are not stainless, they are stain resistant to varying degrees. That means they tarnish or rust if you fail to care for them. Anytime you touch the steel (finger oil, sweat) you should clean them after use. We advise using non-acidic liquid dishwasher soap and water run down the blade (not under the wrap) and tines, then on the butt with the butt down, in a large kitchen or laundry room sink then promptly dried. Do not put in dishwasher. Over time bashing blade against blade or other steel or stone will mar the finish with scratches and/or dents. Some of this can be polished out though one would have to ask why bother. There is no chrome to chip off. Is it possible to break the blade or other parts of the weapon? Absolutely; we have yet to see a weapon that could not be bent or broken. One fellow dropped a Busse knife of a cliff. If you have any question as to the quality of our Training Sai, talk to someone who has used one.
We did some custom orders in 2018 and expect to get them in late 2019. They generally require re-balancing the entire Sai, which can be a LOT of work. We have no current plans to do no more absent a premium to cover our increased costs.
In Hanshi Adams' lineage, the right size is a blade length that reaches one inch past your elbow when the Sai is held in a reverse grip. To emphasize, the critical point is the blade length, not the total length of the Sai. However, the handle must be of a size sufficient for your hand and your hand must fit under the tines during a reverse grip.
We are currently testing ordinary combat weight stainless steel Sai, highly polished. They will have round blades that taper from the base to the tip. We are targeting a weight roughly 10% less than Shureido stainless steel Sai.