Swordsmithing is an ancient discipline that is not widely practised. There are no apprenticeship programs through schools that one can enrol in. Schooling is important to gain the basic forging techniques you will need to become an apprentice. It is up to the master swordsmith to choose to train an apprentice or not. Many apprentices are interested in Japanese style swordsmithing. In Japan, swordsmithing is regulated by law. In order to become a master swordsmith you must apprentice under a legally recognised master swordsmith for five years and then take a swordsmithing test, which is offered once a year.
- Skill level:
Enrol in forging classes and do very well in them. A master swordsmith will likely want to train someone with a great deal of talent and skill. Use forging classes to gain the amount of skill needed to impress a master. Forging classes can be difficult to find, but not impossible.
Read publications about swordsmithing and look for forging classes in these periodicals.There are many technical aspects to swordsmithing that you will need to be acquainted with before being considered by a master for apprenticeship. When reading sword enthusiast magazines or books, look for a master swordsmith you would want to apprentice under. The master you would like to apprentice under would ideally have an interest in the same types of blades that you wish to create.
Find out if the master you wish to apprentice under currently has an apprentice. Most master swordsmiths will only take one apprentice at a time. Because apprenticeship takes years, you may have to wait a long time for a master to be open to teaching you.
Approach the master in person and bring your best pieces to show the master. At all times, you should be respectful and earnest in your request to become an apprentice. Master swordsmiths receive a lot of requests to take on apprentices, and most of these they refuse. Becoming a swordsmith is a process that takes years and requires a great amount of time and effort on the part of the master and the apprentice. Do not be dismayed if you are not accepted right away. If you are not accepted as a apprentice, work on your forging techniques and return with better pieces or seek out another master.
Prepare to move to where your master lives. In the past, the apprentice lived in the home of the master’s family. He would be asked to do chores for the family and help out in all aspects of family life. While this is less common currently, the relationship between master and apprentice is quite close and you will be required to at least live nearby.
Tips and warnings
- Remember that when a master takes on an apprentice, he is investing a great amount of his time and skill into training his apprentice. Always be aware of this and treat your master with respect.
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