I know and converse with Tony and am quite familiar with Howards blades, those in the polishing biz and many in Japanese Budo. You should know I am in Budo as well (in a very well respected one at that, in fact the oldest extant Japanese school) thus I am extremely familiar with the whole test cutting thang and have been doing so for almost 25 years.
My post was only for a discussion of uniformity of testing materials so there are measurable and thus compatible results..... thats all. If you read between the lines, I am fan of our efforts over the Japanese efforts and can and do show our efforts will out cut theirs. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars buying, testing and destroying Japanese blades to prove it.
Anyway, for me the irony of your reply is that I have been saying the .....exact....... same thing as you for years in Budo circles-that their cutting material is unimpressive and have been getting slammed for saying it.
Further, (and you can read my replies on E-buo and sword forum thus there are witnesses to this), I have openly made fun of my own buddies and told them their grass cutting efforts can be done with a $15.00 re-ground lawnmower blade. That a $3,000-$6,000 katana was not needed. I have kidded that I will show up with a lawn mower blade in full katana mounts (with the arbor whole remaining) I will name my blade "The Grass cutter" and do just as much cutting as they do!
Overall, I believe you will find me as irreverent of all the hoopla and as practical as a smith can get. For me it is budo with a hands-on-hammer approach to blade ware. Sometimes not so popular with the skirt wearing crowd but I can back up what I say on any given day.....with steel in hand, like only a blacksmith can.
I proved a point for a couple of Japanophile students of mine who thought the Japanese sword was the be-all and end-all for bladeware. They spent the day using my Katana and naginata blades to test cut trees. After they were feeling good about themselves I said "Ok fellas, there you see what you can do with two hands and a thirty inch blade. Watch this" I then proceeded to pull out a 16 Kukri, and matched their cuts with a single hand swing with a blade half the size. It was a lesson learned for them to NOT be snobby and dismissive of other cultures efforts in steel.
As or the video of the large mat test cuts..I believe that was watson's angle fire stuff. Most of it was western style swords-but they were morphed blades (not period correct) with longer handles made for test cutting. I tend to look at tests as
"artificial things" these days. Most competant smiths can manipulate a profile to make the test blade cut the material better. I am far more interested in what would have been a field blade ready to use for a particular eras battlefield and then see what "it" can do. as an example: there are well established blade profiles for japanese swords in eras of their maunfacture. They are defined for use those eras. Make a blade for that era and see what it can do.
Today they are morphed (as our imagination may lead) for certain things and even then we manipulate the profile for "single test" materials.
In other words
1. narrow and flat
cuts grass better but it is a week battle blade
2. thicker with an appleseed grind from the shinogi on down (Japanese call it niku- meat)
makes for great soft and hard cutting-thus it is an overall superior blade.
So whats the down side? The superior, battle grade, overall superior weapon, does not cut grass as well. It would on the other hand last on a field of battle and behave...well... sort of like a real weapon should behave. The grass cutter would not. Thus the average uninformed martial artists or suburban white boy observer, can make a serious error in judgment of weaponry based on perceptions that are false.
I cut trees as it is far more demanding, I have also cut livestock and lamb and beef and pig for test cutting. I also stab and cut cloth wrapped beef and pig to test knives. In short, I am a little........wierd. I do it to test what I make and to test...well....me.
Not that most people or smiths even care about all this hoo ha..... It is like a discussion of handle wrappings and furniture types for a sword handle. Most would die laughing at how persnickity we get. But tens of thousands of cuts later you can bet that my contemporaries and I are very concerned about the fit and furniture remaining tight. We even may get all snobby and picky about the styles and match ups far past the correct and traditional wraps. Maybe we're just foo-foo boys after all.
If any of this is confusing it is entirely my fault. I am a terrible writer.