She needs to feel a sword's 'magic'

Ning Cai, better known as Magic Babe Ning, loves swords.

The 30-year-old illusionist has spent about $10,000 on her treasured beauties, which are displayed on racks at home and in her office.

"Swords are one of my guilty pleasures. They are a treat for myself after a big project," says the owner of 50 blades, mostly samurai swords and Japanese knives.

"Swords are pieces of art. The design of the handle, the engravings on the blades, these make each sword special and beautiful."

Her interest started when she was a 14-year-old student at Methodist Girls' School.

She says: "I was a tomboy. Other girls played with Barbie but I liked He-Man.

"I love knives - they are cool, sleek and sexy."

She would save her pocket money to buy foldable knives. She collected 16 of them over a few years. But her mother threw them out when she stumbled upon her collection.

"My mother felt that having such blades in the house was bad for fengshui and for our family relations," says Ms Cai.

"She was a traditional Chinese and could not understand my interest in knives. Back then, I had to accept her decision because I was living under her roof."

In 2006, she began collecting again.

Ms Cai bought a pair of sai - prong-shaped weapon like the one used by Raphael of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - for under $1,000 and hid them in her office.

She says: "They are among my favourite blades. I can move fast with them."

Ms Cai taught herself how to spin the sai within two weeks of buying them and has made a YouTube video teaching others how to do so.

After she moved into her own flat in 2008, her collection grew further. She shops for swords about four times a year.

She says: "I don't have a budget when I shop. I must feel its 'magic'. It must call out to me. It must suit my look and personality."

Her favourite blade is a full-length samurai sword worth $800, a birthday gift from a friend in 2008.

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