Might be hard to find or he still may be making swords (
), but Rob Criswell is the way to go imho. Solid tool hardened A2 steel and they're great cutters! He set up Benchmades laser and knife making/cutting equipment back in the day from what I remember.
From mats to harder material like bushes/brush/bamboo his swords have worked great for me. Very durable and were made to be a chopping sword more than for collecting. A2 is the steel used to cut other steels so it's really hard (low 60's RC) but can rust if not oiled/maintained. Many $1k plus collector swords will roll or fold and edge with an improper cut, not the Criswell's! I used to cut soda cans in 1/2 from top to bottom through the center while sitting, but aluminum is really soft compared, so it's easy for A2, but still looked neat. Slicing 2liters in 1/2 (left to right on these) full of water and leaving the bottoms halves still full of water was fun too. Used to set up several in a row to see how many you could slice with one blow. Good fun.
He used to makes a Wakizashi (20") and Katana (approx 28" and up) and knives along with a Ninja Sword too (straight blade). Picked mine up at Atlanta Blade show a few years ago. Around $400 for the 20" and $550 for the Katana. http://www.bugei.com/
carries several swords too. Never used one personally but a friend who cuts only mats has and likes several of his.
Also, if you want to learn on your own, Flashing Steel was an enjoyable book on many levels. Good luck!