There are various styles of Japanese swords available today. Both antique swords as well as modern versions can be purchased depending on your preferences. Some of today’s Japanese swords are manufactured, but the authentic swords are made by a sword-smith. The various types of Japanese swords are classified by their size and also the manufacturing method.
The Katana is the most common type of Japanese swords and is a long, single-edged sword with a curved blade. Katana’s were used by the Samurai as early as the 1400′s. Samurai’s were Japanese warriors in feudal Japan and were considered to be a nobility military class. The Samurai used a wide variety of weapons, including spears, manrikigusari, and the bow and arrows, but the most common weapons used by the Japanese Samurai was know as the Katana.
Another infamous Japanese warrior was known as the “Ninja”. The sword of choice for the Ninja was known as the Ninjato. Ninja were specially trained assassins that used unconventional warfare methods and techniques. Ninja swords were typically shorter than the Samurai’s Katana’s. This difference in length allowed the Ninja with a faster draw from the scabbard which gave them an advantage at the start of each battle.
Japanese swords & ninja swords are often purchased for a collection or someone who loves Japanese history. Quality and strength of the blade is not necessarily a factor when the sword will only be used as a show piece. But, there are three things you need to keep these three things in mind:
- The heat treatment of a sword during manufacturing determines the strength of the blade. If this process is not properly done the ninja sword may end up being to soft and will dent easily. Verify that the blade was manufactured according to standards.
- The balance of the sword is very important and is crucial if the sword is going to be used. A sword that is not balanced correctly will not allow the user to control the sword as needed.
- The Last important factor if the sword is going to be used is that it needs to be a made as a ‘full tang’ sword. This means the handle and blade are forged together. This creates a much stronger sword.
So, if the sword is to be used strictly for a collectors item the visual appearance is the most critical factor. However if the sword is going to be used for sword competitions and practice make sure the sword is listed as ‘fully functional’ and keep in mind the treatment, balance, and forge of the sword.
Shinobigatana & Ninja Swords
Ninja swords are sometimes referred to as a shinobigatana. Like most ninja weapons the ninja sword had a multitude of uses. The ninja sword was shorter than the katana, it could be worn across the back to provide the ninja with better mobility. The cord (sageo) is connected to the scabbard (saya) about 12 feet in length. The handguard (tsuba) unlike the katana, was square and larger. The sword of the ninja could be laid against a wall to be used to climb the wall, the sword could then be pulled up by the sageo.
The ninja would carry metsubishi (blinding powder) at the bottom of his scabbard to throw into the enemies eyes while drawing his sword. The scabbard could also be used as a snorkel and blowgun. The scabbard often served as a secondary ninja weapon on many missions.
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