The Japanese Sword

The History of the Japanese Sword

The Japanese Sword is one of the most iconic martial arts weapons of all time. From its humble beginning as a tool for utilitarian purposes to being the symbol of a warrior’s prowess, the Japanese sword has been depicted and continues to be depicted, in movies, comics, books, and other mediums. The katana is a sacred symbol in Japan and is often associated with the Samurai. However, many people don’t realize that this weapon is actually part of a very extensive martial art family.


A Japanese sword, or katana, was originally a single-edged blade

that was mainly used for cutting food during ceremonial events. The first katanas were not curved at all but rather straight and were created in the third century BC. The blades of these first swords were then curved only later in the third century, during the Edo Period. Later years, in addition to the many other historical eras of Japanese history, the addition of complex curved blades with side grips and different markings became more common.


The word “tachi” means a four-foot length sword.

The name for this length of the weapon came about due to how these words could be used in a parrying style. The blade would be held between the hands, ready to parry any strike made by the enemy. The Japanese swords were primarily used in a parrying style and due to the flat edge that they had, it was difficult for them to slice or thrust. These swords were also known to have a hard rubberized outer edge, which was specially made for cutting into soft layers of wood or cloth. This edge also assisted in ensuring that the warrior could thrust powerfully, as it helped to absorb and deflect any strikes made against them.


The shape of the blade has evolved significantly throughout the years.

The most popularly used among the early swords were simple, flat blades with a hilt on top. However, as time progressed, the design of the Japanese swords has changed drastically. The katana became a short, curved sword, much like a halberd, while the makiwara, or long-handled sword, was longer and heavier. The katana and makiwara are the two main varieties of Japanese swords that are still used today.


The shaping of the blades

began to differ from the flat, two-bladed blades seen on earlier swords to more rounded and flat structures. A few swordsmiths created blades with unique convex edges, which are concave on the face of the blade, giving it a distinctively unique shape. These swords were dubbed as sori, or long knives, and could be used in almost any situation. One particular type of sori is the Wakizashi. It had a blade that was only two feet long when it was created, but it has come to be used as a one-handed sword.


The yacht, the shorter sword

came into being after the creation of the katana. The tachi had a slightly smaller blade than the katana. Despite its size, the cache still had great ability, being a deadly force capable of defeating bigger weapons. The name tachi came from the phrase, ‘eight blades’ – eight separate blades which were held together by a single grip, just like the katana.

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