Katana

Katanas are a type of Japanese sword, but nowadays the term is internationally used to talk about all Japanese swords in general. They are considered as the best swords ever created, they have a curved shape and they are many different types and sizes.

Strictly talking a katana has around 70 cm, the longest ones are called tachi and were used by cavalry. The short versions are called wakizashi and kodachi, which are equivalent to our daggers. Samurais where equiped with a katana for the face to face fights and a short wakizashi to kill by surprise without being seen.


This is a katana forged 900 years ago by Sanjo Munechika, and is one of the oldest katanas in the National Museum (Ueno Station at Tokyo

It can be appreciated how dedicated, simple and well done were the Japanese tools on those times while at Europe we had huge and rough swords.

Nowadays katanas are created by some artists, people from the Mukansa clan seem to be the best. Two of the Musakansa family members are Living National Treasures selected by the Japanese Government.

If you wanna by a katana, you can find average katanas at some hidden shops at Asakusa (Tokyo). I took one video inside of one of those shops.

Next, some videos were the sharpness of the katana edge can be appreciated.


At this last video there is a little explanation about how katanas are made.

15 Replies to “Katana”

  1. Hi Héctor! The video from the bottle is awesome. I had already seen it in the Spanish blog version. Still, nice one.

    Llevo más de dos años enganchado a tu blog casi a diario (mi novia está harta de que le hable del “tío ese de Japón”), también desde que me piré de España como tú, pero nunca había comentado. Pero es que el otro día conocí a tu amigo Albert en la ESA, la verdad es que le reconocí de tu blog y fue un cachondeo. Eres un crack, tío, ¡suerte y sigue así!

    Prostata: si te molesta que escriba en castellano aquí borra el comentario.

  2. Luca, you’re an idiot.

    1 – different sword techniques
    2 – western euro. armor is too thick for slashing weapons
    3 – the knight has the advantage of a shield
    4 – medieval swords were too thick and heavy and could break after repeated smashings against another sword
    5 – you’re just a silly nerd

  3. I really like the egg test 🙂 The katana on the first video looks like a cheap “made in china” thing…of course it’s hard to tell from this little clip.

  4. HAHHAHa euro armor has some gaps. Samurai can move faster and with a good thrust with a katana it can rip up a limb. Plush the katana can be use for defense too

  5. Well, Europeon Knights are by no means a match for Samurais….Not only In Grace, but speed and Power of Slashes….as a matter of fact, it is proven that a Katana is the most temperate Sword around!!

  6. @Lucas – be careful what you wish for : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDV5fontZbc

    @John – take that broomstick out of your **** ! This is actually a very relevant question, just as much as the trendy pirateVSninja hypothetical fight.

    …Although for me it is very clear that, 1 on 1, the clumsy armored knight gets his *** kicked lightning-quick.
    It gets really interesting if you imagine a battle between whole armies, though ! ^^

  7. WOW! That is amazing… I’ve also heard of someone dropping a piece of paper onto the blade of a Katana (on the flat side) and it just being cut under its own weight.

  8. Isn’t Mukansa a “rank” given to the swordsmith by the government? I thought that Mukansa was “without competition”, or “not submitted” or somesuch, not a clan. Are you talking about someone specific here?

  9. I was just wondering if Musashi Miyamoto’s actual sword is kept in any museums or private collections?

  10. A samurai & a knight face off & who’d win? In a army battle anything goes, but in a duel it depends on circumstances & skill. Personally, I’d bet on the samurai. They’re aren’t as encumbered by heavy armor and least likely to tire first. What’s more their training won’t have them strike unless they’re sure of victory (so whle the poor knight is trying to hack his nimble enemy to pieces, the samurai is spotting all of his opponents weak points). What’s more, there’s a very good chance that the knight would be disarmed before he ever drew blood.

    Samurai came from the very same era as the sickle & chain (aka kusari-gama) and the martial art ai kido (both of which were designed to pull the sword out of the enemy’s hands). There’s also something called a sword-breaker- so have fun with this.

  11. If you think that a knight in armor is clumsy, try wearing a riveted mail hauberk (no gaps) vs a full period set of japanese armor.
    Two, the katana thrust needs to be pretty squared up to make it thought the mail, and it isn’t a great thrusting point. That doesn’t happen very often. In an edge shot, the mail just laughs at it. If the Katana was so great at cutting through metal with what now-adays is still a pretty primitive mild steel (and no better than medieval crucible steel or Wootz steel such as in an Ulfbercht or Toledo weapon (much less a rapier or epee…which were contemporaries) I would have a katana in my toolbox instead of a SawsAll.
    Three, Japanese never fought a foreign army….and the Buddhists rebels in Japan had no problem holding off those mighty katanas. The Mongols were defeated by typhoons in both invasions, not the katana.
    Four, there are NO accounts of any particular outcome of a battle being due to the katana. It DID come up against metal armors throughout it’s history, which was a good reason for the bow, and NOT the sword to be the primary weapon of the Samurai.
    Five, tactics that were already archaeic in Europe, such as the cavalry charge came only in the Edo period (long after the flintlock musket). Guns and arrows had trumped swords for a long time in Japan.
    Six, Two lines of melee infantry: One set uf superman Japanese Roboknights armed with single sword or a florentine combo like katana and wakazashi and in full armor vs. the other side’s weekend warriors armed with *any* shortsword and heater/kite type shields and decent helmets (no other armor) will push the Samurai over with their shield wall, and have time to do perverted things with them before charging the archers…We actually call this “doing a Number Six” in the SCA.

    A few last things: The katana has good balance ONLY if used in two hands. Frankly, I find it slow as crap compared to a bastard sword that uses a counterbalance on the pommel. Argue the metal contruction all you want, I have swung weapons that are compositionally balanced the same as a “real” katana. The mass is evenly distributed. A good edge weapon has good tip mass, counterbalanced with the pommel. This gives it what we call a “sweet spot”. Same mass as a katana, but the mass is distributed differently. You can smack the HELL out of something with a short sword. Wanna test it? Set up a force meter, then compare a katana’s impact to that of a longsword. No comparison at all. Neither one slicing through mail and a gambeson, but the hard hitter can deflect the edge of a shield and let you get a little tip smack into someone’s face or neck to do the job.
    If you really want to form an opinion, feel free to come and play with us: http://www.sca.org/geography/findsca.html
    We will let you see just how “clumsy and unskilled” European fighters were. Be prepared to change all your opinions about ninjas and Samurai and learn to respect the shield and spear. You will come to grips with why the Mongols could have snuffed anyone they wanted to (of course they never actually hit the forests, archers, and heavy cavalry of Western Europe). Why the Samurai and not the Kubudai? Answer: Anime!

  12. Aethelwulffe you know nothing about the Samurai, first the Samurai did fight a foreign army, they invaded Korea in the 1500s, they did fight the mongols, it was not just the typhoons, they wen’t out on boats and killed some on there ships, held them off and did not run. Second, the bow was there main weapon yes, until they started fighting more on foot, then it became the sword. Your making them out to be pretty bad warriors, they were NOT, the were very skilled, look at the Shimazu clan of Kogoshima, the were some of the best Samurai around, just look at the Satsuma rebellion. Oh and I also hate Anime, I like the real Samurai and Shinobi not that fake ass crap. Your so biased. I am not saying the knight coud not kill a Samurai, the knight was very skilled too, I enjoy reading about them too, but I hate people saying that the Samurai were crap warriors.

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