The iaitō (居合刀)[ additional citation(s) needed ] is a modern metal practice sword, without a cutting edge, used primarily for practicing iaido.
A real (sharp) katana is called a shinken ( 真 剣 , lit., real sword). In contrast to shinken, iaitō have no cutting edge and are designed for iai/battō practice and are usually unsuited for sword-to-sword contact. These should not be confused with other fake swords, which are primarily made for decorative reasons and generally unsafe for martial arts practice.
Most iaitō are made of an aluminium-zinc alloy which is cheaper and lighter than steel. This use of alloy and a blunt edge also avoids the Japanese legal restrictions on the manufacture of swords made of ferrous metals. As such, Japanese-made iaitō are intended as practice weapons and are not suited for any type of contact. The best alloy blades are rather faithful reproductions of real swords with authentic weight and shape along with similarly high-quality finish and fittings. (刃文, lit., blade pattern, the temper line of a tempered steel blade). The average weight for a real katana (打刀) is typically 1,200 g without the scabbard while a typical alloy iaitō is roughly 820 g. Some steel iaitō are also constructed and can weigh around 900–950 g for a 74 cm blade.[ citation needed ]Iaitō may even have a mock hamon
Some imitation Japanese swords are made in countries other than Japan. They may even be made of folded steel, much like a real katana, but with a blunt edge. Such weapons would face the same use and ownership restrictions in Japan as genuine swords, and would not be called iaitō in Japan.
First iaitō were made after the Second World War, to permit people without means to own a real sword, to have a tool for their practice of modern budo. Iaito are produced by specialized workshops not in direct relations with shinken swordsmiths.
Some dōjō in Japan recommend that only alloy blades be used for practicing iaidō until the practitioner's skill is consistent enough to safely use a sharp-edged sword, [ citation needed ] Some iaidō schools may require a practitioner to start with a shinken right away,[ citation needed ] while other schools prohibit the use of a shinken altogether.[ citation needed ]
The matching of iaitō length, weight, and balance to the practitioner's build and strength is of utmost importance to safely and correctly perform the iaidō forms (kata). Due to the repetition involved in the practicing of iaidō, iaitō are often constructed with the balance point of the blade being set farther from the blade's point (kissaki) and closer to the guard ( tsuba ) than other blades.[ citation needed ]
The Act for Controlling the Possession of Firearms or Swords and Other Such Weaponsestablished in Japan in 1958, forbid the possession, production and importation of any sharpened (or sharpenable) sword. Very few exceptions to this rule exists, but notably the exception of the traditional Japanese swordsmith allowed to produce a restricted number of blades. The Japanese swordsmiths have a special status and the weapons they made are considered work of art rather than weapons. (This also explains why nihontō exported outside Japan must go through a declassification process before their exportation.)
A bokken is a Japanese wooden sword used for training in kenjutsu. It is usually the size and shape of a katana, but is sometimes shaped like other swords, such as the wakizashi and tantō. Some ornamental bokken are decorated with mother-of-pearl work and elaborate carvings. Sometimes it is spelled "boken" in English.
A Japanese sword is one of several types of traditionally made swords from Japan. Bronze swords were made as early as the Yayoi period, though most people generally refer to the curved blades made after the Heian period when speaking of "Japanese swords". There are many types of Japanese swords that differ by size, shape, field of application and method of manufacture. Some of the more commonly known types of Japanese swords are the katana, tachi, odachi, wakizashi, and tantō.
A tachi (太刀) was a type of traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto) worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. Tachi and katana generally differ in length, degree of curvature, and how they were worn when sheathed, the latter depending on the location of the mei, or signature, on the tang. The tachi style of swords preceded the development of the katana, which was not mentioned by name until near the end of the twelfth century. Tachi were the mainstream Japanese swords of the Kotō period between 900 and 1596. Even after the Muromachi period (1336–1573), when katana became the mainstream, tachi were often worn by high-ranking samurai.
The jian is a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. The first Chinese sources that mention the jian date to the 7th century BCE, during the Spring and Autumn period; one of the earliest specimens being the Sword of Goujian. Historical one-handed versions have blades varying from 45 to 80 centimeters in length. The weight of an average sword of 70-centimetre (28-inch) blade-length would be in a range of approximately 700 to 900 grams. There are also larger two-handed versions used for training by many styles of Chinese martial arts.
A tantō is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto) that were worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The tantō dates to the Heian period, when it was mainly used as a weapon but evolved in design over the years to become more ornate. Tantō were used in traditional martial arts (tantojutsu). The term has seen a resurgence in the West since the 1980s as a point style of modern tactical knives, designed for piercing or stabbing.
A Japanese kitchen knife is a type of a knife used for food preparation. These knives come in many different varieties and are often made using traditional Japanese blacksmithing techniques. They can be made from stainless steel, or hagane, which is the same kind of steel used to make Japanese swords. Most knives are referred to as hōchō or the variation -bōchō in compound words but can have other names including -kiri. There are four general categories used to distinguish the Japanese knife designs: handle, blade grind, steel, and construction.
The ōdachi (大太刀) or nodachi is a type of traditionally made Japanese sword used by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The Chinese equivalent of this type of sword in terms of weight and length is the miao dao, and the Western battlefield equivalent is the longsword or claymore.
Shinken is a Japanese sword that has a sharp forged blade; the word is used in contrast with bokken and shinai.
The chokutō is a straight, single-edged Japanese sword that was produced prior to the 9th century. Its basic style is likely derived from similar swords of ancient China. Chokutō were used on foot for stabbing or slashing and were worn hung from the waist. Until the Heian period such swords were called tachi (大刀), which should not be confused with tachi written as 太刀 referring to curved swords.
In martial arts, a waster is a practice weapon, usually a sword, and usually made out of wood, though nylon (plastic) wasters are also available. The use of wood or nylon instead of metal provides an economic and safe option for initial weapons training and sparring, at some loss of genuine experience. A weighted waster may be used for a sort of strength training, making the movements of using an actual sword comparatively easier and quicker. Wasters as wooden practice weapons have been found in a variety of cultures over a number of centuries, including ancient China, Ireland, Iran, Scotland, Rome, Egypt, medieval and renaissance Europe, Japan, and into the modern era in Europe and the United States. Over the course of time, wasters took a variety of forms not necessarily influenced by chronological succession, ranging from simple sticks to clip-point dowels with leather basket hilts to careful replicas of real swords.
Korean swords have served a central place in the defense of the nation for thousands of years. Although typical Korean land battles have taken place in wide valleys and narrow mountain passes, which favor use of the spear and bow, the sword found use as a secondary, close-quarters weapon, especially useful during sieges and ship-to-ship boarding actions. Higher quality, ceremonial swords were typically reserved for the officer corps as a symbol of authority with which to command the troops. Ceremonial swords are still granted to military officials by the civilian authority to this day.
Sword making, historically, has been the work of specialized smiths or metalworkers called bladesmiths or swordsmiths. Swords have been made of different materials over the centuries, with a variety of tools and techniques. While there are many criteria for evaluating a sword, generally the four key criteria are hardness, strength, flexibility and balance. Early swords were made of copper, which bends easily. Bronze swords were stronger; by varying the amount of tin in the alloy, a smith could make various parts of the sword harder or tougher to suit the demands of combat service. The Roman gladius was an early example of swords forged from blooms of steel.
Japanese sword mountings are the various housings and associated fittings (tosogu) that hold the blade of a Japanese sword when it is being worn or stored. Koshirae (拵え) refers to the ornate mountings of a Japanese sword used when the sword blade is being worn by its owner, whereas the shirasaya is a plain undecorated wooden mounting composed of a saya and tsuka that the sword blade is stored in when not being used.
An uchigatana (打刀) is a type of Japanese sword worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The uchigatana was the descendant of the tachi.
The katana sword appears in many folk tales as well as legends. This piece of Japanese history not only appears in old folklore, it is also very popular in modern fiction as well as contemporary art pieces such as film and theater. The katana has reached far and wide in the world of fictional stories and can be used to tell tales of wisdom and bravery or evil and treachery. The sword can be seen not only as a tool for the hero but also a tool for the villain.
Bladesmithing is the art of making knives, swords, daggers and other blades using a forge, hammer, anvil, and other smithing tools. Bladesmiths employ a variety of metalworking techniques similar to those used by blacksmiths, as well as woodworking for knife and sword handles, and often leatherworking for sheaths. Bladesmithing is an art that is thousands of years old and found in cultures as diverse as China, Japan, India, Germany, Korea, the Middle East, Spain and the British Isles. As with any art shrouded in history, there are myths and misconceptions about the process. While traditionally bladesmithing referred to the manufacture of any blade by any means, the majority of contemporary craftsmen referred to as bladesmiths are those who primarily manufacture blades by means of using a forge to shape the blade as opposed to knifemakers who form blades by use of the stock removal method, although there is some overlap between both crafts.
Japanese swordsmithing is the labour-intensive bladesmithing process developed in Japan for forging traditionally made bladed weapons (nihonto) including katana, wakizashi, tantō, yari, naginata, nagamaki, tachi, nodachi, ōdachi, kodachi, and ya (arrow).
A katana is a Japanese sword characterized by a curved, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands. Developed later than the tachi, it was used by samurai in feudal Japan and worn with the blade facing upward. Since the Muromachi period, many old tachi were cut from the root and shortened, and the blade at the root was crushed and converted into katana. The official term for katana in Japan is uchigatana (打刀) and the term katana (刀) often refers to single-edged swords from around the world.
Katanagatari is a Japanese light novel series written by Nisio Isin and illustrated by Take. The series is published by Kodansha under the Kodansha Box imprint. The story revolves around a katanagari, or "sword hunt" for 12 weapons that were created by a single swordsmith. An anime adaptation by White Fox began airing on January 26, 2010, and consisted of 12 episodes. A single episode of the series was aired each month. NIS America have licensed the series and released the first part on a Blu-ray/DVD combo set in July 2011. Part two was released on September 20, 2011. The anime series aired once more on Fuji TV's noitamina between April and November 2013 as the block's first rerun, with a new opening and a new ending song.
This is the glossary of Japanese swords, including major terms the casual reader might find useful in understanding articles on Japanese swords. Within definitions, words set in boldface are defined elsewhere in the glossary.