The Katana Sword - Its unquestionable superiority as a weapon and its history

 




The Introduction


The battlefield of yesteryear was ruled by the sword. And, no sword in history holds as much distinction as the Katana sword revered by the Samurai. The Samurai were fierce warriors famed for their iron armor and their sleek, razor-sharp blades designed for precision and a swift kill.


However, these iconic blades were not always quite as perfect as they are today. So, let's take a look at the beginnings of the katana of the legendary Samurai.


The History Of The Katana


The early Katana took its inspiration from the Chinese swords. Hence, it was a straight double-edged sword. But, many learned swordsmiths noticed that the Samurai who battled with the Mongolian invaders would return with broken swords.


The exact point in time when the Katana evolved into a single-edged longsword is unknown. But, according to legend, Amakuni was the swordsmith from the Yamato Province in Japan, in 700 AD who forged the Katana with curvature and made it a single-edged blade.


The name of the sword comes from two old Japanese written characters or symbols. The word, 'kata, means side. And, 'na,' means edge. Thus, you have a single-edged sword that is peerless in the epics of war.


Of course, the Samurai carried more than one weapon. There is the Katana and then the warriors had the 'wakizashi' that literally means 'little sword.' Together they made up the 'daisho'. The Japenese men-at-arms carried other weapons too. But, around the 16th century, when Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan, only the Samurai could carry swords.


Thus, the elite members of the Japanese military, who formerly were the horseback archers, began to follow the 'Bushido,' which means 'way of the warrior.' And, the honor was such that the sword was considered to be the extension of the Samurai's soul. 


Therefore, when a child was born, destined to follow the path of the Samurai, the sword was brought into the birthing room to be introduced to the baby, very much like a family member. Moreover, at the death of a Samurai, the sword was laid by the warrior's body, too.


The Katana was the blade to be used on the battlefield, slicing up the enemy with one clean stroke. The Wakizashi had far more intrinsic value than the Katana. The Samurai slept with the Wakizashi under their pillows. It was used in close quarters or to claim the head of an honored opponent. And, it was a part of the sacred hara-kiri or seppuku, where the warrior committed suicide by disemboweling himself.


It may all sound all too fantastical, but the life of the Samurai was the epitome of perfection, where every single movement on the part of the Samurai was equal to worship. And, the most essential of such a life was the Samurai's sword.


So, continue to read up the intricacies that went into the forging of the Japanese warrior's weapon.


The Craftsmanship That Was Part Of The Katana


Making the Katana was not the job of a simple-minded ironworker. The skill and expertise that was an integral part of the Katana required a master of ingenuity, refinement, and discipline. It is rumored that the swordmasters of the Katana were parallel in their art to celebrated artists such as Raphael or Michelangelo.


The sword was so venerated and vital to the Samurai that the process of the forging only began after Shinto priests would bless the beginning of the process. Moreover, the swordsmith would also go through a spiritual purification process to start making the sword. 


Inazo Nitobe, in his work, Busiho: The Warrior's Code, states that the swordsmith 'committed his soul and spirit into the forging and tempering of the steel.'


The concept was to make a blade that would be both strong and sharp. If the swordmaster used only iron then the blade would be strong but not have a razor-sharp edge. And, if only steel would be used then the blade would not sustain the ferocity of battle.


Thus, a craftsman by the name of Masamune used four metal bars - the iron bars to prevent the blade from breaking and a steel bar to give the blade its whetted edge. These bars were melted at high temperatures, laboriously hammered, folded, and welded several times to create a sword with flexibility and integrity.


It was this process that gave the Japanese swords a multilayered structure with a more flexible, lower carbon steel encased in an outer surface that was exceptionally durable.


After the smith was done, the blade was sent to the sharpener and then the polisher. They used grades of stones with water to achieve a piercingly sharp and gleaming blade. Once more, the blade was turned over to the sword maker who finished with engraving as well as the maker's signature.


Such masterpieces of art, efficiency, and skillful ingenious were not handed out to random Tom, Dick, and Harry. A Samurai had to earn his sword and study how to handle the Samurai sword with excellence.  You can read more at katanasforsale.com.




The Art Of Sword Fighting


The art of sword fighting with a Japanese blade is called Kenjutsu. The Samurai not only learned how to wield the sword but also the proper way to carry it. Thus, the Diasho - the two swords were worn sharp side up so that the Samurai would remove the sword from its scabbard and kill his enemy in a single fluid movement. 


Kenjutsu incorporated elements of Zen Buddhism. According to the Zen way, the sword was a part of the warrior’s unconscious being, where thought and action were one. 


It then makes sense why the Japanese swords of history as well as those that are forged today are not considered as mere weapons, rather works of art.


In Conclusion


The Japanese sword is the stuff that makes myths and legends. Yet, the proficiency and expertise of the skills that go into making a katana sword are not fictional at all. 


In today's times, the skills and materials used are far superior to those that existed centuries ago. Thus, you'll find katana sword is even more beautiful and deadly than before. And, if you don't believe us, try to take a look at one from a closer angle to believe the superiority of the Japanese swords.


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