There are many types of Japanese swords, or nihonto, available today. Both antique swords as well as modern versions can be purchased. Some modern Japanese swords are manufactured, but the authentic swords are made by swordsmiths. The various types of Japanese swords are classified according to the size of the sword 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. These swords were used by the samurai as early as the 1400’s. Samurai were Japanese warriors in feudal Japan and were considered to be a nobility military class. Samurai used a variety of weapons, including spears and bow and arrows, but they are most well-known for their use of the sword, particularly the katana.
A ninjato is a sword that was commonly used by Japanese ninja. Ninja were specially trained stealthy warriors that used unconventional war techniques, such as assassination, sabotage, and martial arts. The original ninjato was shorter than the samurai katana. The typical ninjanto was a short sword with a handle the length of a katana. The scabbard was also comparable to a katana scabbard, making it longer than necessary to store the katana. This led the opponent to believe that the ninja’s sword was longer than it actually was and to the miscalculation of how long it would take the ninja to draw the sword. The blade of the early ninjatos was slightly curved. Modern ninjato swords, however, are straight and usually have a square hand guard.
Japanese, and specifically ninja, swords are often purchased as decorative items.
The quality of the sword is not necessarily a factor when the sword will only be used as a show piece. If you are buying a ninja sword for use in training or competition, however, there are three things you need to be particularly aware of.
1. The heat treatment of a sword during manufacture determines the strength of the blade. Improper heat treatment can cause a ninja sword blade to be too soft and this can cause the blade to dent very easily. Verify that the blade was manufactured according to standards.
2. The ninja sword must be properly balanced. A sword that is not balanced correctly will not allow the user to control the sword as needed.
3. Check to make sure the ninja sword handle and blade are forged together. This will create a stronger sword.
So, whether you are in the market for an authentic sword or a replica keep these 3 in mind whether checking them out in a local store or on the internet.
Troy Macraft is the Chief Editor for The MMA Zone. Troy has been in the martial arts since he was 3 and now is a black belt in 6 different styles including ninjitsu and ninja weapons. If you enjoyed this article about the ninja and would like to read more about ninja swords go to The MMA Zone.