Classification of Katana According to Shape

By  //  July 2, 2022

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Swords made in Japan using the ancient techniques fall in the category of Katana (Samurai Sword) in general. Depending on size, the most viable classification is Katana (Tachi, Uchigatana), Wakizashi, and Tanto. The terms “Toko (sword artisan),” “Tosho (sword master),” and “Katana kaji” terminology refer to sword makers (swordsmith).

Many of them get recognition as works of art due to their gorgeous shape, which has symbolic importance in addition to their function as a weapon since ancient times. Treasure swords (like the Amenomurakumono tsurugi) are prized as symbols of authority by ancient and unbroken lines, including the Imperial family and shrines.

They also served as a pillar of spiritual culture, serving as the military government’s counterpoint to “the very essence of the samurai.” The Toshin (blade body) and Nakago (core) are united through the folding and forging of two metals: hard, brittle steel and soft iron. The Nakago has mekugi holes (to attach the blade’s body to the handle’s Tsuka with pin fasteners).

Scaling The Ability of Katana

It is believed that Katana’s manufacturing technique was devised primarily to concurrently achieve the three opposing qualities of “not to shatter, not bend, and sharply cut.” Modern metallurgy refers to “not break and not bend” as “compatibility of strength and tenacity,” Structural material enhancement research is still being conducted day and night because even a tiny amount of trouble-saving throws off the compatibility equation.

Imperceptible flaws can make a sword easily breakable, as demonstrated by the description above, demonstrating how the optimal state is realized throughout the entire blade. Additionally, it can be challenging to reconcile “sharply cut” with “not break.” That has been made possible by the so-called functionally-gradated structure, which has a hard cutting edge that gradually becomes softer toward the core, creating compressive residual stress there.

The best Katana will be cut by the weight of a sheet of paper if you drop one on it. But a Katana used properly is referred to as “the strongest cutting tool in the world,” and for a good cause. Everywhere it is told how sharp Katana is. The Dotanuki group headed by Kenkichi SAKAKIBARA is noted for their “Kabuto-wari” (helmet splitting) with Katana.

Due to its more oversized handle than other swords, the Katana is not exceptionally light compared to its blade length. However, it is one of the lightest swords designed for two-handed use. Initially, a katana was used to “cut off.” However, because the sword is light, it must slide and pull when cutting so that the direction of force is applied at a right angle against the item to cut.

For the same reason, a sword is sharpened in the direction of a kitchen knife when being prepared to “cut and kill” (similar to the way to handle a double-edged sword). From the Kofun until the Nara periods in history, when swords were divided into ceremonial and practical uses, “Keito Tachi” and “Kurozukuri-no Tachi” were only used for “cutting off.”

Classification According to Shape

Uchigatana

The Katana of this style has an average shape, a bent blade, and various pieces, including the Tsuka, Tsuba, and Seppa. The word “Katana” alone typically refers to Uchigatana. According to the current classification, Wakizashi refers to swords with blade lengths of 60 cm or longer (measured directly from Kissaki (point) to Mune-machi (notch in the rear).

Tachi

The structure is nearly identical to the Uchigatana, but Tachi is hung with the blade downward for carrying, and the Koshirae (fittings) are also different. Uchigatana is carried with the blade facing upward by fastening a belt. Many of them have elaborate decorations on the Tsuka (handle) and Saya (sheath). As was already said, when comparing just the blade, which often has a deep curve, there aren’t many differences.

Wakizashi

That is a short-bladed uchigatana (or tachi). Those with a blade length between 30 and 60 cm are classified today. Kodachi (shorter Tachi) or Naga-wakizashi are specific names for Wakizashi with blades nearly 60 cm long (longer Wakizashi).

Odachi

Long-bladed uchigatana (or tachi) Nodachi is another name (field Tachi). It was too long to cling (or hang) at the waist. Therefore it was carried on the back of the shoulder. The most popular method was to use the horse’s weight to chop while riding.

Kenukigata Tachi

Nakago (core), which doubles as a Tsuka in Tachi (long sword) (handle), existed while straight swords were transitioning to curved swords.

Kogarasumaru

From Hamachi (edge notch) to Monouchi (strike point), it has Shinogi-zukuri (ridged style), while Kissaki (point) has a style that is more akin to Moroha-zukuri (double edge style). It is also somewhat curved. It existed while straight swords were transitioning to curved swords.

Tanto

According to the current classification, one with a blade shorter than 30 cm. The term “Sunnobi (extended length)” refers to a sword that is longer than 30 cm and is made in the Hira-zukuri style with a little bend.

Nagamaki

Tsuka (handle) is nearly the same length as the blade on an odachi (extremely long sword). It evolved from “Nakamaki,” which means “middle roll” in Japanese, and was made more straightforward to handle by lengthening the Tsuka of Odachi. The Tsuka is either made long from the start or by extending a standard Odachi, which is the difference between Nagamaki and Nakamaki. As in its original design, the weapon at Shoso-in (the treasure house of Todai-Ji temple) has a long handle.

Naginata

A weapon like the uchigatana or tachi has an extended grip and a curved blade. Despite having a similar appearance to Nagamaki, there are some competing stories on how it came to be.

Shikomi Katana

A concealed weapon can appear to be something other than a sword by hiding the blade. There are primarily two types: one concealed as a commodity and a two-step weapon created by adding a little blade to another weapon. The blade is thinner and more brittle than other Katana because it prioritizes “how easy it is to hide” over “how strong.”