The Japanese Katana is known as one of the deadliest edged weapons originating from Oriental cultures, perhaps through western movies and culture, but rightfully also through the hundreds of thousands who have died by its edge.
The origins of the Katana are somewhat unclear; however, it is commonly attributed to a mixture of both Chinese and Japanese craftsmanship. Some people will tell you one thing, other will insist on the opposite. There is a lot of evidence the Katana was introduced to Japan from China, although in a early form.
The term Samurai, commonly used to describe the members of the Japanese warrior class during the 15th-19th centuries, is often associated with the Katana sword, as in feudal Japan anyone else was prohibited from using them. This deadly sword is a natural evolution of craftsmanship: starting as a hefty “greatsword”, and changing with time into a more agile, lighter blade which was required in faster battles. The Katana is often distinguished from many other swords by the fact that it sits blade edge (Ha in Japanese) up in its sheath, allowing the warrior to draw the Katana and slice his opponent with a single motion. In fact the art of drawing and cutting the Katana is known as Iaido
History of the Katana
The familiar version of the Katana sword first began to appear in the Muromachi period of Japanese history, 1392-1573 AD. The Japanese history of edged weapon craftsmanship stretches back over 2,000 years. This relatively small island nation is a historically renowned home to some of the finest weapon-smiths since its rise to political and military power.
The use of a Katana is commonly used in Jujitsu training, to complement the unarmed nature of the martial art – in fact there are many Jujitsu sensei who will tell you Jujitsu was used as a ‘backup’ for armed soldiers when their blade was lost or broken in combat. At its inception, Jujitsu was a strictly “no weapons” method of combat, concentrating on domination of the opponent. However, modern day practitioners often attempt to gain proficiency with both fighting styles.
While the Katana is no longer used for military purposes (it was however well into the first world war!), it carries heavy ceremonial and historical importance in Japanese culture, much like the Japanese Jujitsu fighting style.
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