28
Apr
07

The Longest Sword

Now we’ve talked about massive swords, combat worthy swords, transformer swords, even ghost busting swords. Now we get to talk about the longest freakin’ sword in the history of swords. at least in the history of fictitious swords. Until they began manufacturing them. At which point they became real swords. Based on a fictitious sword, from the (you guessed it!) Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children movie. which means that it doesn’t count. Which doesn’t matter because it’s still not “Da longenesest sword evah.” Confused yet? Good. Cause I’m messin’ wit you.

To my knowledge, the longest real sword ever made, at almost 76in overall, is the Japanese Ôdachi called the Kashiwa Tachi. AKA The Yamagane Tsukuri Kokushitsu Hirumaki Ôdachi. AKA “Da Longenest Japanese Sword in da Werlds. Evar.” Ok so it’s really not called that. But it should be:

Kashiwa Tachi
[clicky]

Yep. Now that’s a sword. And, fittingly, it’s name is equally long. What is it with the long names for long swords? I don’t get it. Anyway, a sword like this would probably be useless for anything but ceremony or decorating a wall, but there it is.

But that isn’t why we are here today. Were here to see a fictitious sword brought to life. Even though with real swords like the Kashiwa Tachi Ôdachi in existence, it’s almost a let down. Almost.

Welcome to the almost interminable expanse of steel that is

Sephiroths Masamune Sword

Sephiroths Masamune

[Click image to view full size]

Now this sword is not as large as the Kashiwa Tachi, but at 68in long, with a 50in blade, it’s no slouch either. This will definitely reach out and touch someone. And not in a nice way either. You could probably cut down a small tree with this. With a single cut. If you could actually wield it. Not likely for mere mortals such as you and I…

Sephiroths Masamune Ôdachi – [True Swords]

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21 Responses to “The Longest Sword”


  1. 1 Uchemom
    May 2, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Why would anyone weild a sword taller than themselves? I can’t imagine that it would be easy to use, i dont care how skilled one might be!

  2. May 3, 2007 at 2:40 am

    Nope, not a practical sword at all. Now Of course in the Video Game Sephiroth was artificially created, genetically modified being with superhuman strength, so it wouldn’t have been a problem for him.

    But I found out that in real life, historically, these swords were the medieval equivalent of the modern day concept car. Swords designed to showcase the abilities of the maker, as an offering to gods, or as a ritual or status symbol.

    The shorter Odachi (shorter than a person) were sometimes used in battle against mounted opponents, more like a naginata (long spear) and there are records of the larger Odachi also being used against calvary charges, though they were often wielded by two people.

  3. 3 angel of stuff
    September 14, 2007 at 4:06 am

    i’ve been training in sword use since i was lets see… about 9 which is 12 years and i got pretty darn good with a naginata approximatly 7 ft tall. course i got long arms but still if you practice ou would be surprised at what you can do. and ancient swords were not any heavier than wood versions if made properly. look it up on wikipedia.com ^.^

  4. September 14, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Angel, I’m sure you are quite adept with the naginata, however wielding a naginata and wielding a Katana/Odachi are completely different things. No matter how long your arms are 🙂

    A naginata gives you lots of handle to play with. It’s a “live” two handed weapon, with the benefit of being able to be “choked up” on when necessary for close-in work. An Odachi is all blade. “Choking up”, while possible, could be equally hazardous to the wielder as it would be to the opponent.

    I really don’t think naginata skills would translate very well to one of these super Odachi. 0.o In fact, given practical Sword design history, these lengthy Odachi actually run counter to the fundamental design basics for swords in general.

    I’m not saying that no one could ever learn how to wield one, just that they would really not be practical individual melee weapons on the battlefield against things like regular katanas or naginatas… You’re gonna have to just trust me on this one. 🙂

  5. 5 Niccolo
    April 26, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Yeah… that’s why these ridiculously long things were restrained to a downwards chop, side-swipe or variant therein – the side-swipe being deadly to everybody around you, not just your opponent. The longer nodachi – your ridiculously long sword at the top is one such beast – typically could be used by a horseman, who could make an excellent use of the extended length. Or, alternatively, it could be used by a footsoldier to attack a horseman.

  6. April 29, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Actually there is medieval art that shows odachi being used by two foot soldiers against mounted forces. It is unlikely that these were ever used as a single persons weapon, as they are incredibly unwieldy. I seriously doubt that even a downward chop could be effectively controlled by a single person in the middle of a battlefield…

  7. 7 Brad
    May 3, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Actually I hate to burst SEVERAL bubbles here, but i have a few things to say.

    Number one: There is/was an EVEN LONGER sword than what is shown up top. King Of Swords used to sell it. It was called the ‘Sephiroth Masamune: 108″‘. The name says it all, because in game (Final Fantasy VII to be precise) Sephiroth’s sword-Masamune is it’s name-is 8’11” long-108″ if you say it without the conversion to feet. So not only does/did such a sword exist, it was accurate to the game. Oh, but for all intents and purposes I have NOT been able to find it again. KoS took down their FF weapons section which is a crying shame because it had some nice swords from practically ALL of the FF series games.

    Number two: I have no experience beyond some mock fights against some friends of mine when it comes to polearms (BTW the Naginata is NOT classed as a Long Spear; it’s a Halberd which means it is for mid-ranged slicing and chopping, not thrusting, although it IS true that it can be used as a spear. The name Naginata MEANS Halberd.) but when it comes to large sword I have much experience. If someone was actually strong enough to lift the 68″-or even the 108″-Masamune up there then killing with it should NOT be a problem. Most players of FF7 will note that Sephiroth uses a lot of spinning movements to slash with his sword. Simple physics folks; get a blade THAT big moving at a good speed and it’ll cut down ANYTHING in it’s path. So just do a lot of spinning and keep the blade out there; anything at the end of that blade is gonna feel it when it takes a hit.

    However, the size of these swords goes against EVERY tenet of Japanese sword styles. European sword styles (I.E. Broadswords and ‘Knight in shining armor’ swords) use their weight to slice through an object. The Katana and other Japanese forged blades use their finely honed cutting edge to cut through things; it’s not about weight, it’s about getting the edge of the blade PERFECTLY PERPENDICULAR to the target and using your mastery of the forms to make the cut (no pun intended). Using those forms one can effortlessly slice through just about anything.

  8. May 3, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Hey Brad,

    Thanks for posting. I actually did find a reference for Sephiroths 108″ Masamune, which I will at some point write a post on, (thanks for the heads up 🙂 ) though based on your (and many others) comments about wielding such a weapon, I think many of you may be misinterpreting some of my terms, while yet other may not fully grasp some of the subtleties of historical battlefield sword fighting.

    To begin with, when I say the longest *real* sword I mean a medieval sword, created and possibly used for battle, not a fantasy sword from a video game, or a collectible replica knife designers imagination.

    In addition, most, if not all of these fantasy video game swords are not battle worthy, nor are they based on any *real* sword, and therefore for the purposes of this blog would not be considered the longest *real* sword ever made.

    Also, I’d like to clarify the meaning of the term *wield* as used in this blog. Being able to pick up and/or swing a sword is not the same thing as *wielding* a sword. When I say *wield* I mean the ability for a weapon to be practically and effectively used by a single person (or multiple people, if that’s what it was designed for) in a battlefield scenario.

    Notwithstanding the fact that the 108″ Masamune is almost certainly not a battle ready sword, I’d point out that, none of the capabilities you have ascribed to a large swinging sword are always true, nor are they practical in a battlefield scenario. A sword like this will NOT always cut down everything in it’s path.

    Even a hefty swing from such a sword CAN be deflected, and the downside of this is that, because of the large recovery time you would need for such a blade, you will be easy fodder for all but the most ponderous counter attack.

    I’d also point out that the moves of a video game are not comparable with that of real life. Sephiroth was superhuman. A regular person, even with a properly constructed blade, cannot replicate a vast majority of the maneuvers performed in these movies and games. So people, please do not reference a video game move as support for your theories on how a blade might be used in real life.

    Please use real life examples. You can look at the historical references for the weapon in question, or even historical art for similar weapons and make reasonable conclusions that way. I’m getting a little weary of people referencing impossible video game moves as support for their position.

    Kthnxbai.

  9. 9 Brad
    May 3, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Thanks for the response, but I have some mild debates with it.

    My apologies for one though. I didn’t realize what you meant by the term ‘real’. I took it as a literal meaning of a physical blade that DOES currently exist, not a blade that is truly practical for use on the battlefield.

    For one thing, what kind of ‘battle’ do you mean? If you mean a pitched battle on a medieval field of combat against somewhat to highly skilled opponents, then yes you are absolutely correct; the 108″ is simply and utterly impractical. No getting around that.

    However I meant a simple one-on-one duel kind of battle. My friends and I occasionally find a good weapon online then perform several duels with it, if we can, pitting it against whatever weapons the other has fared well with in the past. The weapon doesn’t have to be ‘battle-ready’ it simply has to be strong enough to take-and of course, give out-several good hits.

    Also, while your comments on the reality of techniques used in movies and games is true, the fact is that if you are strong enough and have enough to skill to pick up and wield the weapon then you can to the best of your ability duplicate many movements that were simply observed. Such moves as Sephiroth performed in battle-swinging the sword and spinning with it to keep the momentum going-is well within human physical limits. I will NOT ever reference impossible moves as support for my theories, as they are, simply put, IMPOSSIBLE. Sephiroth may have been superhuman, but you wouldn’t know it simply by observing that kind of movement in the game. Anyone with sufficient strength can pick up his sword and use it.

    Also, a well aimed hit from the 108″ CAN still be blocked or deflected, but the simple fact is that blocking such a hit will take SO much effort as to be ridiculous and would most likely completely numb your arm or hand holding the blocking implement. Deflecting it would likewise pose a problem, as the sheer force of deflecting a blade moving at that speed could very likely tear your shield or offhand weapon right out of your grip. In short, the only way to truly deal with such an attack with minimal effort and maximum gain is to dodge it; simply drop below or jump above the slash, depending of course on it’s height, your abilities and your proximity to the user. However, you do speak well and true when you say that a missed or blocked attack from a blade of that size would take too long to recover from.

    These are of course just my opinions, as I have yet to fight with the 108″ (they took down that section of the site before we could purchase it) but I gave the 68″ one a try and found it well within my abilities to fight with, though my preferences run towards twin sword, twin daggers, or shorter but wider swords, such as a Buster sword.

  10. 10 Niccolo
    May 3, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    xD Yeah, one-on-one battles are a totally different ballgame than pitched battles. They allow for more skill, more tactical attacking, more… well, awesomness, I guess, compared to pitched battles like trench warfare or something. Pitched battles you want a fast, hard weapon and the reactions and instincts to match.

  11. May 3, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Hey Brad,

    Actually, I don’t think it really matters what kind of battle one is in. There are some weapons that are just generally impractical in relation to the physical limits of your average human being.

    If you are ever in a 1 on 1 duel with someone else, and you both have the choice of a 108″ blade, and a 40″ blade, why would you pick the 108″ if your opponent picked the 40″ blade? It sounds to me like a bad idea. Whatever advantage a 108″ blade may give you is pointless if it never connects.

    I don’t even have to know how big or strong you may be to know that, because with a 108″ blade, no matter who you are, you will be working much harder than I will be to accomplish the same thing, and doing it slower as well. Now THAT’S physics. Even if I were a small guy, I would have a distinct advantage against you with just a regularly sized Katana.

    All else being equal, it only takes a few pounds of extra weight to give someone a speed advantage over you in a sword fight. And if you were some big hulking dude who swings pick axes all day, I wouldn’t even try to block your strikes, I’d either deflect them or dodge them.

    I don’t know how you deflect sword strikes, but it takes a whole lot less energy to deflect a strike, than it takes for a person to swing a sword that hard. My guess is your parrying technique is flawed. Either way, you won’t be fast enough to recover before I riposte, so whatever advantage you *might* have had will be lost.

    The whole reason I mentioned not bringing movie techniques into the discussion is because it spawns flawed ideas. A typical example is your idea of constantly spinning/swinging/moving the sword around, keeping it out there, because that’s what Sephiroth does?

    That is extremely impractical with a 108″ sword. I’d just let you wear yourself out and then kill you. It just doesn’t work. Not with a sword that big. It’s all good and fine if you are sparring in a field with a friend, but if it’s some heartless fire demon with a flaming whip and sword like me trying to kill you, it’s a whole different story. 😛

    Your adrenaline will be pumping, your heart rate will be up, you’ll be breathing harder, you’ll be expending more energy, I’d just keep baiting you into “keeping it out there” and you will get tired and careless much faster. Not the same thing at all. Unless you are there was some really major disparity in skill and/or size between us, you would not last very long.

    There are there are obviously exceptions, but in general, this is the reason I dislike people mentioning how some move from a character in a videogame should work great in real life…

  12. May 4, 2008 at 10:16 am

    OK… Having read through my response to your post from yesterday, I thought I’d add an addendum. (This isn’t directed at you, Brad, though you inadvertently triggered this post…)

    People, please do not take my responses the wrong way. I’m not trying to give you, or anyone else a hard time, or get on your case, just because you happen to like something you saw in a videogame or movie. I love games and movies and anime, etc. I just do not consider them trustworthy sources of information, and I’m getting tired of arguing against fanboys and video gamers who try to apply video game techniques to real life.

    The focus of this blog, is, as much as possible, reality. Not fantasy, not fiction, not movie magic, or video game mythos, but as much as humanly possible, real life experience, physics, history, aesthetics and practical ramifications of a given weapon design.

    I see too many people who read the subject of my posts and make arguments that are obviously tainted by what they’ve seen in the movies or a video game. Sometimes it’s a conscious action and sometimes it’s subconscious. Many even go so far as to argue with me over the practicality of video game or hollywood physics, or the validity of a fantasy design in comparison with well documented historical ones. Frankly, it’s all getting really old.

    So just for future reference, before you post READ THE RULES. Then think about where you are getting your ideas from before you argue them. It will save both of us a lot of grief.

  13. 13 gothog
    August 28, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    So, according to what I’m reading, most of you out there think that this long sword would be impractical in battle. When in actuality, my training with a similar blade which was only 60 inches has taught me that a blade such as this is suited to be used to protect against cavalry charges for an infantry division that happened to be detached from the spear men who would typically be used to protect from such a charge

  14. August 28, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    @gothog
    I’ve found that there are a lot of practical as well as logistical issues with using a sword like this in a battlefield scenario. But just so I understand what you are thinking, how do you envision something like this being used on the battlefield?

  15. 15 gothog
    August 28, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    with an infantry division of typical samurai wielding their traditional weapons with the exception that the first rank has these absurdly long swords so in the event of a cavalry charge they can easily immobilize the cavalry by literally cutting their legs from beneath them

  16. 16 Niccolo
    August 28, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    That would work… sorta. Like how they used spears to take out horses. But there’s still a lot of sword to manoeuvre.

  17. 17 gothog
    August 28, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    which is why it was more of holding the sword sideways with less of a cutting motion than you would expect, more often than not you would just let the cavalry ride right into your sword sealing their own fate is it were, it is also a perfect sword for being able to use to stab through both the horse and the rider from a kneeling position

  18. August 29, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    OK, I have issues with that scenario.

    The first is, no self respecting calvary would blithely ride into anyones sword. People aren’t blind. If I saw a line of guys out front of the ranks of my opfors with over sized swords, my eyes would be on those freakin’ monster swords. I cannot see how they would miss something like that.

    The second is, if they wanted to repel the calvary, why wouldn’t they just use the spears? They were cheaper, more plentiful, much more flexible, and just as effective, if not more so, against calvary. Why go through all the trouble to make (and carry) both oversized swords, when spears could be used for pretty much the same thing?

    In fact, I think the spear would actually be more useful than the sword on the battlefield, because you can choke up on a spear quite easily. A huge sword like this, on the other hand, just doesn’t have the same grip advantage that a spear does, and would still be slower than a spear, even if you could grip the blade with one hand and use it two handed.

    Not to mention, with a spear, you could just hold that sucker out in front of you, and (assuming we had calvary idiotic enough to do so) they would have to run into it to get at you, whereas with a sword, you would still have to actually have to swing it. Which, given the size of the sword, Would not be a quick or trivial task.

    I just don’t see it.

  19. 19 gothog
    August 29, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Like I said though, it was more of a last resort for an infantry division that would be engaged in melee combat, you know as well as I that if you have your infantry tangled up in a melee, the next step is to break your opponent’s infantry with some sort of shock-troop, more often than not, a cavalry division. Not to mention we are talking about feudal Japan, a place where orders carried more sway than common sense, a commander could order his cavalry to charge not knowing about the swords a he is most likely somewhere in the back or otherwise engaged somewhere on the field. I admit, it is a much more impractical weapon than a spear, but it was not uncommon to have them as an insurance policy, so to speak.

  20. 20 ChroniclerLoki
    September 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Why do I read this page and think that most aside from our esteemed host are cracked? I’m sorry, but if you are going to go to war you listen to the people making your weapons, otherwise there could be complications that could get you and others killed. Even in feudal Japan a master swordsmith would have said hell no to a sword that size because it would have taken half a village to pay for it, months to make it just right, and even then be impossible to use properly and effectively in the chaos of the battlefield. so simply from the standpoint of the sword makers view they would have never used such weapons because they would never have been made for the soldiery. because such a weapon would have cost as much as fifty smaller swords or a few dozen spears, taken three or four times the amount of time to make and would be unlikely to be used even by a soldier who in the unlikely event may have needed it.

  21. September 25, 2008 at 1:20 am

    Exactly. There are so many reasons why this kind of weapon makes no sense, that i doubt it was used the way many people seem to think. It doesn’t help that there is actually historic artwork that seems to depict a pair of infantry men holding an Odachi out on a battlefield somewhere. We can’t know whether it was an actual depiction or just an artists or historians embellishment or flight of fancy.

    And even if we take the art literally, it is clear that it was not used by single infantryman, but by teams, which makes no sense either, since swords are poorly designed for two man use. Just too many things that make no sense…


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