Archive for August, 2007


Walk softly. And carry a big stick.

Today I thought I’d talk about a very old weapon. The good old stick. Yes. You know, your basic tree branch. Club. Truncheon. Baton. Night stick. Yep. A blunt impact weapon. Yes, yes, yes, I know its not a bladed weapon. But I thought it was worth a post, especially since I recently ran across a reproduction of an interesting feudal Japanese variation of the ubiquitous stick, in the form of a class of weapons called Jutte.

Ikkakuryu Jitte

Jitte (steel)
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Jutte or Jitte (ten-hand) are, for all intents and purposes, short steel clubs. But they are very special clubs. They are the medieval Japanese equivalent to the modern day billy club, or night stick. And they were engineered to be used defensively against one of the more lethal weapons of the era, the equally ubiquitous sword.

Ikkakuryu Jitte (Wood Handle)

Jitte - Steel Club w Wood handle
[view full size]

As you can see, the Jutte (or Jitte) is basically a steel club with a single, forward facing prong, called a Kagi. Much like a Sai, except with only one prong. Incidentally, a Sai is also a form of club. Not a dagger. But I’ll reserve that discussion for another post. Back to Jutte. The kagi on the wooden handled jitte above is oversized, as it was designed for sword catching practice with thick bladed wooden swords called boken. In essence a Jutte could be used to block or parry a sword strike, and then the prong could be used to trap, or even break, an attackers sword.

The beauty of the Jutte was that it could be used to subdue both armed and unarmed attackers in a nonlethal way. You could say it was one of the first nonlethal tactical police weapons. (Heh.) It was a versatile and effective. I daresay they would be as effective today (if not a little more intimidating) as it was back in feudal Japan, if our modern police force were of a mind to use them.


Your Sword, Sir William?

Today we are going old school. I ran across this sword not too long ago, and thought it was another great example of classic medieval sword design. Much like the Black Italian Bastard Sword I blogged about a while back. Except that this sword is fairly simple. No gimmicks, no fancy ironwork, just a great sword.

Sir William Marshall Sword – Damascus Blade

Sir William Marshall Damascus Steel Sword
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I think I like this sword for same reasons as the Italian Bastard Sword. It is a simple, straightforward and strong design. Aesthetically, I do not find it as pleasing as the Italian bastard sword is. Perhaps because in straight swords, I tend prefer blades whose width does not change drastically from hilt to tip. In this sword, there is quite a large difference. however what it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in simplicity, functionality and contrast.

The blade is of a standard tapered design. Not one of my favorites, but in this case, not too bad. A prominent fuller runs almost the entire length of the dark Damascus steel blade, both to increase stiffness and reduce weight. The cross guard is a simple polished bar. Barring my personal issues with the change in width of the blade, it is, overall a great blade.

The grip is wrapped in black leather, interwoven with black leather strips, I’m betting more to improve traction, and non-slip qualities than for any aesthetic purposes, although it does look quite good. And it is all capped of by a simple polished round pommel.

Simplicity and functionality at it’s best. And even though from a visual standpoint, the Damascus steel blade is a big plus in my book, the fact that it is simply a strong and versatile sword steel makes it more of a functional improvement, than an design one.

This would be for the knight who wanted a sword that just worked. That could be depended upon. And you really couldn’t go wrong with this.

Sir William Marshall Damascus Steel Sword – [Medieval Weapon Art]


A sword of the earth…

Today we get to look at a sword, made for a fictional story, that was written just to showcase the designers swords… Yep, you read right… In contrast to other sword manufacturers, who try to piggy back on the popularity of an existing movie, story or product, this sword is intended represent a weapon from a fantasy story which was written ostensibly for the sole purpose of giving his weapons a “back story”.  Yet another brainchild of the knife designer Kit Rae. You gotta give him props for originality and imagination…

Anathros – Sword of the Earth

Anthros - Sword of the Earth
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There are many things about this sword that I like. Even the blade by itself is very interesting. The tip of the blade ends in a simple, fairly acute spear point, but unlike most other sword blades, this blade has been ground such that it appears to carry a hexagonal shaped cross-section all the way to the ricasso. I really like the way it looks.

The engraving on the ricasso itself is a nice touch, and while the cut outs do add a little more character to what is a very large ricasso, I think it creates an area of structural weakness in the blade that it could really have done fine without. This small shortcoming is  completely overshadowed by the excellent cross guard design.

The cross guard is absolutely beautiful. Combining opposing, stemmed talons on either side of a set of central claws, the design is genius. And there is a subtle organic feel to the way they all flow together. The wire wrapped grip, which is fairly average on it’s own, makes up for it’s mediocrity by drawing emphasizing to both the hilt and the intricate pommel, which is also adorned with two opposing claws.

This design execution of this sword is just excellent. Now I usually like a little contrast (namely, some black) in my shiny chrome weapons, but every now and then, I run across a sword that is perfect just as it is. This is definitely one of them.

Anathros – Sword of the Earth – [Medieval Weapon Art]


Another Fantastic Axe!

Today I thought I’d talk about another interesting designer melee/throwing axe I ran into a while back.

The Fantasy Axe

The Fantasy Axe
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Now the first question that popped into my head when I read the description, and then looked at the axe, was: Couldn’t anyone come up with a more fitting name than “Fantasy Axe”? Did marketing run out of fantasy weapon descriptors? Bah! Anyway, this axe has a lot of similarities to the War Shark axe I blogged about not too long ago. They may have had the same designer.

But unlike the War Shark axe, the Fantasy axe seems to have a lot more aesthetic design cues that do not appear to have any functionality beyond trying to make it look… Fantastic… At which they do a mediocre job. Not that it’s an ugly axe mind you. It looks good. Just doesn’t seem to deliver what the name promised. Freakin’ marketing…

I will say however that it does have the kind of wicked points and curviness about it that I really like. It certainly beats the snot out of the Reaver Axe I blogged about a while back. In fact with slightly more depth to the design, I think this axe would have made a better companion for the Reaver sword than that poor, butchered excuse of a battle cleaver did.

The fantasy axe does have some good things going for it, in that the spike opposite the axe blade seems like it could do some damage to armor, and is better positioned to do so than the on the War Shark. It also looks like it would be better suited for throwing, though how much so is hard to tell. But it does look cool nonetheless, and complemented by the nifty leather-wrapped handle, it seems like a nice, all around melee/throwing weapon I could see taking into battle with me, were I a medieval warlord…

Fantasy Axe – [Medieval Weapon Art]


Punisher Movie Sword?

In keeping with the action movie themed swords I have talked about recently, I thought I’d post about an interesting sword, namely “The Punisher” movie sword:

The Punisher Sword

The Punisher Movie Sword
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This sword is all the more interesting because, well, frankly I don’t remember the Punisher using any kind of sword in the movie at all, let alone a “Punisher” branded weapon. Now it could be my memory is faulty, but a more likely explanation is that the manufacturer is simply trying to make some moolah off the Punisher movie… Gotta love marketing…

But besides the fact that this sword may have nothing whatsoever to do with the movie, (beyond the skull motif), it really is a nice sword. I like the direction the designer went with it. The way the punisher skull emblem has been incorporated into the aesthetics of the sword is very pleasing. The blade itself appears quite menacing. Though I have a preference for curved weapons, I also love well designed straight, simple and narrow swords. I love the symmetry of them.

I think the greatest thing about this sword is how the skull motif has been fluidly incorporated into it’s design, being prominent but not overpowering. The skull on the pommel is a nice touch. The cross guard is perhaps the most noteworthy feature of this sword, incorporating a really sweet skull just below the ricasso, set amid what I can only describe as a kind if hybrid wing/claw cross guard design, also sprinkled with skulls, with a large bone-like separator mid-wing.

Punisher Sword - Hilt & Skull Plaque Punisher Sword - Cross Guard
(click on images to view full size)

The numerous skulls on the wings of the cross guard are probably the only area where I think they went a little overboard. I would have preferred to see it empty, or with some form of organic emphasis on the curve of the guard. But beyond that everything else is well done, down to the smooth, almost concave taper of the ridged black grip.

Overall, a superb design. Even if no such weapon is canon in the “Punisher” universe…

Punisher Sword – [Red Dragon Sword Co]


Wolverine Claws… In Black!!

Well today I ran into something pretty cool. A set of X-Men Wolvie Claws… in black!!

X-Men Wolverine Battle Claws in Black

X-Men Wolverine Black Battle Claws
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If you have been following my blog, you may remember this post a while back about an similar set of Wolverine Claws. I also featured this previous set in my Ultimate Wolverine Claw Guide. Well, this set is pretty much the same as the other one, except that someone had the excellent idea of powder coating the blades and the handle black, and wrapping the handle in black leather.

The final effect is, for lack of a better word, schweet. Simply beautiful. At least in my opinion. This particular blade design still posses the same structural/mechanical shortcomings that I talked about in the other post, however at least these look much, much more sinister. Which, in my book, is better. Which earns the dark pair of wolverine claws extra wickedness points over the relatively wussy shiny pair…

Black X-Men Wolverine Claws – [King of Swords]


The Weapon of a Lethal Operator.

Now in my last post, I talked about a pair of weapons from the movie Firefly: Serenity. In the comments that followed, I was reminded that the movie also had another very blog worthy sword. Namely, the sword of the Operative. (Nice catch Jonathan!)

Now, I actually agree wholeheartedly with his opinion of the sword, and for some reason, I thought I had already posted about it, but much to my dismay, I realized I hadn’t. So this post should serve to correct that travesty, especially since this was one of the two most noteworthy weapons in the movie. I present to you, the sword of the Operative:

The Operative’s Sword

Serenity - The Operatives Sword
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Much like the Reaver weapons did for River Tam in the climactic fight scene I described in my last post, this sword played an important role in defining one of the key characters in the movie, namely the Alliance Operative. The Operative was an intriguing and deadly character. Perhaps more dangerous than most because he believed his cause to be just. He was a man who sought “A world without sin” and was willing to do anything to make that happen.

He was intelligent, determined and tenacious, but most notable about him was his ruthlessness in the pursuit of his goals. He engaged in many acts of murderous brutality in order to achieve them, and I think he was also the most tragic character of the movie, because at the end of the day, he realized that all of the heinous acts he had committed were for naught, and he had simply made himself a part of the problem.

But let’s get back to the sword. Much like light sabers were for Jedi Knights, the Operative considered the sword a more elegant and civilized killing weapon than a firearm, and used it almost exclusively. Interestingly, the swords design possesses the features of a modernized urban battle sword, having many of the elements of a weapon intended for speed, stealth and efficiency in close quarters combat, much like a ninjas sword.

In fact, I’m betting the designer of this blade must have had some experience with Japanese swords, as the Operatives sword is very reminiscent of traditional Japanese ninjaken. The basic design elements are very similar. A straight, single edged, mid-sized sword, designed to maximize flexibility, ease of carry and speed of deployment.

Also of note on the Operatives weapon is the modernized tanto point. This is a very durable general purpose point, a design that allows for great piercing strength but still allows good slashing and shallow stabbing moves at range. The overall design of the sword is simple and rugged, while the addition of blood grooves, or slots towards the hilt of the sword was also a nice touch. Very cool.

All in all, a cool, no nonsense, highly utilitarian but aesthetically pleasing sword, very befitting the character who used it. The kinda guy you should still be worried about, even if he shows up to a gunfight with a sword…

The Operative’s Sword – [Medieval Weapon Arts]

August 2007
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