Dunno if it’s obvious from my posts or not, but I have a thing for Ninja weapons… 🙂 Actually to be honest, It’s just not ninja weapons, but the all of the interesting medieval analogs of modern day covert and highly specialized weaponry that people came up with back in the day. That and I also have a thing for dark weapons. So with that in mind, the reasons why this particular weapon caught my eye might appear to be obvious:
But they are not. For the observationally impaired among you, yes. It’s black, and it’s a ninja sword. (It’s Da Bomb Diggity!!) But that is not the only reason this weapon is the topic of today’s post. Nope, it’s not. What else? Well, for one thing, unlike most of the weapons I blog about, this one is actually functional. Don’t know if it’s good enough to be considered “Battle ready” (yes, there’s a difference) but this usually means that this would take abuse the likes of which the others would simply have given up the ghost under.
However, there are a couple of more subtle features that this sword has that are interesting and unique. Like the saya (scabbard). If you look at the picture, it looks like there is a hole at the base of the sheath. Now traditionally, a Ninja’s saya was designed so that it could be used as a breathing tube while underwater. If that is what this is, it’s actually a unique implementation of that functionality, as most designs I see today simply make a completely hollow saya and put a removable plug or cap on the far end.
And perhaps the most interesting design feature of this sword is the blade. If you were paying attention during the Shinobigatana 101 class I lectured you on many posts ago, you would remember that one of the trademark features of common ninjaken was it’s straight blade. Now to be perfectly honest, there are older Ninja swords that did, in fact, look like katanas, with curved blades, and everything.
However for our intents and purposes we can ignore the earlier, borrowed, ninja sword designs and focus on the later, redesigned and more tactically appropriate weapons of the medieval shinobi warrior, currently recognized as Ninjaken. I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
And back to the blade of the dark beauty before us. 😉 This Ninjato does have a straight blade, however the observant among you will have noticed that there is actually a taper to the width of the blade from the hilt to the point. The blade is actually narrower at the tip than at the hilt! Whoa.
Now for a Japanese sword, this taper is an atypical design feature. The blade of your average Ninjato, indeed, even your average Japanese Katana, usually maintains an almost consistent width from the hilt to the point. This helps keep the point of percussion (AKA the sweet spot) towards the tip of the sword, where the most damage can be done. Tapering the blade in this fashion would move the sweet spot further down the blade towards the hilt. Now in a Katana, this would make no sense, as you would effectively be moving the weight of the sword down, and away from the top of the blade, where it would do the most good.
However narrowing the tip of a blade also has the effect of reducing the weight at the tip of the blade, and in the shorter Ninja sword, this would mean a much faster, much more controllable sword. This added agility would come at the cost of your ability to make shearing cuts, however most Japanese blade arts are heavily biased towards thrusts and slashing cuts, not shearing or chopping cuts, so this disadvantage would not crippling by any means. Especially for a ninja.
In fact, given that Ninjas would be going for a speedy assassinations, or infiltration, or whatever, and trying to avoid direct confrontation with opponents wielding larger, heavier Katanas, the narrower, faster sword might be a very useful modification. Show up, fast draw, fast kill, get the heck outta Dodge. I kinda look at the difference between a shinobigatana, thusly modified, and a large katana as similar to the difference between a light, Japanese tuner car and American muscle car. Except they are both Japanese.
No, I meant the swords, not the cars… OK, Hardy, har, har. Very funny. Whatever, smarty pants…
Musashi Hand Honed Black Ninja Sword – [Medieval Weapon Art]