Archive for the 'Ninja' Category

23
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 3: The Kusanagi Grass Cutter.

Welcome to the latest entry in my “Cool Replicas” series. Today, I’ll be talking about an interesting anime sword which I like for quite a few of reasons, the most cool (imho) being that the name of this sword actually has a history in Japanese culture. Kinda like the British Excalibur… More on that later.

For now, let me introduce you to a unique shikomizue from the Naruto anime series (one of my favorites) wielded by Sasuke Uchiha, a highly talented young ninja, who later on becomes so entirely corrupted by his need for power that, much like young Anakin Skywalker, he succumbs to the dark side.

This is his signature weapon after his definitive turn to evil; The Kusanagi Grass Cutter sword.

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter

[click image to view full size]

Now if you’ve read enough of my posts, you’ll immediately spot two things that I like. Want to take a stab at guessing what they are? Sure, go right ahead. I’ll wait… 🙂

LOL yep. The astute among you might have picked up on my shikomizue reference before, and you would be right. This is very similar in design to staff sword, saya and tsuki designed to look like a single piece of wood when closed. One of my very favorite designs.

The second? OK. For those not so familiar with my taste in weapons, I’ll be nice and give you a hint:

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter - *BLADE* and saya...

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter - *BLADE* and saya...

[click image to view full size]

Ok, if you didn’t pick up on it that time, you phail. The blade is the other thing I like on this. Why? BECAUSE IT’S BLACK!!!! Ha! OK. Now that we’ve gotten those little details out of the way, a little more about the sword. One of the first things I noticed was that the saya and tsuki were rectangular in cross section, which is an unusual trait.

Below you can see the detail of the black and white rectangular saya, sporting Sasuke Uchihas clan crest, (the fan in red), and more importantly, the point of the blade, an interesting hybrid between the traditional sweeping Japanese katana point style and the straight cut, sharply angled points we see on modernized/westernized ninjaken today.

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Saya, Point

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Saya, Point

[click image to view full size]

Now the great thing about a weapon like this is that it’s pretty hard to mess up, replica wise. Unless the components are really dirt cheap, and it is poorly put together, it is perhaps one of the simplest designs to replicate. All in all, I like this design. Thought it could stand to be a little darker… 🙂

BUT, interestingly enough, I did find another version of this sword, a much darker version, which proved to be not so accurate, though, to their credit, they did not try to pass it off as Sasukes sword, even though it is clearly a blatant rip off:

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Anime Rip Off

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Anime Rip Off

[click image to view full size]

Not so great. But now for some trivia. This particular design (in black) did not come out of nowhere. If you are one of the many who only watch anime on the cartoon channel here in the US, and don’t really know where they come from (besides from Japan, obviously) you may not realize that a great many of the popular anime series started of as Manga, or Japanese comics.

In fact most of the popular ones running now, like Naruto and Bleach, both got thier starts as Japanese comic books, and went almost immediately to TV syndication, so that the TV episodes aired almost as soon as a comic story line arc was complete. (Sometimes sooner, which often causes frequent non-storyline related filler arcs, much to my, and many others, chagrin).

Anyway the reason I brought this up is that there is a discrepancy between the Anime version and the Manga version of The Kusanagi sword. The versions we see above are actually the Manga version of the sword. The version that first appears in the Anime is a straight shikomizue (no curve) with a black saya and tsuki (no white lines), and a polished steel blade, quite similar to the black one above (except straight).

OK, so enough with the Anime trivia, on to Japanese folk history. The name of this sword is actually the name of a legendary sword in Japanese culture. The name “Kusanagi Grass Cutter” is actually a Japanese/English mix of the traditional name Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, which literally translates to “Grass cutter sword”.

There is actually a very cool story associated with this legendary sword, I was going to go into, but I won’t bore you with it, this post has gotten too long already. However If you want more details you can click here: Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi

As you can probably imagine, my ideal Kusanagi sword would be a black saya, black tsuki shikomizue, with a straight, black, westernized tanto point blade… mmm… a totally black sword… wait… I think I’m drooling… OK I’m done. I need to get a bib for these kinds of posts… 🙂

*Edit*

An astute reader, Zharkman, was kind enough to point out that my assumption about the last, black sheathed sword being a rip off of Sasukes Kusanagi is actually false, and that it actually came from the anime D. Gray-Man. I went back and looked it up, and lo and behold, I goofed!

The last sword is actually a replica of Mugen, the signature shirasaya of the D. Gray-Man protagonist Yu Kanda. And in that capacity it is actually an excellent likeness. This is what I get for making unfounded assumptions. And for not keeping up on my anime… There are just too many of them… Dagnabbit!

Sasukes Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Naruto) – [Kingdom of Swords]

Sasukes Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Naruto) – [Swords, Swords]

Yu Kandas’ Mugen Sword (From D. Gray-Man) – [True Swords]

04
Oct
08

Cool Kunai…

If you were following my last few posts, you may remember a comment I made about the cutlery industries use of “Metal” (aka cheap cast alloys) to form certain sword parts (usually the hilt), in spite of the fact that steel is relatively cheap.

Now I will readily admit that steel is much harder to work into complex shapes than it is to case an alloy, but still, there are some times when steel is the right thing to do. Like with these Kunai:

Red Kunai

Red Kunai

[click image to view full size]

Now the beauty of these kunai is that they have been designed for throwing use, which usually means all steel (usually a high carbon or spring steel) construction, and a properly balanced design. Now these  Kunai have been modeled after those used in the Naruto series, and barring the use of a red grip wrap as opposed to the white wraps used in the anime, are a fairly close approximation.

But more importantly, notwithstanding that this particular kunai design is not really the ideal for throwing (Yes, you heard right, in spite of all the anime hype, they are not the best throwing knife design) the fact remains that they will probably be made from steel. Sweet, sweet steel.

No alloys, no resins, no cheapo construction… Well maybe a *little* cheapo construction methodolgy, but not with cheap materials, making this one of the best replica anime Kunai that I am aware of today. And IMHO, the fact that it is steel alone, would probably make it worth having.

And incidentally for the curious among you, i’ll explain my whole “not the ideal throwing implement” comment. An ideal throwing knife should be able to be thrown either from the tip or the grip. This design will make a great tip thrower, but the large abrupt ring on the grip increases the chances that it would hang up in the hand if thrown from the grip.

that ring could also makes it a little harder to balance, (which is important for other reasons) though that could theoretically be figured out during the design stage. The topic of what makes an ideal throwing knife is one I think I will dedicate a post to in the future because it is quite the interesting one. But I digress.

My point is, I really wish knife designers could do the same for every knife they designed and made. Real grips, not alloys, proper steels, etc. I know it’s an unreasonable request, but if they did, they would make lots of folks, like me, happier than a foody at a food fair…

We’d also be perpetually broke for the rest of our natural lives, but so long as I got to adorn the walls of my cave with lots and lots of cool, well constructed swords, I don’t think I’d mind all that much… 😀

Red Kunai – [True Swords]

16
Sep
08

Ghost Rider… Scorpion Reincarnated?

OK, If my heading made no sense to you, (in which case you have some serious sociocultural catching up to do, since I live in a cave, shun human contact, and even I know who these characters are) I am referring to the “Ghost Rider“, of comic book and now movie fame, (played excellently, I thought, but what do I know…) by Nicholas Cage, and Scorpion, of video game turned movie “Mortal Kombat“.

Now having got the introductions out of the way, a little more explanation of my heading. It is my suspicion, that the Ghost Rider, and Scorpion, are one and the same. Yes. No, my tin foil hat is not on too tight. I just checked it. No seriously.

Don’t believe me? Okeydokey then. I have proof. Really. Yes, of course I can show it to you… (N00b). Allow me to present exhibit “A”:

Ghost Rider Chain Whip

Ghost Rider Chain Whip

[click image to view full size]

Ok, Now see that? That is the Ghost riders chain whip. Yeah huh. Basically a massive chain, weighted on both ends. This one has a solid steel grip on one end, and a spiked weight on the far end, making it all the more… Lethal. Now here comes the fun part. Do you know what kind of weapon this is? No? Well I’ll tell you. It’s called a Manrikigusari.

Yep, a manriki chain. Ah, but of what significance is that? Well being the helpful chap that I am, I’ll say that the Manrikigusari is a Japanese weapon, and is more importantly, a weapon reputedly used quite a lot by… Yep, you guessed it. Ninjas! Now here comes the tricky part. You know who else is a Ninja? If I have to tell you this, you need to go read someone elses blog… Ah, yes. That’s right. Scorpion! You get a cigar and +100 internets.

What is even more interesting is that one of scorpions signature moves is to launch what looks like a chain from his palm at his opponents, which then impales them so he can reel them in and inflict massive close range damage… In later incarnations, the chain actually became a living extension of Scorpion… Sound familiar? Maybe like Ghost riders chains perhaps? I’m just saying…

Ah, but the similarities do not end there. Ghost rider spends most of his time looking like a normal human being (as good old Johnny Blaze, stunt biker extraordinaire, no less). But when he changes to the Ghost Rider, he has a flaming skull for a head. Oooooh Scaaaarryyy… 😛

Coincidentally, (or not) though Scorpion usually has a ninja mask on, what you can see of his face generally looks normal. However he has this move where he takes off his mask and breathes hell fire out at his opponents. And I’ll give you one guess whats under that mask when he takes it off… Bingo! A fire breathing skull!!

And as if that was not enough, check this out. The Ghost rider is a hell spawned creature who has dedicated his life to metering out vengeance on those who have been wronged. Scorpion, is a hell spawned undead ninja who has dedicated his life to visiting vengeance on those who massacred his clan and killed his family… Freaky coincidence? I think not.

I’m telling you… These two are the same guy. Seriously. It’s some kind of conspiracy. No, I’m not a nut. Have you not read everything I’ve said so far?!? More evidence than you can shake a flaming stick at. And you know what they say. Your not a nut if it’s true… Bah. What do you know…

Either way, this is the sweetest manrikigusari evar…

The Ghost Riders Chain Whip – [True Swords]

07
Jul
08

A rather wicked bowie…

A while back while doing some research on a little project, (the results of which you may get to see here at some point in the future) I ran across a wicked looking little sword:

Viper Night Bowie

Viper Night Bowie

[view full size]

Now you may notice, if you go to the site I found this sweet looking sword on, (link at the bottom of the page) that it is called a “Black Ronin Full Tang Ninja Sword”. I chose to use the Viper Bowie because frankly there are too many Black Ronin weapons floating about, and also because this swords design, beyond anything more than being fairly straight, actually has more in common with a bowie than it does a ninjato.

However, as swords go, this one combines a rather unusual number of bowie-like design elements, such as a false edge on the spine that seems to run into a long clip-like point, opposite a blade with an almost imperceptible belly. Definitely Bowie inspired. Beyond that you have a serrated section below the straight edge that runs into thee short cut our ricasso, and into the small finger guard.

Behind the false rear edge on the spine of the blade we see a set of cut outs, much like those on the survival knives I blogged about a while ago, that runs into a small raised section that looks almost like a thumb rest with a grip slots cut into the surface. The blade itself has been rather heinously violated by a set of three slots set between the serrated section of the blade and just below the cut outs in the spine.

If you look at the profile of the blade, you can see that it is actually at it’s narrowest just above the slot area, and gets wider before and after, which, to me, makes the placement, and even the existence of those slots all the more mind boggling.

Black Viper Bowie

Why remove more material so close to one of the weakest parts of the blade? Maybe they like seeing swords bend/snap in half at inopportune moments, impaling the users big toe with a wayward slab of sharp black steel? Looking at some of these designs, I can help but ask…

Yet another interesting design cue was the black cord wrapped grip, which, in addition to having a nice gradual swell towards the open pommel, is actually biased forward a little, kinda like how a kukri is designed. I can imagine this providing a great grip for the weapon. This weapon seems to have been designed for more for heavy duty chopping, rough cutting and thrusting duty than anything else. Definitely not a Ninjato inspired sword.

But Ninjato or Bowie, between the flat black finish, and it’s wicked, no nonsense design, this sword by any other name is still freakin’ sweet…

Viper Night Bowie – [Swords 24]

23
May
08

2 Special Ninja LOLsticks for the price of one…

OK, so I’m cruisin’ my regular spots, lookin’ for cool blades when SHAZAM! This set of swords hit me. Twice. In the head. Yes. It happens. Your truly, every now and then, gets smacked down by something so absurdly funny, (to me anyway) that for short periods of time, I have difficulties forming coherent thoughts. It all happens so fast… WHAPOW! Seriously… It’s like KRAKOW!!… Like that… and it hits ya…

THE NINJA STRIKE FORCE!!!

Ninja Strike force - black blades

[view full size]

Aaaaawwwwwww Yeah…! That’s right… It’s the Ninja Strike force, Comin’ at you live and in color (in black, of course) from the heart of feudal Japan G… ‘Cause them Ninja’s, you know they got it all on lockdown, they be packing double gats shanks n stuff yo… And they stuff be all black and stealthy and stuff yo… They ain’t playin’… And stuff… Yeah..

OK… So that was a bit over the top… I’ll admit it. It’s just that the whole Ninja thing, well it hit ridiculous years ago and is now cruising at ludicrous speed… 😛 The name “Ninja Strike Force”, it just triggers all kinds of corniness in my head. Notwithstanding the fact that I’d kinda think that dual ninjaken wielding ninja would be pretty much as rare as, say, a US Navy SEAL running around with two M4A1 SOPMODs strapped to his back… well… You get the picture…

OK, so the swords aren’t entirely worthless. I like the black treatment of the blade… And that’s about it. The highly polished guard and pommel really kinda kill the whole “Shinobi weapon” concept… (Even If we ignore the fact that there are two of them). And the black wrapped grip is a little large and cylindrical, which would kill any orientation feedback you’d normally get from a traditional Japanese Tsuka.

Ironically, I really didn’t begin this post with the intention of totally mocking the set… I saw the black blades and (after the initial laughing fit had subsided) I thought “This might be cool to blog about…” But after taking a closer look at it… it just sucks sooo bad… I can’t help it… 😛

Ninja Strike Force *snicker* – [True Swords]

27
Apr
08

The Modern Kunai

In a few previous posts I’ve made much about how the Japanese kunai had undergone an amazing transformation at the hands of Hollywood, from a cheap, multi purpose garden implement into the omnipotent Swiss Army knife of the Shinobi warrior. The modern replica kunai is now part throwing knife, part parry tool, part fighting knife, camp knife, hunting knife, scalpel, the list goes on… Well, the point of this post is that I found yet another incarnation of kunai, from veteran knife shop Cold Steel…:

Cold Steel Kunai

Cold Steel kunai

[view full size]

Now as Kunai go, this is fairly recognizable, though it is a rather unique design, and a major departure from the traditional Kunai design in two very important ways.

First, the blade is a flat, wide triangular blade. Your traditional Kunai was more leaf shaped, than actually a triangle, though this is not a bad approximation. This also stays in keeping with the diamond shaped blade cross section, which gives the kunai a lot of strength, though it is much more shallow diamond than some traditional designs. It would make a strong thrusting weapon. Not so much for cutting, even though it has two very sharp edges. Kunai really weren’t the best design for cutting. Too short and too wide.

The second design departure is, to me at least, a much more important one. In defiance of the traditional full tang Kunai construction, Cold Steel has seen fit to simply encase a tang in a kraton handle. Yes, it looks cool, it probably provides a great grip, and it’s got this great tactical ring on the end of it, but this, imho, is a grave mistake.

There is simply not as much strength in a grip molded onto a rat tail as there is with a full tang with scales. given the kind of use that a kunai might see, i would always be worried about the tang somehow working it’s way out of the grip material. I’ve seen it happen too many times. And it’s a great shame.

But speaking of different kinds of uses, I couldn’t help but notice the handy little chart that cold steel provided on the different grips that could be used to wield the kunai. Now I will readily admit that I am no kunai fighting expert, but seriously, half of those grips seem very… well… pointless… It looks almost like they just held it in as many ways they could think of and then picked the coolest looking ones for the pic.

I mean seriously, a kunai is not a punch dagger. Punch daggers are short for a reason. You don’t want the blade rotating out of your hand. That is why grips 1 and 6 fail miserably in that respect. And grip 4 is pointless when you could use either 3 or 5 to accomplish essentially the same reverse/ice pick grip in a much stronger way. Grip 8 is a good strong hammer grip, while 7 looks like a good way to break a pinky. And whoever came up with grip 2 must have been smoking a controlled substance…

In fact I’m thinking the only ones who could find any practical use for grip 2 would have to be Ninjas… But you can try it for yourself if you feel so inclined… I’m just saying…

Cold Steel Kunai – [True Swords]

02
Mar
08

Two swords: Better than one?

While going through my archive of weapon pics, I came across a couple of sets of fighting sword pairs:

Black Mamba Twin Fighting Swords

Black Mamba Fighting Swords
[view full size]

Now I like this set for a couple of reasons. First, both swords are black. (Always a plus in my book) Second, they are both designed in the style of one of my favorite kinds of swords, Ninjaken! Not to mention that they have some nice looking grips, which is a rarity in this particular kind of design. Last, but certainly not least, there are two of them. And two is always better than one! Amirite? Well… No. Not always.

While I like the idea of practicing with dual weapons, one of the things I found interesting is the misconception that dual weapons are generally better than single ones, and having two weapons makes one twice the one man army they were before… The reality? Bah humbug.

Now I will readily admit to having little experience with wielding double ninjaken like these. I have studied the use of dual wushu swords, however that style differs greatly from the one that would be used for ninjaken, and even more so for dual unequal length (strong hand/weak hand) swords styles.

Viper Twin Fighting Swords

Viper Twin sword set
[view full size]

However I think the truth of the matter is that, while two swords should theoretically give you is the ability to double your offensive ability, it is already hard enough to learn to properly use a single sword. Attempting to replicate the offensive philosophy of a single sword, with two, actually presents a level is difficult that is orders of magnitude greater than that of a single sword. Let alone trying to apply that for swords of unequal length.

In fact, I’d think that the offensive ability of swordsman used to wielding a single sword, who now attempts to use two swords, might even be negatively affected. Of course experience is a relative thing, but all else being equal, I think that in practice, for all but the most well trained double swordsman, having two swords would not present any kind of advantage whatsoever…

And seriously, thats a real bummer…




October 2019
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Subscribe The Dark Realm!

Add to My AOL