Archive for the 'Shikomizue' 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]

13
Nov
07

Another set of “cutting edge” sword staves…

Having run into one of my favorite staff based sword weapons, I decided to go looking for a few more, specifically for one of the ones that I am going to show you today. I’m happy to say my search was quite fruitful. Today I’ve got two sightly different styles of shikomizue, that are a bit different from what I’ve shown you so far:

Dragon Katana Twin Swords

Dragon Katana Twin Swords
[view full size]

<^>

Serpent Skull Twin Swords

Serpent Skull Twin Swords
[view full size]

As you can see, while they are both of the same basic shikomizue design, they both bear a few significant modifications on the traditional shikomizue. The most salient difference being that this particular twin sword configuration is divided at the exact mid point of the staff.

This design has several practical ramifications. For instance, the fact that it is split in the middle means that the length of the blades for each sword must, at most, be slightly less than half the length of the overall shikomizue. Compared to a standard shikomizue of the same length, it doesn’t change your reach, but it does make drawing the swords a little faster. At the cost, of course, of shortening your effective blade length.

It also means that you do not need a separate saya, or scabbard. This is an advantage if you never use the saya as a backup weapon, and also in terms of not having to keep track of the saya whenever you unsheath your sword. But obviously it also means you don’t have anything else to defend yourself with if you happen to lose both of your swords. Not cool.

A much less obvious side effect of this design is that the balance of each sword is actually negatively affected. Because your blade is shorter, and your handle is longer, the sweet spot on the blade will be different from a regular sword. Also because the blades are designed to be sheathed side by side, you will also find that the blade of each sword is offset laterally from the center of the grip by a small amount.

These two small mechanical considerations may appear to be insignificant, but in practice, if you were to attempt to perform any clean, high accuracy cutting, you would find that the blade would have a tendency to rotate on contact, and you’d have to retrain yourself to make clean cuts properly! So this design is all about compromise. You gain a little stealth and speed, in exchange for some cutting efficiency.

But enough with all the technical mumbo jumbo! Shikomizue are cool regardless. And the two above are quite unique. My favorite of the two is the Dragon Katana set. For three reasons. First, it’s black. (And that’s instant win in my book). Secondly, it has these very sweet dragons carved into the black hardwood staff/grip/saya. Third, and most definitely not least, it is the closest to the originally intended design of the traditional shikomizue.

Unlike the Serpent Skull, you can see that on the Twin Dragon Katana, there are no external indicators that the staff splits into two. No external fittings, or anything. The split is a clean line that is not visible unless you are looking closely at it. It looks exactly like a fancy black staff. But, of course, by the time you get close enough to actually realize what it is, it will be too late to evade the Dragons deadly bite! MUA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAaaa…

*ahem* Sorry. I got a little carried away. I get that way sometimes.

Lets just say it’s the ultimate sleeper weapon, and leave it at that, mm’kay…?

09
Nov
07

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but sticks and swords can kill you…

I’ve always been a fan of stick and staff based weapons, and (quite obviously) bladed weapons as well. In an earlier post on a set of Super Twin Swords, I promised to show you another one of my favorite shikomizue (sword staff) type weapons. Well It’s pay day, and as promised, paydirt!:

Red Action Twin Swords

Red Action Twin Swords
[view full size]

Now this, is a rather unique and interesting take on shikomizue design. Unlike your traditional shikomizue, which hides a single sword in a walking staff, this dealio conceals TWO swords, in a single staff. Pretty nifty. There is yet another twin shikomizue design that I have seen, which I’ll post about if I run into it again, but today is “Red Action” day!!

So if you happened to be walking down the street, trusty “Red Action” at your side, and were to be accosted by some nefarious vagrants, you could whip out twice the sword fighting, butt kickin’ action on the unsuspecting baddies! Very Sweet! Except for one thing. Each sword is sheathed at opposite ends of a single center scabbard/saya. This kinda begs a few questions.

For instance, how secure would the bottom sword be if this were used on a daily basis? Would you constantly have to be watching to make sure you didn’t inadvertently lose a toe to a falling sword blade? And more importantly, which side is up?!? But I supposed if you actually had a practical use for a weapon like this, these questions would be the least of your problems.

From a visual standpoint, this weapon obviously gets it’s “Red Action” name from the blood red and black lacquered finish of the saya and grip, as well as the tarnished copper colored fittings, but beyond that, the aesthetics of the set is somewhat run of the mill. It could definitely be better. But of course I am biased towards dark weapons, and I may just be saying that because it isn’t all black and chrome.

But I like this weapon more for it’s functional benefits, and sheer weapon flexibility, than it’s aesthetics. Not only do you have a staff weapon, you have the option of wielding up to two swords, and would still be able to use the scabbard as backup as a short staff weapon. Now that’s the kind of flexibility I like.

I’ve probably mentioned before how I consider these weapons kinda like basic Swiss army knives. Well, this one even has the right color for it! All it needs is the Swiss army emblem on the saya. Though I kinda doubt that either the Swiss or the Japanese would look too kindly on that particular combination…

Red Action Twin Swords – [Sword Company]

08
Aug
07

Blind Justice…

Today I will be talking about a sword that I have always found beautiful, simple, and elegant, but deceptively benign in appearance. This is the Shikomizue (Cane Sword) used by the famous blind masseuse/swordsman Zatoichi from the Japanese TV and film series.

Zatoichi’s Shikomizue

Zatoichis Shikomizue (Sword Cane)
[view full size]

I have always admired the Zatoichi character. He was exemplary on many levels. To begin with, he was blind, which at the time, made you the lowest of the low on the social totem pole. Yet in spite of this, not only does he not only does not let this prevent him from being a productive member of society, but in addition, he actively fights (with some rather super extraordinary swordsmanship I might add) against the injustice he encounters on a daily basis.

And then there was his sword. Or rather Sword Cane (aka Shikomizue). Basically it was a sword designed to look like a simple walking stick when sheathed. A deceptive and covert weapon yes, but extremely suitable for a wandering blind beggar who did not wish to attract attention. I really don’t have much to say about this weapon except that because I have always been a fan of both stick fighting and swords, the Shikomizue to me always represented two weapons I love in one glorious package.

The basic premise of the Shikomizue, and the variations if it’s design have always intrigued me, and the one used by Zatoichi was one of the best. It is simply a classic must-have weapon for anyone into swords. Trust me. I wouldn’t steer you wrong. really.

Zatoichis Shikomizue – [Red Dragon Sword Co.]




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

Subscribe The Dark Realm!

Add to My AOL