The Battle Axe

A battle axe is an axe that is primarily fashioned for combat. Battle axes were specific versions of utility axes and a lot of these were suited for single-handed use; other battle axes were fairly larger and were used with two hands.

Features of the Battle Axe

The medieval battle axes were weapons made by skilled blacksmiths and these were designed specifically for warfare. The axes measured around thirty centimeters or more and weighed over three kilograms; cleaving weapons were much longer than 1.5m and would be categorized as polearms instead. These battle axes were usually made of steel, iron, and at times, bronze, while the handles were often made of wood.

Brief History of the Battle Axe

Together with the spear and club, the axe is considered as mankind’s oldest and most traditional close-range weapons for battle. The very first axes that were utilized as weapons were mostly used as tools since these were close at hand. Though as time passed, the focus changed to developing and improving specific axes for battles, and the ordinary pieces were still utilized as weapons until recent times. Axes that were produced intentionally as weapons for combat were called the battle axe; these pieces were made as far back as the Bronze and Stone Age.

Axes that were made to be thrown as projectiles were called the throwing axes; these were pieces that featured short handles. These types of weapons were utilized by the Teutonic tribes in the Great Migration era in the years 400 to 500 AD. The Franks also used these weapons and theirs were thick with extremely sharp axe heads; short handles were also usual for the Frankish throwing axes and could be launched at a distance towards the enemy. Excavations in numerous central European graves (from 500 to 750 AD) featured a uniquely special axe that was called the Francisca. It was initially utilized by the Franks and it featured quite a unique shape which was specifically designed to be an efficient weapon for throwing. When thrown with great accuracy, the weapon could rotate numerous times in the air before it hits its target. The Francisca was mostly used as a hand weapon during close-range combat since it was necessary to keep a firm grip on weapons at all times.

Battle Axes in the Viking Age

In Scandinavia, these weapons became extremely popular especially in 800 to 1100 AD during the Viking Age; it became the weapon of choice among warriors who battled in history. During this era, the Nordic smiths came up with axes that featured thinner blades and longer handles, making the axes’ heads lighter for use during battle. This specific type of axe was common in the year 1066 during the Battle of Hastings.

The Middle Ages and the Renaissance Period

During the Renaissance and Middle Ages, numerous armies from Europe usually carried two different kinds of battle axes: one was a small one with a short handle while the other was a fairly larger one with a much longer handle. Knights usually fought on foot when wielding these battle axes and during the fifteenth century, the German and French knights particularly used special battle axes that had more weight and shorter handles. The edges were also blunt enough to crush the enemy’s armor with ease.

In Central Europe, the throwing axes were made entirely of iron and were utilized in the late Middle Ages. The handles usually measured around 25 to 30 centimeters in length and these ended in a point; the butts also featured sharpened spikes and the axes also featured sixteen-centimeter long cutting edges. An example is the bearded axe which usually appears with an elongated edge and a saber-like arch called the beard. Axes with beards usually came in numerous varieties with one or more hooks or points. These were sometimes referred to as the half-moon though other names included the bardiche and halberd. These types of axes were common in Central and Western Europe during the fourteenth century before they were widely utilized in Eastern Europe and Sweden.

In Europe, these weapons eventually dropped in popularity when swords were created; however, the axes still remained an easily accessible and cheap weapon for regular individuals such as peasants during times of unrest and self-defense against bandits.

Wakizashi Sword

Take a look at the wakizashi and you will notice that it is just a shorter version of the very popular katana; it was also carried by the samurai during the feudal period in Japan and it was worn as a pair with the katana. It is necessary to carry these weapons together (though sometimes they also include a tanto) to clearly show everyone that the wielder was a samurai since the swords appear as the side arm of these samurai. Usually, the wakizashi sword is worn along with the katana and the carrying of these weapons were called the daisho which literally means small and large – dai or large to describe the katana while sho is for the smaller weapon which is the wakizashi.

Features of the Wakizashi

Generally, the wakizashi’s blade measures around twelve to twenty-four inches; however, there are different sizes of these weapons where one measures close to the katana’s length and is called the o-wakizashi, while the wakizashi that has almost a similar measurement to the tanto is called the ko-wakizashi. When the wakizashi is carried together with the katana, it was an official sign that the wielder of the two swords was a samurai from Japan’s feudal period. Although some would assume that the wakizashi is just the smaller version of the katana, these weapons could be forged and made differently, with different cross-sections as well.

History of the Little Sword

Just like every other authentic Japanese sword made in the past, the wakizashi has been utilized by the samurai as far back as the fifteenth or sixteenth century; it was primarily utilized as an auxiliary or backup sword, a weapon great for close-quarter battles, as well as a sword used for beheading their defeated enemies.  Furthermore, these weapons were also were made for decapitating their defeated opponents and the wakizashi was also used by the samurai to commit a ritual suicide or Seppuku; because of this, the weapon was referred to as the Honor Blade among foreign individuals. Miyamoto Musashi, a master swordsman was famous for wielding a wakizashi and a katana in both hands, simultaneously, to fight his opponents to achieve the ultimate advantage during combat.

In the past, samurai who carried these two swords would leave their katana with the servant of the building or on a rack called the katana-kake; when set on the rack, they need to have the katana’s hilt pointing to the left so the weapon had to be removed or pulled out with the left hand. After this, the katana would be carefully passed to the right hand then placed on the wielder’s right waist, allowing him to only remove the sword with his left hand. This was necessary to make drawing the sword more difficult and would eventually decrease all suspicions and negative thoughts about the samurai. When it comes to the wakizashi, this will be worn at all times unlike the katana, hence, was known as the side-arm of every samurai. Interestingly, a samurai would have his wakizashi with him from the time he wakes to the time he sleeps.

Wakizashi in Modern-Day Fiction

Today, the wakizashi is commonly used by fictional characters that would be categorized into the archetype of stealth wherein the characters would usually be ninjas, assassins, or even spies. The reason for this was due to the usefulness and efficiency of the wakizashi especially in close quarters and its ability and ease to be concealed. A popular video game of this time called Final Fantasy X features one of the characters there, a samurai aeon called Yojimbo who makes use of a wakizashi; also, in a Japanese anime called Samurai Champloo, all of the main characters namely Fuu, Mugen, and Jin, all wield a wakizashi; in fact, Jin and Mugen actually win most of their challenging battles in the anime using the wakizashi.

Iaito Sword

The Iaito is a contemporary practice sword made of metal and does not have a cutting edge which is why it is primarily utilized for practicing the art of Iaido. A real and authentic katana with a sharpened cutting edge is called a shinken and in contrast to this sword, the Iaito features no cutting edge and is not recommended for sword to sword use. Although the Iaito is a sword mainly used for practice, it should not be confused with faux swords that are available since these are generally made for decorative purposes and are unsafe for practicing martial arts.

Most of the Iaito swords are made out of an aluminum-zinc alloy which is definitely lighter and cheaper compared to high-quality and authentic steel; also, making use of a blunt edge and alloy avoids the legal restrictions of the Japanese when it comes to manufacturing swords made out of ferrous components or metals. Because of this, the Japanese-forged Iaito are primarily made for practice and exercises thus, are not recommended for any form of contact. You will know which ones are the best reproductions of the real authentic swords since these replicas have exactly the same shape and weight along with its mirrored high-quality fittings and finish; the iaito may even have a special blade pattern that is the temper line of a finely tempered steel blade (hamon). The regular weight of an authentic uchigatana is around 1,200 grams without its scabbard, while the iaito measures roughly around 820 grams; there are a few steel iaito created as well but these only weigh around 900 to 960 grams despite it having a 74 centimeter sized blade.

If you are someone who wishes to have something that is a bit more traditional and authentic, you can find an iaito that has been created from folded steel which is generally like the real Japanese katana but instead of a sharp cutting edge, it features a blunt edge which is best for practice. Although these weapons feature such types of edges, the swords would still face the same ownership and usage restrictions in Japan just like with the authentic samurai swords and would not be called the iaito.

The First Iaito

The company Meirin Sangyo claims to be the very first group to create an iaito; yet in history, the very first iaito were created right after World War II to allow people who do not have any means to actually own an authentic sword, own a weapon that they can utilize to practice modern budo. There are a couple of dojos in Japan that only recommend the use of alloy blades during the practice of iaido until the skills of the individual practicing the art is consistent enough to utilize a real sharp-edged weapon; however, there are a few schools that allow their practitioners to make use of a sharp-edged sword right away while others completely prohibit the use of this.

Iaito in Popular Culture

The katana is obviously one of the most common and favored weapons in Japan, popular culture, and most especially in the world of martial arts; however, the iaito is also quite a known name in popular culture since the weapon has been used for a variety of things: a character from a fighting game called Soul Calibur III wields an iaito blade that is concealed in a parasol made of oil paper; in another video game called Dark Souls, the iaito is one of the available weapons of choice that the character may use to successfully win the game.

Katana Sword

We all know that the katana sword is among the traditionally made weapons wielded by the samurai of feudal Japan to slash, fight, and protect against enemies. If we were to characterize the apparent features of the sword, we would start off with the katana sword having an arched single-edge blade that also has either a squared or circular-shaped guard; additionally, the katana also has an adequately long grip to easily accommodate two hands.

The Katana

Generally, the katana is a standard-sized, fairly curved Japanese sword with a blade that measures over sixty centimeters. It has a distinct appearance so it can somehow be distinguished from the tachi and aside from this, the katana sword can also be distinguished if the signature is carved right into the tang’s side and should face outward when the weapon is carried on the owner’s left. Since the cutting edge of the tachi faces down, the cutting edge of the katana is worn up and this is to have both signatures seen in opposite locations. Because of the durability, strength, and excellence of the katana, a lot of western historians claim that it is one of the finest weapons in history.

Katanas during the Edo Period

During this period, researchers claimed that there was an actual official sword-testing department put up by the government; this was to ensure that the all the blades of the katana that they were to use were of quality materials. With the Tameshigiri, a professional swordsman would have the chance to test the katana’s blade by directly slicing through the bodies of executed individuals or at times, through the bodies of live criminals that were all piled up atop of each other. There are times when inexperienced samurai used these to train; however, the official testing of the katana’s blades can only be carried out by master or professional swordsmen to make sure that the blade was made perfect for battle.

When testing the blades, there were different areas to be hit: from one’s ankle to the trunk, and a couple more spots. The test results during tests like cutting three bodies right through the trunk would be carved on the blade; and if the blades were proven to be powerful, the value of it would greatly increase. Although the swordsmith who created the katana would greatly benefit from the tamashigiri to prove the quality of their work, the testing of these swords would still be ordered by those who would purchase the katana and generally, these tests are at times, just as expensive as the swords.

Uses of the Katana Today

We can’t deny that almost everyone all over the world has an increased liking in the traditional martial arts of the Japanese, and because of this, a lot of people from other countries started gaining interest in Kenjutsu. For the modern version of Kenjutsu, most of its practice is executed in the suburi style and instead of using the real katana, practitioners make use of a bokken. Aside from practice, katanas are often used in various action films that have become a hit all over; some of these movies include Zatochi, Kill Bill, The Last Samurai, and a lot more.

Historical European Martial Arts

HEMA martial arts or Historical European Martial Arts generally refers to sword-based martial arts that were taken from various techniques utilized in Europe from the years 1300 to 1800. A lot of the HEMA martial arts have been recreated and developed based on ancient records and manuals; also, a large number of these styles of martial arts are practiced with numerous weapons such as the HEMA longsword, daggers, bucklers, pole weapons, and a lot more.

While there is only a limited number of surviving documents and records on the martial arts of Classic Antiquity – specifically gladiatorial combat and ancient Greek wrestling – the surviving records were primarily dedicated to the technical combat manuals and treatises that date all the way to the late middle ages and the early modern era. Because of this, the main focus of HEMA is, in reality, in the period of the half millennium of the years 1300 to 1800, where Italian and German schools were appearing during the late middle ages and the Renaissance period which was around the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries.

Martial arts that were present during the nineteenth century – specifically classical fencing, as well as the early combination styles like Bartitsumay or Bartitsu – were also included in the HEMA martial arts term. Numerous traditional styles that were attested during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries included various forms of traditional stick fighting and folk wrestling.

Revival of HEMA and Modern Practice

The revival of HEMA martial arts and modern practice have been attempted to be reconstructed at some point in history. They focused on restoring the discontinued classical traditions of European martial arts around the late nineteenth century with the revival of fondness and interest during the Middle Ages. This specific movement of revival was led in England by Alfred Hutton who was known as a soldier, swordsman, writer, and antiquarian.

Since the 1990’s, Historical European Martial Arts communities have continued to emerge and grow in various areas such as Australia, Europe, North America, and all other English speaking countries. These groups have continuously been operating in the attempts of reconstructing and building the HEMA martial arts by utilizing a variety of methods to achieve this; and even if the general focus is on the martial arts of the Renaissance and Medieval masters, the martial arts teachers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have also been studied, and their systems are also being reconstructed and developed.

Most of the HEMA martial arts in practice today either have a master to student lineage that dates all the way back to their historical origins which have all been recreated or revived mostly from the historical records and texts in history.

HEMA martial arts greatly differ from contemporary fencing since it utilizes traditional weapons (such as the HEMA longsword etc.) and not the modern and hybrid types of fencing swords. Additionally, HEMA is also primarily focused on practicing and perfecting the traditional battling techniques versus the sports characteristics of contemporary fencing.

Modern HEMA Clubs

Most of the modern HEMA clubs focus on the Late Medieval fighting martial arts (especially the HEMA longsword) or on the numerous Renaissance sword martial arts (such as the rapier); although this is the case, a lot of clubs practice and train in various arts, periods, and weapons, but above all, HEMA martial arts is depicted by its uniqueness and diversity. There are numerous HEMA martial arts practitioners who opt to engage in numerous tournaments simply to test their acquired skills; and although this is a good thing, it is not necessarily required.

HEMA VS Choreographed Historical Demonstrations

HEMA martial arts VS choreographed historical demonstrations are completely different things, and although the practitioners of HEMA usually come from different backgrounds, HEMA is not any of the following

The Longsword – Favourite Weapon For Centuries

The longsword or Bastard sword was also referred to as the Hand and a Half swords during a later period in history, and it was given this specific name (longsword) due to its long handle that allowed the wielder to grip the weapon with both hands. The elements of the longsword such as its outstanding reach and its excellent thrusting and cutting abilities made the blade a highly popular piece among warriors on the battlefield.

This specific sword was widely utilized by the medieval knight, and it was a prevalent piece during the late medieval period and the Renaissance Era – specifically around the years 1350 to 1550. It was also greatly utilized during the early thirteenth century until the late seventeenth century.

Elements of the Longsword

Listed below are the most notable elements of the longsword:

  • The Longsword features a double-edged blade as well as an adequately long handle to accommodate two hands when gripping the weapon.
  • The total length of the sword measured around forty to forty-eight inches long, with a handle that measured about ten to fifteen inches in addition.
  • As for the weight, the longsword weighed around five to eight pounds in total.
  • It was first used as a close contact weapon that was necessary for executing massive blows.
  • Generally, the longsword was utilized for slicing or cutting, plus it was also capable of chopping off the enemy’s limbs or head in a single stroke.
  • It is categorized as a cutting weapon.

Evolution of the Longsword

The longsword is not really characterized by its long blade but by its longer grip – this indicating that the weapon is designed specifically for double-handed wielding. Swords featuring exceptionally long hilts are said to have been found throughout the period of the Middle Ages but despite this, the longsword still remain to be a rare piece that were not really identifiable until the late thirteenth or the early fourteenth century. The longsword remained as a weapon used for battle by wielders who wore full plate armor either on horseback or foot, and this went on throughout the late medieval era; in the fifteenth century, the longsword was eventually utilized even by mercenaries and unarmored soldiers.

Also during the fourteenth century, the utilization of the double-handed great sword was said to have originated with the Swiss, then by the sixteenth century, its use as a military weapon was mostly gone since this was the period when the German Landsknechte wielded the huge Zweihander for battle. As for the distinct weapon, the bastard sword, the hilted types were eventually produced during the very first half of the sixteenth century.

Advantages of the Longsword

The long sword may not really be that advantageous when it comes to the swiftness and swinging power that is usual for curved blades but there are numerous advantages of the longsword that has become useful on the battlefield.

  • One of the notable elements of the longsword is that it has a much longer reach and excellent thrusting abilities which is said to be much more difficult to defend against.
  • It has the capabilities of inflicting fatal wounds at a distance and is much faster compared to some other swords. This is due to the geometry of the blade since it is straight – meaning, its thrusts hit faster and has a more deceiving effect compared to that of a curved blade.
  • The longsword allows the wielder to easily penetrate heavy armor while also keeping them less exposed.
  • Since the weapon is strong and fast, using both hands when wielding the sword for parries and cuts only creates stronger and solid attacks.
  • The sword is known to be easy to maneuver and is agile, allowing the wielder to execute quick attacks or to seek openings.

Training is Everything

You Can Only Fight the Way You Practice – Miyamoto Musashi

The training philosophy of martial arts has been practiced throughout history and traditionally, martial arts were characterized as a form of fighting arts that have originated from Asia. The training philosophy of the arts includes moral codes that exhibit these philosophies as a way of life. Every individual who has trained in just one of the three philosophies – namely spiritual, mental, and physical ways of the art – is not considered as a complete or true martial artist and Western combative forms of martial arts such as fencing, boxing, or wrestling were not considered as martial arts. However, scholars from the West are somewhat altering the definition of what martial arts really is since any type of fighting art, regardless of whether it has a morality code or not, is recognized as a form of martial arts.

Because of the change of mentality among individuals, contemporary types of martial arts have surfaced in numerous places since practitioners continue to alter the traditional art by adding novel thoughts and ideas before giving these arts a new name to go by.

Altering the Training Philosophy

By altering the training philosophy of martial arts, a sports tweak is provided to create something new that can be practiced by many. Studying a form of martial art sport – whether this is collegiate fencing, kendo, karate, or a new favorite in western martial arts – requires one to have extra focus and seriousness unlike in other types of sports though it does not mean that sports such as tennis, football, or even rugby do not need mental discipline.

Martial arts definitely demand a unique and great sense of physical and mental control to avoid inflicting harm to oneself or to a training / sparring partner; simultaneously, this will also let one understand and determine how to adequately employ such techniques to its full advantage when necessary. This is the reason why the martial arts training philosophy (which also involves the code of chivalry) places a great amount of emphasis on things such as mental tranquility and anger control as a response to aggression, pain, or even fear; so because of this, martial arts has been viewed through philosophy as something that is not a test of skills, but a mental sparring competition with one’s inner opponent. If one is able to control their emotions and reactions by “keeping your cool” during situations where an opponent is executing an attack such as throws, punches, or stabs, the practitioner will then be able to easily face any form of adversity or challenges that are thrown at him or her. Studying the skills of lethal martial arts is one of the best ways to develop a practitioner’s character, as well as to develop their proficiency when it comes to self-defense.

The Martial Excellence

The martial excellence – traditionally referred to as prowess – brings a sense of responsibility that allows one to learn how to make use of their strength without any form of judgment. Training philosophy is all about how certain martial arts are utilized as well as teaching that these are educational and fun; however, engaging in these arts is not all about fun and enjoyment since it also teaches a practitioner true dedication that exhibits the greatness of ethical, physical, and mental development. Western martial arts offer great advantages for an individual of European descent since the art is basically derived from the same culture that has been based on the same elements that have established the excellence of the Western culture. In this case, the arts may fully provide a unique road to personal growth and development that aids in the creation of an individual’s sense of education and judgment.

Popular Types of Swords Throughout History

Throughout history, different types of swords have been utilized by warriors who charged and fought on the battlefield. Generally speaking, a sword is referred to as a bladed weapon created specifically for thrusting or slashing since it was made longer than a dagger or knife. However, the accurate definition of this term generally varies with its geographical region or historical period. A sword is primarily made up of a long blade that is fixed to a hilt and its blade could either be curved or straight. Swords that were made specifically for thrusting featured a blade with a pointed tip and these tended to be straighter compared to that of the slashing swords; as for these types of weapons, the blades of the slashing swords featured sharpened cutting edges on both of its sides. These are commonly curved for more efficiency.

There are numerous types of swords designed and fashioned for both slashing and thrusting, and listed below are the different types of swords available:

Medieval European Swords

The medieval sword was considered as the primary types of swords that were utilized by the knights and these – including the medieval armor – developed and evolved with new ideas, as well as technology. Right at the beginning of the period, the double-edged slashing swords were utilized for battle, but as time passed, it improved and turned into a much better, durable, diamond-shaped sword that could readily be thrust between the rings of a chain mail with ease.

The medieval sword was featured in different styles and types, and this also goes for the armor that was utilized on the battlefield. The numerous types of swords that were present in the medieval era included blades such as the falchion swords, broadsword, long swords, bastard swords, scimitar, batons, and the great swords.

Japanese Swords

A nihonto is among the numerous types of swords that have been produced as early as the Kofun era. Generally, the samurai swords refer to weapons with arched blades that were created right after the Heian period. There is a large number of Japanese blades that differ in shape, size, method of production, and field of application; some of the more known or popular nihonto includes the katana, tachi, odachi, and the wakizashi.

African Swords

Numerous African cultures have created their own styles and types of swords to utilize for numerous purposes; though a lot of the non-Arabic designs and concepts were typically the straight, double-edged longswords. Some of the most well-known African blades included the Flyssa, Nimcha, Kaskara, and the Takouba.

Chinese Swords

The types of swords of the Chinese also have a long history just like China; and during the prehistoric times, stone swords were utilized for various activities. A few records claim that bronze swords were traced back to classic bronze daggers that came from the Western Zhou era, yet these were not primarily utilized until the Eastern Zhou period. throughout history of China, there has been many different sword designs, and many of the countries around inspired their swords from the Chinese. some of the famous swords is the Chinese war sword, you can see it here.

Southeast Asian Swords

Knives and swords that were acquired in Southeast Asia were mostly influenced by the different types of swords from the Chinese, Indian, European and Middle Eastern. The generic term for a knife or sword wielded by a variety of ethnic groups was called the Dha and this is actually a Burmese word that translates to blade; its corresponding word in Thai would be darb or daab.

West and Central Asian Swords

The whole Islamic world from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century was influenced by the types of swords such as the scimitar or saif – the curved and single-edged blades. The Turks from Central Asia began utilizing cavalry swords right at the start of the late Hsiung Nu era, and the earliest forms of the single-edged and curved Turkish blades could be linked to the Kok Turk and Hsiung Nu empires. These types of swords were created out of high carbon crucible and pattern-welded steel together with slightly arched blades with a single sharpened edge.

Longsword VS Katana – Who Will Win?

The most popular, iconic, and recognizable weapons in history have always been the European longsword and the Japanese katana – both having great designs that have evolved and developed to efficiently face the numerous challenges that were present in the battlefield. Each of the weapons have been improved and tested throughout time under the unforgivingly strenuous and devastating trials of war and battles, adapting to the circumstances to provide warriors with extremely durable, efficient, and powerful tools that were utilized on the battlefield.

The Katana and the Longsword

The idea of evaluating the katana vs longsword can be truly intriguing, yet attempting to do so can be quite interesting, as well as challenging; it is actually more complicated than simply throwing out the question, “The katana VS longsword, which one is better?”. Both of the swords feature unique and interesting characteristics that categorize the blades as part of historical weapons, and some of these attributes include their specific weight, length, shape, as well as their blade geometry, point, edge, and hilt configuration. Additionally, when these weapons are wielded correctly, both swords possess a specific core of gravity as well as inherent balance.

The Katana

The katana is known to be one of the traditionally made blades that were greatly utilized by the samurai warriors of the ancient and the feudal period of Japan The katana can be described by its distinctly unique appearance that features a single-edged and curved blade with either a squared or circular guard; additionally, it also features a long grip to accommodate both of the wielder’s hands. The katana has grown popular due to its cutting power and effectiveness, plus its single, wedge-like, and hardened edge has been claimed to exhibit excellent sharpness.


A longsword is a specific type of European weapon that is depicted by having a cruciform hilt and a double handed grip that measures around six to eleven inches; it also features a straight, double-edged blade that approximately measures around thirty-three to forty-three inches. The design of the longsword, specifically its hilt arrangement and center of gravity, allows the wielder to take full advantage of the weapon’s blade, allowing them to stab or thrust further compared to when they utilize a short sword; additionally, having a blade with a narrower point allows the user to thrust faster with excellent penetration compared to wider blades that are developed specifically for cutting.  The longsword has been utilized since the ancient times where fencers during the mid-sixteenth century displayed that straight weapons were able to execute quicker thrusts in a more deceptive manner compared to semi-curved or curved blades.

Katana VS Longsword

When it comes to the katana vs longsword, both were considered as established thrust and cut weapons and are both efficient for slicing, slashing, as well as stabbing moves; also, these weapons make use of defensive and counter-striking displacements and each of the swords made use of a specific style of swordsmanship that was exhibited through proper control of timing and distance. Since the relative weight of the katana and longsword were almost equal, the differences all go down to both swords’ geometry of how each of these can be utilized and moved: curved blades that are shorter can quickly slash a target whereas a longer, straighter, and narrow blade can instead, thrust faster.  This only means that one specifically emphasized swift and quick slicing moves that are considered decisive single strikes, while the other emphasized quick, long-reaching stabs in combination attacks.

Moreover, there were also evidences that show both swords created in different versions that were specifically for armored battle, while other versions were intended for unarmored battle. Because of this, it only further complicates all efforts to ascertain the design’s sturdiness and durability.

Kendo Martial Art and Sport

Kendo is known as a contemporary type of Japanese martial art that has descended from Kenjutsu; practitioners utilize the shinai or bamboo swords and the bogu which is the protective armor of a Kendoka. Kenjutsu is considered as a term for every koryu school that teaches Japanese swordsmanship, particularly those that have been utilized before the Meiji Restoration period.

Contemporary Forms of Kendo

The contemporary styles of Kendo and Iaido were founded during the twentieth century which included the modern curriculum of kenjutsu; this art first originated from the samurai class of Japan and unlike Kendo, kenjutsu means the art, method, or technique of the sword. In this day and age, Kendo is continuously practiced in Japan, as well as in other nations all over the world; this is because Kendo is a type of activity that mixes the practice of martial arts, as well as the values combined with strenuous physical sport-like activities. Additionally, it is also considered as a type of sport that sets extreme significance on etiquette.

Brief History of Kendo

There are generally two theories regarding the origins of modern-day Kendo: one is that the main origin of Kendo lies in the classic art of fencing where each participant faces off using actual swords. The martial art was claimed to be introduced from China for more than a thousand years in the past; though another theory states that Kendo was refined from Japan’s own style and type of fencing.

Samurai warriors who practiced and trained in the art of fencing took a long span of time to actually perfect this; also, the practice of this art with the use of swords was eventually included in studying Buddhism, morals, and most especially Zen. This was because the samurai also had to practice the art of spiritual training; so at the end of the eighteenth century, safe bamboo practice weapons and protective gear appeared which eventually made the present-form of Kendo appear and flourish.  In this day and age, Kendo has become an extremely popular activity in schools and it has become a type of sport that offers both mental and physical training.

Kendo Equipment

Practicing Kendo requires the Kendoka to wear and use the classic style of Kendo gear which consists of a bogu and one or two shinais. The shinai represents the katana and is usually made from four bamboo slats that are often held in place using leather fittings; additionally, modern variations of the shinai are also utilized and these have carbon fibers that are reinforced with resin slats.

Kendo makes use of various strikes and attacks that involve a single edge as well as the tip of the bokuto or shinai. It is necessary to utilize protective armor when practicing the art of Kendo to protect specific target areas that are located on the practitioner’s head, body, and arms; a Kendoka’s head is protected by the men (stylized helmet) that features a men-gane or metal grill that is present to protect the wearer’s face. There are also durable fabric and leather flaps called the tsuki-dare that are present to protect one’s throat, as well as the men-dare (padded fabric flaps) to safeguard the side of the wearer’s shoulders and neck. The other necessary Kendo equipment includes the following:

  • Kote – these are thick, long and padded fabric gloves that protect the Kendoka’s wrist, hands, and forearms.
  • Do – a breastplate that protects the torso.
  • Tare – part that is made up of three thick and bulky vertical fabric flaps that protect the groin and waist.
  • Tenugi – a cotton towel that is wrapped around the Kendoka’s head and is worn under the men to work as a base for it to fit properly; it is also necessary to absorb perspiration while engaging in Kendo practice.

Clothing worn beneath the bogu consists of the keikogi or Kendogi (jacket) as well as a hakama which is an article of clothing that is split in the middle to create two wide-legged trousers.

Kendo Techniques Kendo techniques are made up of both thrusts and strikes, whereas strikes are only executed towards specific areas called the datotsu bui and these include the head, wrist, or the body – all of these are well-protected by armor. The specific targets in Kendo include the men, yoko-men or sayu-men, the right kote which can be targeted at any period, the left kote when in a raised stance, plus the right or left side of the do.

Remember that the tsuki (thrusts) are only allowed to target the throat since incorrectly executed thrusts could seriously injure the practitioner’s neck. Generally, thrusting moves during free practice, as well as competitions are restricted only to the senior and more experienced dan leveled Kendoka.