What is a katana?
Martial arts and the Katana sword
The katana is a long, curve, and single-edged sword that represents the soul of a Samurai. It has been renowned for its distinct sharpness, cutting ability, and beauty. Historically, only the best swordsmiths were allowed to forge a katana. Learn more about what is a katana sword.
Through the years, Japanese sword arts have been practiced around the world. Some of these arts still uphold to the traditional philosophies and morals in sword fighting and katana techniques while some have adapted to the modern times and developed into competitive sports. To ensure safety while practicing and studying the Japanese martial arts, different kinds of training swords and weapons are used.
The Practice weapons for Japanese martial arts and katana training:
Four basic styles:
Shinai is a fencing stick used to represent a sword in katana training and in sword fighting martial art kendo. Its name is derived from the word shinau that means “to bend” or “to flex”.
The shinai is made of bamboo slats held together by cloth or leather. This type of practice weapon is divided into five intersecting sections or nodes with the following meaning – hidden aspect, person (jin), earth (chi), and heaven (ten).
3. Iaito Training Swords
This training sword is usually made of aluminum-zinc alloy and does not a have sharp cutting edge. Iaito is not intended for contact and sword combat techniques because of its low quality material. It can only be used for solo drills.
4. Tanren bo
Japanese Martial arts
Basic things to learn:
a. Developing reflexes or quick responses to attacks
The word iaido means “the way of mental presence and immediate action”. This martial art trains a practitioner (iaidoka) to quickly respond to attacks. It does not perform sparring of any kind but only involves practicing against imaginary opponents.
Practice weapons in iaido include bokken, unsharpened katanas, and the katana replica iaito. More advanced iaido practitioners would also use a real Japanese sword (shinken).
This martial art is performed by redirecting the attacker’s force rather than opposing it with your own strength. This technique, thus, requires less physical energy. Some martial art schools include firearm disarming techniques in their aikido training.
Weapons used in aikido are short wooden staff, bokken, and tanto knife while the big rectangular bat (tanren bo) is used to develop strength.
This sword art aims to discipline the human character by following the principles of the katana including proper stance, distance (from the opponent), and proper cutting. Kendo first developed a strong influence in Zen Buddhism wherein the kendo practitioners (kendoka) observe deep meditation to attain awakening or enlightenment.
Modern kendo techniques would include sparring, strikes, and thrusts targeting the wrist, head, and body which are all protected by the armor bogu. Practitioners use a shout every time they make a strike to express their fighting spirit. The bamboo sword (shinai) is the primary training weapon for this martial art.
Kendo is widely practiced around the world today and is considered a popular sport. Proofs to this are the establishment of International Kendo Federation (started in 1970) and the World Kendo Championship which is held every three years since 1970.
Katana training techniques related articles:
History of the Katana – Learn the story how ancient long Japanese swords evolved into Samurai katanas and discover why they are considered a sacred part of Japanese culture and heritage.
Katana making and marking – Find out about the complexities of forging a katana – choosing the right steel, folding and heating, marking, polishing and sharpening the katana blade, and making the katana handle.
Original katanas – Discover the qualities of battle-ready katanas best for katana training. Know their types, and how they are produced. Some of them could be antique katanas but there are also modern functional katanas like Paul Chen katanas.