Ninja sword history
Discover the fascinating history of the ninjato, the legendary sword used by ninja warriors
A ninja is a Japanese warrior highly trained in unconventional arts of war. They have a sword called ninjato which they bring along wherever they go. The exact Ninja sword history is still hard to trace until today.
Despite the many passed on stories about ninjas, there are still doubts whether they truly existed in the past as few people consider their story a myth.
The ninjas are very opposite to the honorable Samurai warriors. While Samurais fight with dignity and in loyalty to the higher ranks of society, the ninja fights in deceit. Ninjas were highly trained for assassination, subterfuge, espionage, stealth, and camouflage. They were taught to become sneaky fighters that work well at night.
Considered as outlaws and outcasts, ninjas practice and train secretly in far flung, mountainous areas. There, they make their weaponry out of limited resources and their sword makers can be short on skills.
What is a ninja sword?
One of the most used ninja weapons was the ninjato or the ninja sword. It had a straight blade (shorter than a katana sword but longer than a wakizashi) that was primarily used for stabbing and as a survival tool unlike Katana swords which are suitable for slashing opponents.
The traditional ninjato sword had a sheath or scabbard longer than the sword itself to accommodate in the sheath other tools and smaller knives or daggers used for their mission. The scabbard also had a detachable bottom which had its own purpose. The ninja swords were much cheaper than katana swords because of the quality of materials used.
The ninja sword history started during the emergence of ninjas in the 14th Century feudal Japan.
Generally about 20 inches long, the sword of ninja warriors had a single-edged blade with an oversized tsuba or hand guard. But contradicting to the common belief, the ninjato was not actually a very straight sword. It was slightly curved but only looked straighter compared to the other swords of its time.
The tricks of the Ninja
Ninjas often worked closely to their enemies (as spies, impostors, and other forms of cheats). The shortness of a ninjato works well in situations wherein the ninja faces a combat in closed places or quarters like houses (a traditional Japanese home was small and had low ceiling). A ninja could fight easily and move freely with the short sword. A Samurai who had a long Katana would have limited movement in these circumstances, so Samurais prefer fighting in an open area.
As said earlier, the sheath of a ninja sword is longer than the sword itself to give space to other smaller weapons. But this is also to deceive opponents. Once a ninja draws his sword out from the scabbard, the enemy would expect it to be a longer sword only to find out it is not and so he could not prepare for the ninja attack.
The ninjas did not only have daggers and swords, they as well had powders of medicine, poisons, and fireworks hidden in their sword sheaths – they would use these to distract, kill or escape from their adversaries. Remember the detachable tip of the scabbard? It could be used as a breathing tube when they would jump into a river for escape and stay underwater for a long time.
While a Samurai sword was symbolic and signifies pride and honor, the real ninja sword was less dramatic than that. The best word to describe the ninjatos was practical. It had many uses and function despite of it being of less quality using inferior materials from its blade to its handle. For a ninja, he had a sword to do the job.
Other ninja weapons were: smoke bombs, firecrackers, shobo (a small ring worn on the finger when in a hand-to-hand combat), ninja stars, and kunai knives to mention a few.