I like to say that I’m fully aware there are several sword fighting techniques and I don’t know any of them. Luckily though in order to be a devoted sword collector, you don’t necessarily need to be a fencing master. As a young lad I was an avid watcher of Masters of the Universe and particularly enjoyed He-Man, not the speed-o he always wore though. When it came time for combat, he pulled out his two daggers. Though they were fantasy swords, they did resemble miniature samurai swords. I had my own makeshift fantasy swords that I would use as I jumped around living room mimicking Mr. He-Man himself.
Later in life, probably 2 or 3 years later, I became a fan of different types of swords when I picked up a Sega Genesis and started playing Mortal Kombat II. If you’re not familiar, it’s a side by side fighting game that is loosely based on a martial arts style fighting. It has very developed characters; meaning everything from their clothes to their stance is unique from one another. They each have their own set of moves, weapons and limitations. There was a woman named after the Japanese sword, Katana. And several of the fighters has sword like weapons.
Thankfully, and as an ode to my mother, I did not wind up like this guy with a dragon sword shrine tattoo on my back. Collecting bleach swords, samurai swords and other types of swords is a hobby that many people are picking up because there is a mystery that surrounds the tradition of ninja swords and the Japanese swords themselves. Stories accompany each sword, from the way they were made to the way they were intended to be used. Some of the Japanese swords are very sacred in their culture and held at a high regard. Whether it’s a fencing sword or an ancient ninja sword, there are proper way to care take and display your sword collection.
You don’t have to watch many action movies to get your sword fix, especially if the setting takes place during medieval times. Medieval swords are a very common type of sword and one of the few that aren’t affiliated with the Japanese culture. If you’ve seen Braveheart, you know what type of Medieval sword I’m talking about. Some of the characters in the movie even use wooden swords. Because of limited resources and lack of time and knowledge, people would carve anything they could get their hands on to make real swords. My definition of a real sword is something sharp that could kill someone.
Ninja swords have become very popular through the visibility of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As odd as it may seem to adults, kids were fascinated with these four fighting ninjas. Each character has a specific color to tell them apart, but they all have a katana sword that made them unstoppable when fending off enemies. In retrospect, four turtles waving around katana swords probably isn’t the most appropriate form of television for kids and some would even argue that the show promoted violence. Ninja swords were and probably still used by ninjas; real ninjas in several Asian countries. They are a bit of a myth, but it something I would fear encountering if I ever wind up in a dark alley at night in Tokyo.
Some Japanese sword owners just let the samurai swords sit in their closet or even on display, but rarely do you ever see someone using their katana swords and even more rare to see someone using it properly. There are hundreds of years or training and technique behind the proper way to hold, carry and swing the katana sword. If swung properly, the katanas are the sharpest Japanese swords in existence and can cut through anything you put in front of it. If you’ve ever taken a trip to Japan and witnessed some of the incredible things the katana can do, surely you’ve developed a new appreciation for the ninja sword swinger.
Fencing is a very niche sport in the United States, but it does have a very loyal following and participants. Using fencing swords requires a great deal of practice, precision and more practice. Several universities across American offer fencing classes and there is even a profession fencing association. The sport is based on European martial arts combined with the use of a fencing sword. Fencing Swords are long and narrow and usually have a covered handle to secure your hand in place. There are very special techniques involved with fencing swords, much like the ninja swords and the way a katana is designed to be swung. The motions in the attack of a fencing sword are much different than those used in Japanese swords and the historical aspect of fencing is also much different than Japanese samurai swords.
Whether your Japanese katana is a Bugei, Nihonto, Daisho, Shirasaya, Ronin or other japanese Katana or battle ready katana, you can be certain that it'll cut through just about anything!
Fencing swords haven’t exactly made it the mainstream here in America. Part of the enigma of the katana sword is where the appeal comes to Americans. That said, there was a long time running show in America that featured the character “Zorro” who used a fencing sword to fight opponents and leave his signature “Z” that he would carve into things with his fencing sword. The fencing sword he uses, I dig. The little sleep mask he wears, not so much.
One smart person that has taken full advantage of the Japanese sword obsession is the people behind the anime series, Bleach. Bleach swords have a bigger following than just about anything. The series itself is a huge hit internationally and the show centers around a Japanese samurai sword that later gets upgraded a massive meat cleaver. Bleach swords are a huge hit on the internet and several toy companies make the bleach sword imitations. Beyond bleach swords, the fantasy swords and the medieval swords or any other type of sword you think of; one thing that lacks the abundance of these weapons surfacing in cartoons and movies is a nice sized WARNING associated with them.
Whether it’s a Japanese sword or a medieval sword they are showcasing in the movies or cartoons, kids are watching and they are paying attention to the types, sizes and uses of the fantasy swords and that’s not necessarily a good thing. When kids watch at a young age, they emulate. Emulating ninjas using Ninja swords could potentially be dangerous. The katana swords that the Teen Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles used took it pretty far, but outright stabbing people in the face like they do with Bleach Swords is absurd. Listening to Eminem’s music is one thing, Dressing like Kanye is another. But carrying around samurai swords is taking it too far.
Whether you're a sword collector, play sword fighting video games, have an antique nihonto (real Japanese swords) or just watch movies; you've probably been exposed to swords at some point in your life. Most of the time you probably aren't even aware that you're surrounded by Japanese swords, katanas and medieval. Wooden swords are probably being made by your children we speak. Criminals make mini samurai swords in prision to kill each other in the yard with. Hell, the most famous and successful cartoons and movies have real swords in them. They are everywhere and although I am a fan, I do think they need to emphasize how dangerous they really are.