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Did You Know? 5 Fast Facts About Katanas

April 02, 2017

Did You Know? 5 Fast Facts About Katanas

Originating out of Feudal Japan, the katana is one of the most recognizable swords of all time. It's characterized by a curved, single-edged blade with either a circular or square-shaped guard. Here are some other fun facts about the katana.

#1) Creating the Katana was a Religious Process

In " Katana: The Samurai Sword," author Stephen Turnbull explains that creating a traditional Japanese katana was -- and in many ways still is -- a religious process for the swordsmith. According to Turnbull, the kami (dieties) are invoked before the swordsmith. Other reports suggest that swordsmiths would purify themselves through fasting in preparation of forging a katana. When the swordsmith began forging the blade, he would wear a white robe similar to those worn by priests.

#2) Katanas Must be Properly Stored to Avoid Damage

The katana must be properly stored to avoid damage. For a typical curved katana with a blade length of 60 to 73 cm, this means storing it tip-down in its shealth with the edge facing upwards. The purpose of this is to preserve the katana's blade; thus, protecting against wear and tear.

#3) Katanas are Banned in the U.K.

In response to a string of attacks involving this sword type, the British government added the katana to its list of banned weapons as part of the Offensive Weapons Order. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that it's illegal to own a katana in the U.K. There are numerous exceptions to this ban, including martial arts practitioners, historical reenactments actors and collectors. (Note: We have been shipping our swords to UK customers without any customs issues)

#4) Katanas are Used in Many Martial Arts Practices

The katana is arguably the most prolific and widely used sword type in martial arts practices. While it was originally designed for samurai warriors in Feudal Japan, the katana is now used among practitioners of martial arts. Some of the most common forms of martial arts that uses the katana includes Iaijutsu, battōjutsu, iaidō, kenjutsu, kendo, aikido, ninjutsu, and Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū.

#5) Katana 'Exercise' is a Popular Pastime

In addition to being used in martial arts, katanas are also used in exercise. The Japan Times recently published an article about this female-only activity. Known as "katana exercise," it was created by Ukon Takafuji, chief of Japan's Takafuji-ryu school of classical dance. The exercise begins and ends with a bow, much like the warrior's code of Bushido. Students learn the basics of using a katana, including how to slash and thrust, as well as maintain good balance and posture.

Photo credit: Bex Ross

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