What made a samurai great, besides their mad warrior skills, were the weapons they used…specifically the sword! It is hard to imagine a samurai without a sword, which makes sense, because they were never without one! In looking at samurai swords, there are three main types, each one serving a different purpose and hand crafted from steel, folded, and hammered.
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Boasting a lad of more than two feet in length, the first of the primary samurai swords is the daito, more commonly known as the katana. This also proved to be the most popular of the samurai swords and was worn pushed through a kimono belt. Due to the challenges of forging swords of the katana length, as well as the accompanying ritual prayers, it was a long process in making these weapons. Mainly used for outdoor fighting, distinctive features of the katana are a round guard, curved blade, and skin wrapped handle.
Another main type of samurai sword is the tachi. This was the longest sword used by the samurai and hung on a cord, often being an ideal choice for fighting on horseback. This weapon was worn on the back, attached by the cord, which ran diagonally across the chest. The length of the blade, as well as the handle, served samurais nicely as it gave them an added advantage of extended reach and force toward their enemies on the battlefield. However, the tachi was only for the strongest of samurai warriors, due to its size and extra weight. A longer version of the tachi was developed later, called a nodachi.
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For the samurais who weren’t keen on carrying long swords, there was a third option known as the wakizashi, which is commonly referred to as the kodachi. Useful for indoor fighting, close quarter combat, and practice, the wakizashi ranged from one to two feet in length and was considered a backup weapon. These swords were worn by the Shogun samurai class, an esteemed group that carried both the wakizashi and the katana, and were feared by all.
In addition to the main samurai sword categories, there are sub-types. One of the more known sub-types, which also sports a cool name, is the Chisa. This sword is a member of the katana class and came about to meet the need that arose for a cutting weapon sized in between a katana and a wakizashi. The Chisa was a foot shorter than a regular katana and was easy to use for indoor fighting. Interesting enough, some Chisa derived from regular sized, damaged katanas which were cut down.
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