A Katana, more commonly known as the ‘Samurai Sword’ is a Japanese sword. The term Katana is applied to any Japanese sword with a blade length of more than 60 cm (23.6 inches). But most of the time, any Japanese sword is mistaken for a Katana.
If you’ve seen the movie, “The Last Samurai”, you’d know what a Katana sword looks like. These swords were used by the ancient Japanese Samurais in their warfare. Katana swords are sleek, slender and curved. They have a single edged blade, a circular or square guard and it has a long grip so that you can hold the sword with both the hands.
Katana swords are well known for their sharpness and cutting ability. They can slit anything into two just by a mere swing of the sword.
Nihonto is a type of single edged sword which is now generally referred to as Katana sword. They are about 70-90 cm (27.6 to 35.4 inches) in length with a curvaceous blade. This is completely different from chokuto, which has a straight blade.
Katana swords came into origin in late 14th century during the Muromachi period (1392-1573). These swords had their blades facing up which helped the samurai in their battle to fight their enemies with a faster response. They could cut their enemies in a quick single motion.
Katana swords were also used in the day to day lives of the samurais. A katana has a very legendary and almost a mystical history. Only a samurai was allowed to carry a katana sword. Any other person who was found with a Katana was killed on the spot.
A samurai linked the Katana swords to their souls and used it only as a last resort to fight their enemies. Katana swords were always carried with another short sword or dagger called a wazashi which measured up to 12-24 inches in length. The paired swords were referred to as daisho (the long and the short) by the Japanese.
The Katana swords were used for cutting while the Wazashi was used for stabbing. The art and technique of using both the swords at the same time is very difficult. Only a skilled kenjutsu (the samurai sword artist) could handle both the weapons at the same time. The technique of using both the swords at the same time is called nito’ichi (two swords as one). This term was given by the legendary Japanese swordsman of the 16th century, Miyamoto Musashi.