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Sword of the samurai

sword of the samurai

3. Febr. Bei 'Sword of the Samurai' dürft ihr selber in die Haut eines solchen Kämpfers schlüpfen und müsst euer Können mit dem Schwert in. Enter Japan in the age of warring states. At the center of this role-playing, action- adventure simulation of combat, statesmanship and intrigue, you are a samurai. Im Mittelpunkt dieser Rollenspiele, Action-Adventure-Simulationen von Kampf, Staatskunst und Intrigen stehen Sie als Samurai-Krieger, der um Ehre kämpft.

As the Edo period progressed, blade quality declined, though ornamentation was refined. Originally, simple and tasteful engravings known as horimono were added for religious reasons.

Under the Tokugawa shogunate , swordmaking and the use of firearms declined. Masahide traveled the land teaching what he knew to all who would listen, and swordsmiths rallied to his cause and ushered in a second renaissance in Japanese sword smithing.

The arrival of Matthew Perry in and the subsequent Convention of Kanagawa forcibly reintroduced Japan to the outside world; the rapid modernization of the Meiji Restoration soon followed.

Overnight, the market for swords died, many swordsmiths were left without a trade to pursue, and valuable skills were lost.

At the same time, kendo was incorporated into police training so that police officers would have at least the training necessary to properly use one.

In time, it was rediscovered that soldiers needed to be armed with swords, and over the decades at the beginning of the 20th century swordsmiths again found work.

These smiths produced fine works that stand with the best of the older blades for the Emperor and other high-ranking officials.

The students of Sadakatsu went on to be designated Intangible Cultural Assets, "Living National Treasures," as they embodied knowledge that was considered to be fundamentally important to the Japanese identity.

The ban was overturned through a personal appeal by Dr. During a meeting with General Douglas MacArthur , Honma produced blades from the various periods of Japanese history and MacArthur was able to identify very quickly what blades held artistic merit and which could be considered purely weapons.

After the Edo period, swordsmiths turned increasingly to the production of civilian goods. The Occupation and its regulations almost put an end to the production of nihonto.

Ranging from small letter openers to scale replica "wallhangers" , these items are commonly made from stainless steel which makes them either brittle if made from cutlery-grade series stainless steel or poor at holding an edge if made from series stainless steel and have either a blunt or very crude edge.

In Japan, genuine edged hand-made Japanese swords, whether antique or modern, are classified as art objects and not weapons and must have accompanying certification in order to be legally owned.

Some companies and independent smiths outside Japan produce katana as well, with varying levels of quality. Japanese swords were often forged with different profiles, different blade thicknesses, and varying amounts of grind.

Wakizashi , for instance, were not simply scaled-down versions of katana ; they were often forged in hira-zukuri or other such forms which were very rare on other swords.

The forging of a Japanese blade typically took weeks or even months and was considered a sacred art. There was a smith to forge the rough shape, often a second smith apprentice to fold the metal, a specialist polisher called a togi as well as the various artisans that made the koshirae the various fittings used to decorate the finished blade and saya sheath including the tsuka hilt , fuchi collar , kashira pommel , and tsuba hand guard.

It is said that the sharpening and polishing process takes just as long as the forging of the blade itself. The legitimate Japanese sword is made from Japanese steel " Tamahagane ".

The hadagane , for the outer skin of the blade, is produced by heating a block of raw steel, which is then hammered out into a bar, and the flexible back portion.

This is then cooled and broken up into smaller blocks which are checked for further impurities and then reassembled and reforged.

During this process the billet of steel is heated and hammered, split and folded back upon itself many times and re-welded to create a complex structure of many thousands of layers.

Each different steel is folded differently, in order to provide the necessary strength and flexibility to the different steels.

The practice of folding also ensures a somewhat more homogeneous product, with the carbon in the steel being evenly distributed and the steel having no voids that could lead to fractures and failure of the blade in combat.

The shingane for the inner core of the blade is of a relatively softer steel with a lower carbon content than the hadagane. For this, the block is again hammered, folded and welded in a similar fashion to the hadagane, but with fewer folds.

The new composite steel billet is then heated and hammered out ensuring that no air or dirt is trapped between the two layers of steel.

The bar increases in length during this process until it approximates the final size and shape of the finished sword blade. A triangular section is cut off from the tip of the bar and shaped to create what will be the kissaki.

At this point in the process, the blank for the blade is of rectangular section. This rough shape is referred to as a sunobe. The sunobe is again heated, section by section and hammered to create a shape which has many of the recognisable characteristics of the finished blade.

These are a thick back mune , a thinner edge ha , a curved tip kissaki , notches on the edge hamachi and back munemachi which separate the blade from the tang nakago.

Details such as the ridge line shinogi another distinctive characteristic of the Japanese sword, are added at this stage of the process. The sunobe is finished by a process of filing and scraping which leaves all the physical characteristics and shapes of the blade recognisable.

The surface of the blade is left in a relatively rough state, ready for the hardening processes. The sunobe is then covered all over with a clay mixture which is applied more thickly along the back and sides of the blade than along the edge.

The blade is left to dry while the smith prepares the forge for the final heat treatment of the blade, the yaki-ire, the hardening of the cutting edge.

This process takes place in a darkened smithy, traditionally at night, in order that the smith can judge by eye the colour and therefore the temperature of the sword as it is repeatedly passed through the glowing charcoal.

When the time is deemed right traditionally the blade should be the colour of the moon in February and August which are the two months that appear most commonly on dated inscriptions on the tang , the blade is plunged edge down and point forward into a tank of water.

The precise time taken to heat the sword, the temperature of the blade and of the water into which it is plunged are all individual to each smith and they have generally been closely guarded secrets.

In the different schools of swordmakers there are many subtle variations in the materials used in the various processes and techniques outlined above, specifically in the form of clay applied to the blade prior to the yaki-ire, but all follow the same general procedures.

The application of the clay in different thicknesses to the blade allows the steel to cool more quickly along the thinner coated edge when plunged into the tank of water and thereby develop into the harder form of steel called martensite , which can be ground to razor-like sharpness.

The thickly coated back cools more slowly retaining the pearlite steel characteristics of relative softness and flexibility. The precise way in which the clay is applied, and partially scraped off at the edge, is a determining factor in the formation of the shape and features of the crystalline structure known as the hamon.

This distinctive tempering line found near the edge is one of the main characteristics to be assessed when examining a blade. The martensitic steel which forms from the edge of the blade to the hamon is in effect the transition line between these two different forms of steel, and is where most of the shapes, colours and beauty in the steel of the Japanese sword are to be found.

The variations in the form and structure of the hamon are all indicative of the period, smith, school or place of manufacture of the sword.

As well as the aesthetic qualities of the hamon, there are, perhaps not unsurprisingly, real practical functions. The hardened edge is where most of any potential damage to the blade will occur in battle.

This hardened edge is capable of being reground and sharpened many times, although the process will alter the shape of the blade.

Altering the shape will allow more resistance when fighting in hand-to-hand combat. Almost all blades are decorated, although not all blades are decorated on the visible part of the blade.

Once the blade is cool, and the mud is scraped off, grooves and markings hi or bo-hi may be cut into it. One of the most important markings on the sword is performed here: These are cut into the tang or the hilt-section of the blade, where they will be covered by the hilt later.

The tang is never supposed to be cleaned; doing this can reduce the value of the sword by half or more. The purpose is to show how well the steel ages.

Some other marks on the blade are aesthetic: Some are more practical. The presence of a groove the most basic type is called a hi reduces the weight of the sword yet keeps its structural integrity and strength.

The tachi became the primary weapon on the battlefield during the Kamakura period, used by cavalry. The sword was mostly considered as a secondary weapon until then, used in the battlefield only after the bow and polearm were no longer feasible.

Its moderate curve, however, allowed for effective thrusting as well. The hilt was held with two hands, though a fair amount of one-handed techniques exist.

Two other martial arts were developed specifically for training to draw the sword and attack in one motion.

For cutting, there was a specific technique called " ten-uchi. As the sword is swung downwards, the elbow joint drastically extends at the last instant, popping the sword into place.

From there, fluidly continuing along the motion wrought by ten-uchi , the arms would follow through with the stroke, dragging the sword through its target.

At full speed, the swing will appear to be full stroke, the sword passing through the targeted object. The segments of the swing are hardly visible, if at all.

Assuming that the target is, for example, a human torso, ten-uchi will break the initial resistance supplied by shoulder muscles and the clavicle.

The follow through would continue the slicing motion, through whatever else it would encounter, until the blade inherently exited the body, due to a combination of the motion and its curved shape.

Nearly all styles of kenjutsu share the same five basic guard postures. As such, blocking an oncoming blow blade-to-blade was generally avoided.

In fact, evasive body maneuvers were preferred over blade contact by most, but, if such was not possible, the flat or the back of the blade was used for defense in many styles, rather than the precious edge.

A popular method for defeating descending slashes was to simply beat the sword aside. In some instances, an "umbrella block", positioning the blade overhead, diagonally point towards the ground, pommel towards the sky , would create an effective shield against a descending strike.

Japanese swords were carried in several different ways, varying throughout Japanese history. The style most commonly seen in "samurai" movies is called buke-zukuri , with the katana and wakizashi , if also present carried edge up, with the sheath thrust through the obi sash.

Originally, they would carry the sword with the blade turned down. This was a more comfortable way for the armored samurai to carry his very long sword or to draw while mounted.

The bulk of the samurai armor made it difficult to draw the sword from any other place on his body. When unarmored, samurai would carry their sword with the blade facing up.

This made it possible to draw the sword and strike in one quick motion. In one such method of drawing the sword, the samurai would turn the sheath downward ninety degrees and pull it out of his sash just a bit with his left hand, then gripping the hilt with his right hand he would slide it out while sliding the sheath back to its original position.

Hilts of wakizashi and katana. Nakago tang of a wakizashi blade, showing a habaki blade collar. The habaki blade collar which locks the blade into the saya scabbard.

An Edo era wakizashi koshirae. This example omits any tsuka-ito handle wrapping , showing bare stingray skin.

Note the decoration of the saya. Elaborate Handguard of the Edo period. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This section needs additional citations for verification.

Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

This article needs additional citations for verification. Japanese swordsmithing and ja: This section does not cite any sources.

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Various types of swords in other countries as well as Japan. Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths: From to the Present.

Nihonto no Soe Kogatana in Japanese. The Weapons and Spirit of the Japanese Warrior. The New International Encyclopaedia. Dodd, Mead and company.

The arts of the Japanese sword. A Visual History of Arms and Armor. To keep our review sections clean and helpful, we will remove any reviews that break these guidelines or our terms of use.

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Enter Japan in the Age of Warring States. At the center of this role-playing, action-adventure simulation of combat, statesmanship and intrigue, you are a samurai warrior struggling for Honor.

More important than life itself, Honor is crucial to achieving your ultimate goal: In Sword of the Samurai, you will be part of the culture of feudal Japan, and you must learn to live by its rules.

To succeed as a samurai, you must think like the samurai. You will fight duels, lead troops on the battlefields, and defend your family against assassins and kidnappers.

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