Chokuto Sword

Name:  Chokuto Sword or Chukandomowas
Blade Length: More than 22 cm approximately 27 to 30
Handle Length: 20-26 cm
Weight: .50 to .70 kg
Used By: Kamakura Shogunate warriors
Function: Side arm and later on Temple offerings
Place of Origin: Probably originated in ancient China brought to Japan via Korea during the 3rd century
Date Produced: Produce prior to the 10th century
Special Features: Straight sword similar to ancient Chinese swords found in the 2nd century BCE

Chokuto Origins

The Japanese Chokuto was used as early as before the Heian period from 794 to 1185. Ancient Chokuto was straight and has a single edge. There are versions where the other edge was double but, this does not cover the entire blade though. The original design for Chokuto sword was from ancient China. It was imported to Japan via Korea. This weapon is viewed as forgiving due to the fighting technique from China to Japan. It is based on the Han Dynasty long straight iron sword which has a ring pommel. The ancient Chokuto was one of the first Japanese swords that were ever forged.  This weapon was created before the use of differential tempering technology existed. Two of its best known styles are: Hira-Zukuri and Kiriha-Zukuri Tsukurikomi. This style gives a certain identity to these swords to make these appear different from the Tachi and Katana. However, some scholars believe that these two styles were combined to produce the Tachi. The blade was completely straight on this Chokuto sword. The Mongol Empire use curved swords that were more effective in battle as compared to this straight bladed sword. Thus, began the decline in popularity of this sword as a weapon during battle. The Kamakura Shogunate warriors were defeated because of using straight bladed swords. The Mongol curved swords were lethal. This led to an influx of curved swords that came from China into the Middle East and other Asian empires such as Japan.

Features of Chokuto Sword

  • Single Blade. This is a one edged Japanese sword. Only one side has its blade sharpened. However, this does not limit the sword from being effective during battle. Because it is light weight it is easy to manipulate in hitting the target for close quarter combats. He can stab his opponent easily. The length of this blade allows a distance for the fighter against his opponent. These blades are homogenous; not folded and allow greater strength and flexibility. This sword can be used for throwing
  • Handle. The Chokuto has a strong handle that allows for a firm grip. The handle of this sword is metallic as oppose to the wooden handle use in most swords of that period. The handle is design with curves to allow the warrior to hold with a firm grip on this handle. This allows the fighter to use one hand however; he can use his second hand partially if the need should arise for it. The handle has a smaller grip and looks more like that of a scimitar
  • Strong hilt. The hilt of this sword appears like a wing and a ring. This sword is fitted with a hilt separating the blade and the handle of the Chokuto. The formation of this hilt made it effective in protecting the hand from sliding towards the blade
  • Scabbard. The Chokuto is supplied with a well-fitting scabbard on which the shaft perfectly fits the sword. A sheath makes it easy for riders to hang the sword on the waist while walking or riding on top of a horse

Proper Way to Wear the Sword

Exercising the freedom of choice can be fatal during battle.  The Samurai were not afraid to die because they were trained in the Bushido way. The effect lies on those who served them. There is a disastrous effect if they die during these combats. Wearing both blade up and blade down are allowed depending on the era and sword type. Samurai wore a combination of these since they do have two swords: long and short. During battles it is more practical to carry the sword down because when warriors are sitting on their horses they tend to move a lot.

Changes in Blade over Time

The iconic Japanese sword can be trace back to the Chokuto. Some say that swords like these that are made during the Jokoto period was the most basic forms of Japanese swords. During the time that it was made as mentioned earlier the curving and hardening technique were not yet developed. This does not mean that this weapon is not a thing of beauty or that it is not well-made. Suffice to say, that before technology was used to produce Katana, Chokuto already existed. At first glance the straight blade looks more like a long sharpen steel bar.  Some variations call for tapering towards the tip and at times very little. The usual cross sections can be found in sword length nowadays. Among martial arts enthusiast these are referred to as Ninja sword.

Whatever fighting styles may have existed is already buried in the annals of history.  Once long ago, this sword was as popular like the Dao due to its lethal impact and convenience in handling during war. Chokuto was more of a ceremonial sword. In its heyday, this sword was use to cut and as a thrusting weapon similar to that of a rapier. This sword has close resemblance to the Jian sword although the Jian has a double edge. The difference between a straight blade and a curved one is the curved blade slices while the straight one chops. This is the easiest way to explain how this blade was used. This sword remains a cultural icon of Japan.