What Are the Nagamaki Sword Characteristics?

The most distinct characteristic of the Nagamaki is that it features an extra-long handle or Tsuka. With that, it comes with a blade that’s nearly close to the handle’s size.

Like other Nihonto, it was utilized by the Samurai warriors of feudal Japan.

Generally, the Nagamaki can be considered as an evolved and enhanced form of a Nodachi or Oodachi. These swords were depicted and described in various 14th-century images and literature.

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The Blade

Measuring the Nagamaki sword’s blade, it was about two feet or more, while the Tsuka almost equaled its length.

Its blade had a single edge and somewhat resembled that of the Naginata. However, its primary difference was how the blades were mounted.

There is no standard length for the blade of a Nagamaki, and this varied in measurement as well. However, upon observation, its length mostly fits the profile of a Katana or a Tachi sword.

Often, the blade would be over two Shaku in length. The equivalent of two Shaku is roughly two feet, or 60.6 centimeters.


A Nagamaki Sword’s Handle

The Tsuka of a sword, especially of the Nagamaki, needs to be sturdy, durable, and tough. With that, the Tsuka of a Nagamaki was not a standard wooden shaft like the Naginata. It appeared more similar to the Katana hilt.

Furthermore, the Nagamaki had a Tsuka wrapped with either silk or leather cords. These were tied in a criss-cross fashion similar to the ones on the Katana.

Though Nagamaki means” long wrap”, there are historical samples found without any wrapping cord. With that, it can be likened to that of the long handle of a Tachi.

When it comes to the hilt wrap or Tsukamaki, it’s even more vital when added to the hilt.

Generally, the cord is necessary to help improve the user’s grip on the hilt. Plus, it also enhances and provides structural integrity to the wooden Tsuka.

How Was the Nagamaki Used?

The Samurai wielded the Nagamaki, just like how they used the Katana. It was held with either both hands or single-handedly. When wielded with both hands, the user stayed in a fixed position to execute moves.

This blade was mainly utilized by delivering sweeping and slicing attacks by the infantry.

An Infantry Weapon Used Against Cavalry

Due to its length, the Nagamaki proved to be useful against cavalry. Samurai warriors could carry the sword to attack the enemy at a safe distance.

Wielders of the Nagamaki would use their sword to unmount a horse rider, usually by cutting the horse’s legs. Since the Nagamaki resembles a polearm, it was powerful and was able to damage bones underneath light armor. Also, its blade was often narrow, allowing its wielder to strike through an opponent’s unarmored areas.

It was efficient and beneficial for protecting themselves against an opponent’s assaults. This was all thanks to the Nagamaki sword’s length.

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The handle of every sword, whether produced in Japan or other countries, sports a handle that’s safe and durable. Of course, the Nagamaki is no exception.

It has a handle that the user can comfortably and easily grip, especially when executing attacks.

It Was Used for Sweeping and Slicing Attacks

If the Japanese Katana was one of the versatile swords during feudal Japan, the Nagamaki had its particular function. Wielders of the latter performed downward slicing and wide sweeping attacks.

With the length of the Tsuka that almost matched that of the blade, it became difficult to perform other moves. With that, Samurai warriors and martial arts practitioners who use the Nagamaki only perform vertical slicing and horizontal sweeping movements.

Unlike when using the Naginata, the positioning of the hands don’t change when using the Nagamaki. The wielder’s right hand was always closer to the blade, while the left was behind it.

When handling the Nagamaki, one would perform fewer sliding actions on the handle. Instead, they use the entire length of the sword to perform such movements.