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Ninjato – Sword of the Notorious Ninja
Blade Length: 48 – 73 Cm
Handle Length: 26 cm
Weight: 0.9 to 1.3 kg
Blade Type: Sword with straight blade
Used By: Shinobi of Feudal Japan
Place of Origin: Japan
Date Produced: 20th century onwards
Ninjato Sword Background
Every warrior has his preferred weapon and the Shinobi of feudal Japan has chosen the Ninjato sword as theirs. It was believed that the design for the Ninjato sword was based on the wakizashi or chokuto swords.
There is lack of physical evidence about the presence of this Japanese Ninjato in both the Sengoku and Edo period which safely allowed history to chronicle the presence of Ninjato in the 20th century and onwards.
Starting from the mid- 1960s, the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum in Japan has housed sword replicas of the Ninjato. The last known history about this sword was during the mid-1980s when the first American television production who feature these kinds of swords mentioned the presence of this sword.
There is nothing so special when you look at a short sword even if it has a straight blade with a square guard. However, bear in mind that this sword was closely identified with the Ninja which remains famous even unto this day. Ninjas do forge their own sword from slabs of steel or iron.
Since they are not really swordsmiths by profession it was easy to create straight blades instead of curved ones. Another reason why this sword was designed to be this way could be because the Ninja were deity of Buddhism whose patron they decided to emulate.
Everything you need to know about Ninjato
When we think of Japanese swords it is normal to imagine all kinds of curved swords. After all, it was in this that their weapons stood out once feudal society was advanced. Yeah, in the beginning they had straight swords, but that was a thing of the past.
However, to the collection of Japanese curved swords known today, such as the Katana, the Wakizashi, the Nodachi, and more, is added a straight sword which, it is presumed, was used by ninjas in ancient Japan.
We are talking about the Ninjato.
In this page we will take a look at everything about this ninja sword.
History of the Ninjato Sword
Little is currently known about the Ninjato’s past. Some believe that this may be due to its nature as an exclusively ninja weapon, which would have fostered secrecy among those who possessed them.
It is estimated that the Ninjato swords would have been used by ninjas during feudal Japan to carry out secret missions. This is because these swords would have had an advantage over the conventional swords of the time.
One of these would have been the possibility of using it for climbing, nailing it to the ground in a way that would give the ninja an extra step useful for circumventing walls, and then retrieving it with a rope. Another version of this says that, instead of nailing it, it was simply supported on the wall, and a step was taken on its square Tsuba.
One of the most popular beliefs is that the ninjas would have carried their Ninjato on their backs, in a manner similar to the way samurai carried the Nodachi. This would have allowed them to climb and run more easily, and they were less likely that the saya (sheath) of the sword would collide with some obstacle, betraying their position.
Some experts, however, are wary of this hypothesis, as carrying the sword in the back would have made it difficult for the ninjas to perform some of their maneuvers, such as rolling on the ground to lessen the damage from high falls.
It is said that the saya of the Ninjato could also have had a variety of uses for the ninjas. One of the most accepted theories is that they would have served as a snorkel to breathe underwater for infiltration tasks and to listen to other people’s conversations.
It is also said that these saya could have been longer than the Ninjato in order to hide in them gadgets that could serve them in an eventual situation, as special chemicals to blind an opponent.
Did the Ninjato sword really exist?
There is an enormous debate about the figure of the Ninjato. This is because there is no mention of the Ninjato as old as in the case of the Katana sword or other samurai swords. Which led many people to think that these are simply a children’s tale.
However, what many do not take into account is that, had they existed, these were exclusively ninja swords. And a ninja, under no circumstances, would have wanted to reveal his true identity.
If it was difficult in itself to find ancient samurai swords, which carried them proudly, it would have been much more difficult in the case of elite soldiers who did not want to be discovered, which would have led to taking a little longer to find these.
There are some who argue that the ninjas would have used Wakizashi instead of Ninjatos. And this is possible. Just as likely they would have used Katana and Tanto. There is no standard as to the weaponry used by any troop in history – much less when it comes to ninjas.
The idea is not that the ninjas would only use Ninjato for their missions, but that they would have had the possibility to opt for them when arming their arsenal.
Evidence of their existence has been found today. For example, in 1956 a photograph of an ancient Ninjato was published and presented in a 26-page article on the art of ninjutsu.
Shortly thereafter, a museum was also formed for the figure of the ninja, in which this type of sword was also taught.
How to use a Ninjato?
Again, as we have seen throughout the history of the Ninjato, there is no key consensus on how the ninjas would have used this sword. This has led the martial arts environment to speculate on how they would have been used and to create their own techniques, based on the ancient ninja arts.
Some martial arts have delved, which seems very accurate, into the quality of these swords for stabbing. And this is especially important if we bear in mind that the ninjas tried to be as stealthy and effective as possible. This means not making broad movements and being able to finish off an opponent before he has a chance to shout.
Some of these techniques for using the Ninjato involve taking it with an inverted grip, which greatly diminishes the range but opens up the possibility of a whole new set of moves, such as defending at close range.
The truth is that, being a right sword, it is possible that the ninjas used techniques that are nothing like those currently known to Japanese warriors. Techniques that didn’t focus on swift, deadly cuts, but perhaps fast, precise swords.
In addition to this, there is the possibility of using two Ninjatos at the same time. This is something that the real ninjas are not believed to have done, but that some sword fighting schools also teach.
The idea of this is to use the two Ninjatos in the same way you would use a Katana and a Wakizashi; both in front, but far enough apart from each other not to collide. Possibly holding one with an inverted grip for a better defense and the other with a normal grip to have more range in the hits.
As you can see, there are many speculations around the figure of the Ninjato. And no less so when it comes to a sword made specifically for one of the most mysterious elite warriors in history.
Until more evidence is found, the true way in which the ninjas would have used these swords is a mystery.
Ninjato Sword Uses
It was more about convenience that Ninja warriors decided to choose a blade that was short and straight. The Ninja sword allowed these warriors to draw their swords quicker and cutting with it as a form of defense or attack.
These warriors have also mastered the thrust fencing technique that allowed them to do reverse grip during battle with enemies. Ninja are known to use one weapon for different purposes the same thing applies with the Ninjato.
The tsuba or guard of this sword was made larger than the average one and shaped square to be used later as a step to extend his normal reach. The sword would be retrieved by pulling the saya cord after he successfully accomplishes his task.
The construction pattern closely resembles that of its more practical counterpart: the Katana. If you are a student about the way of the Ninja this will allow you to get to know them better.
What Makes the Ninjato Sword Special
The neighboring Iga and Kouga clans of feudal Japan were bitter enemies. Their ongoing battle went on for centuries. These are warring families that have been mentioned in Japanese literature.
These warriors use this sword to fight each other. However, different swords were made for each clan. It was easy to know which clan attack the other because of the sword that they use. The blade of the Ninjato is hand forged in high carbon steel.
Using the clay tempering method this sword is hardened after the forging process. This sword is fully functional. It is said to be similar to the Samurai sword.
These swords may not be that long but, they are sharp. This sword is light weight and yet durable. Because some were created with great designs these can be used for displays in home.
Even some might view these swords as inferior to the Katana, it can be useful otherwise Ninja will not use this. Added to the fact that Ninja were not recognize to belong to any social class in Japan. Practicing and training with weapons is a must especially for Ninja.
Some sword maker made wooden swords that look like the original. However, these training weapons can only be used with certain limitations, This can advance the skills of a warrior. To be considered special the ninja sword must be sharp and fast. It must have good penetrating powers especially when used during cutting and thrusting practices in martial arts.
These swords are sold today for decorative or use in practicing martial arts. The Ninjato swords are created with a short or long blade and some people prefer regular Kissaki, but some prefer it with Kiriha Zukuri Kissaki.
When practicing with the swords because of martial arts, using the sword this way cannot be avoided. With the right maker and sword it could be a great one. You will not regret paying for the price because the Ninjato is well worth it in every sense of the word.
A word of warning though because these swords can be very sharp in case you opt in for that option, so handling the sword with care is highly recommended . Slicing soda cans will not be a problem because you are facing an inanimate enemy.
There are modern sword makers who pay tribute to the traditional sword but, is interpreted in a Hollywood Ninja sword kind of way. Some of these are tastefully done.
Craftsmen who are good at decorating can still create a piece of art that will catch your undivided attentions especially if you like swords. A true test of knowing if you got the right ninja sword would be to use it in cutting and thrusting. This must be both accomplished with great effectiveness.
These functions are the measurement on whether this version can be at par with the battle ready ones. There are still some remaining respectable sellers out there who sell swords that are worth the price. This proves once and for all that this ninja sword did exist.