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Weapons UnderGround >> Samurai Sword Question...?


9/16/12 11:54 PM
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Baki
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Hey Guys,

A question for those of you in the know: why are samurai swords curved? Is there an advantage in cutting, drawing, dueling, etc? I've always wondered why a curved blade over a straight one?

I'm very interested in hearing any and all reasons?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Baki
9/17/12 11:44 AM
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Skpotamus
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The idea is generally that curved swords don't get stuck as easily when swung from horseback. Mounted warriors with swords generally used curved swords all over the world.

The armor in Japan tended to suck, a lot of it was leather, so having straight swords to penetrate it wasn't necessary.
9/24/12 1:57 PM
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Siciliano
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Great answer!
10/11/12 5:00 PM
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moonrunrs
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Japanese swords started as straight (like Chinese war swords) but when tempering the sword the Japanese started using a process where they tempered the sword at different hardness. They coat the back of the sword in clay and leave the edge exposed.

This makes the edge much harder so it can be made much sharper BUT the sword is still pliable and won't break because the back of it is soft. The clay makes the back cool more slowly than the edge. When they immerse it in water, the steel cools at different rates, making it bend and giving the sword its curve.

The clay also creates the wave pattern on the blade and gives it a unique "signature".
10/11/12 5:01 PM
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moonrunrs
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I think there are some videos on youtube that show the katana tempering process. Watch how they coat the blade in clay before the final tempering process.
10/13/12 10:53 PM
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Skpotamus
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That was how they made them curved, but not why. If you look at older japanese swords, they were straight. When they started mounting their soldiers, they went to curved swords like pretty much every other military force.
10/17/12 10:35 PM
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moonrunrs
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The "why" is because the swords could be made to hold a much sharper edge and be much stronger if they used the clay tempering process which created the curve.
10/18/12 8:17 PM
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Skpotamus
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Differential tempering is used on many tools, punches, chisels, etc and has been for a long time. European swords were made the same way as katana for many years before the Japanese made them that way, yet kept theirs straight due to armor, tactics and techniques. In fact, the clay coated differential technique originated in Europe for use on broadswords.

The hardening technique isn't the reason for the curved sword anymore than the lack of that technique would be the reason for a straight sword.
12/19/12 5:45 AM
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HULC
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Good post Skpotamus.
3/25/13 4:13 AM
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5 o clock shadow
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Japanese swords originated in Southwest Corea in an area called "Baekche." They were straight bladed swords with a ring pommel, and the distinct chisel point of modern samurai swords. They were used on horseback even though they were straight edged.

The curved model of the sword did become widespread because it was more effective on horseback, but it did not evolve with the use of horses in Japan.

Originally the curved sword was worn blade down and hung from a pair of straps. This sword was called a "tachi." The katana evolved later. It was thrust directly into the belt blade up. This configuration allowed the user to draw and cut in a single motion.

fos
4/10/13 10:01 PM
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granderojo
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They are curved because it aids in the slicing motion used for cutting. It's not a strack perpendicular hack, but rather a slicing movement with the blade entering and sliding. A curved blade makes this motion easier.
4/12/13 4:11 PM
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HULC
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Straight blades don't have any trouble cutting either. In fact most infantry weapons designed to be used primarily for slashing have a forward curve to add weight to the blow.

As has been said above, blades with a backwards curve almost always developed that way because they were being used from horseback, and a curved blade makes it less likely to stick in a victim.
9/21/13 10:09 PM
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HULC
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Something interesting i found out yesterday, is that Katanas are generally of a similar length to one-handed European swords, and significantly shorter than two-handed European swords.

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