Anonymous asked in SportsMartial Arts · 10 years ago

do you think Katana swords are overrated ?

I'm not a sword expert I have fought a couple Shani and heavy battles with the ECS, SCA.

I know that Hollywood makes the Katana look like the best swords ever made- breaking European long swords and the like. Assuming the metals and lengths were the same from the swords I've handled I'd think the European swords would be better since you have a blade on both sides and a better point giving you more ways to attack with it. Though you could make the argument the two swords were designed to be used in different ways.

Any how do you think Katanas deserve there reputation

or do you think it comes from being "exotic foreign blades"


Lex are you saying European swords are heavier because of European smithing methods or because of size?

11 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    "do you think Katana swords are overrated ?"


    I think the Hollywood magic of them breaking European blades is stupid, but that doesn't make them overrated by the martial arts community as a whole. I would at least like to assume that we're a bit smarter than anyone who believes what they see in films is real.

    "Assuming the metals and lengths were the same..."

    They're not. The traditional construction of the katana differs from the traditional construction of European blades. Also, what with them having been made on different sides of the globe, I'm willing to bet the chemical makeup of the metals wasn't exactly the same, either.

    "I'd think the European swords would be better since you have a blade on both sides and a better point giving you more ways to attack with it. Though you could make the argument the two swords were designed to be used in different ways."

    That last observation is correct, and kind of negates your hypothesis. You are comparing apples to oranges. Because the two classes of swords were meant to be used differently (both could cut or thrust, though the katana was designed much more for the former), it's really hard to say which was "better". For example, it's easier to use a curved sword from horseback, which is how the katana's predicessor, the tachi, was used; it's also better for tighter spaces. A straight blade is better for formations (see the Roman gladius and its use on the battlefield). In reference to the European sword, the edge wasn't as sharp as that of the katana, which allowed for "half swording". European blades relied more on momentum than a fine edge, and were more of a "hack and thrust" weapon than a "cut and thrust" weapon. The war sword, or single-handed sword common around 1000 years ago, was meant to be used in conjunction with a shield, while the katana was primarily a two-handed weapon.

    I don't think the katana is overrates as much as the European swords are underrated. The both do the job they were designed for quite well.

    Edit- For those talking about sword sizes, most functional swords, Eastern and Western, weighed between 2.5 and 5lbs. I think most averaged about 3.5lbs or so. No 25lbs swords were actually used. I don't care how big you are, try swinging a 25lbs weight around quickly for half an hour of battle. You can't do it. Check out actual sword weights some time.

  • 10 years ago

    There is no real comparison possible between different swords

    Each sword was a tool fit for the conditions it was used in. i.e. European knights were usually heavily armored with chain mail and plate armor. A katana style blade would not have been suitable to go up against something like that. They needed a heavy weapon that could hack into the opponent or at lease give a hard enough hit to knock the opponent down. where as a katana was suited for the lighter armor that was worn by the samurai where speed and slashing/cutting were more of use. That being said The usual comparison between these two blades is not really the historically best comparison. During the time where the development of the katana was at its height the broadsword had long been replaced by sabers and rapiers. compared to those the katana will always stand out quality wise. You must keep in mind that the katana is an extraordinary feet of metalurgy by any standard. It has a rockhard edge that can be set razorsharp and can cut through human limbs like butter. Yet through the ingenious folding and sequential hardening the back was soft and flexible enough to handle even the heaviest blows without breaking or bending. the quality of finish of these blades was never rivalled due to the Japanese mindset of perfection in their work.

    only the very best steel was chosen to make katana, and only the very best of the blades were eventually processed further and finished. If you can imagine to make such a high quality blade from an inferior material (Japanese Ironsand) I think the blade deserves serious merit

  • Erika
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Katanas Hollywood

  • PBJ
    Lv 5
    10 years ago

    Katanas are very interesting swords. They're simultaneously hard and flexible, and therefore very durable for its size. They're also quite sharp, but what separates the katana from other swords is the technique used to wield them. Unlike most other swords where slashing your enemy involves simply swinging the swords, the katana requires the user to pull back on the sword while slashing. This allows the entire length of the blade of the katana to be used. While the Western sword cuts by crushing through flesh, bone, etc. the katana actually "cuts" through flesh, bone, etc. In Japan, there is a discipline dedicated to the use of the katana (called "Iai"), and experts thereof can actually cut through metal and armor. One of the greatest feats of skill in Iai is cutting a cast-iron helmet.

    In short, what deserves the reputation is the combination of the weapon and the user's skills; not so much the weapon itself.

    See National Geographic's "Fight Science" segment on weapons.

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  • 10 years ago

    I would say that by the general public yes they are the general public(meaning people who do not regularly deal with things of this nature) perceives them as a lighter than air able to cut through anything... stuff like that(a lightsaber made of metal)

    naturally this is not the case all in all they were a quality sidearm that excelled at cutting down unarmored enemies(the main purpose of any sword) made of less than perfect iron yet worked great in the environment it was used in(naturally this is why the sword smith in japan is held in such high regard)

    another detail is the fact that a complete lineage for the use of these swords exists while the sword art may not look exactly like it used to the skill with which it is used still helped create this belief that it was a mystical super weapon in the eyes of those with nothing to really compare it to these stories get told to others and things quickly start to get out of hand

    on the other end of the spectrum you have the European sword(lets just say the longsword for simplicity sake) that after it faded from use was often ridiculed by poets and rapier fencers as a means to make themselves look smarter and more skilled by comparison in this very thread there is someone claiming they weighed 25 lbs( added to the fact that it is a cold steel fanboy saying this I find funny)

    tldr: they are good swords, hollywood knows as much about swordplay and swords themselves as I do about theoretical physics(on a quantum level) . and there are plenty of other quality swords in existence

  • Zarn
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    An answer to this highly subjective question would largely depend on what you're intending to do with the sword, and to what extent (and with what) your opponent is armored.

    A katana is an excellent slashing sword. It is not very good at thrusting, and is rubbish at penetrating high-quality armor such as European chain mail - which is especially good against slashing swords.

    The forging techniques of the Japanese were to a certain extent developed because of the generally poor quality of iron ore available. The marsh ore and meteoric iron of Scandinavia was of a much better quality in general. As such, the viking longsword is an excellent example of a high-quality steel blade, and is the ancestor of the knightly sword.

    So, each sword to its use. From an aesthetic point of view, though, I think the katana can be beautiful - but so can Western-style swords be as well.

  • Uguisu
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    They're a tool, like any other, and served a purpose for a specific culture at a specific time. Would it stand up to a knight in heavy plate? Probably not. But it depends on who is using it, and their capability as a swordsman. Yes, they are masterfully crafted, rather than largely mass-produced the way many western weapons were – A blacksmith pounding out blade after blade after blade for an army. Do I think they're overrated? I think they're given too much credit when they're nothing without someone to wield them.


    @Zarn: The Japanese had their own high-quality chain mail, which, like european chain, was more readily penetrated by arrows, rather than the dispersed force of a sword. As for the thrusting capability of a Katana, it was adequate, even on-par with straighter blades.

    Example of a half-hearted tsuki (thrust) with a katana:

    Youtube thumbnail

    Source(s): Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu
  • Lex
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    You're right. Katanas would not break a european broad sword. It would be the opposite actually. Europeans were also larger people, so they could handle the extra weight.

  • 10 years ago

    Movies are telling a story and selling tickets, so there going to do whatever to make the movie fun to watch. European swords are good but very slow. If your a viking size guy, then swinging a 25lb sword might be easy. Samurai is super fast and deadly in anyone's hands. Fencing is by far the fastest sword, but no defense against any other swords. So every sword has its pros and cons. But a Katana breaking other swords is totally Hollywood. The Viking sword is the hardest rolled steel ever, and would break most swords in the world very easy.

    Source(s): historian
  • CTC
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    Weapons are weapons. Its up to personal preference and training on what people like. There are many different types of swords and many different MAs. Its not like u can just put any type of sword in any martial artists hands and theyre suppose to know how to use it. MA weapon styles are based on the MA not on the weapon.

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