Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

A Chinese Barbarian Sword…?

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

So today we have a weapon with some rather familiar lines:

Chinese Barbarian Sword

Chinese Barbarian Sword
[view full size]

Now this is a pretty hefty sword design. But contrary to how this is described, it is not really a “barbarians” sword. I think the medieval Chinese were way more cultured than their western counterparts. But I digress. This is, in fact, a variation of a design commonly referred to as the Chinese War sword design, distinguishable by their medium length blade, with a wide, very scimitar-like blade profile, the simple straight guard, straight grip and the large ring shaped pommel. In black. My favorite shade of steel.

As you can see from the pic, it has a serviceable point, but because of the width of the blade, it would not have been a particularly good thrusting weapon. No. This, ladies and germs, is a cutting and cleaving weapon. The deep belly of the blade would make for an excellent close quarters slashing weapon, and it’s weight and the strength of that extra wide blade would have brought a terribly chop happy smile to the face of any Chinese barbarian (or for that matter, any scurvy Pirate) that happened to be in a foul mood on any given battlefield day…

Chinese Barbarian Sword – [True Swords]

Simplicity and Sword Design.

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

In my last post I lamented the fate of simplicity in decorative sword design. I may have been being unreasonable, since in actuality the only thing a decorative sword has going for it is it’s aesthetics, but I ran across this sword below, and was reminded that beautiful swords need not be so ornate, nor so finely detailed:

Emperor Kang-Xi Sword

Emperor Kang-Xi Sword
[view full size]

Ok, so in the vacuous area between my ears that conceptually constitutes my mind, this swords simplicity represents a thing of great beauty. Yes, yes, I know. The scabbard is afflicted with a bad case of “look-at-me-itis”. Never you mind about that, we will simply have to just ignore the scabbard for the duration of this post. But what I do want to draw your attention to is the sword. Oh sweet simplicity. Thou has a name. And thy name is the Emperor Kang-Xi sword… 🙂

This sword is a veritable epitome of simplicity. A simple, almost straight blade of continuous width. A simple round guard. An equally simple ridged cylindrical grip, and, again, a simple round pommel. It doesn’t get much more simple than that. Even Ninjaken, one of my favorite swords, are generally more complex in design than this, due to the design of the grip and the blade.

However Ninjaken are also a lot more user friendly and functionally versatile. You’ll notice that the point (if you can call it that) of the Emperor Kang-Xi sword is more or less almost flat. Unlike Ninjaken, this would not make for a good thrusting weapon. However because of the slight curve, it would be a pretty good slashing/cutting weapon. On the other hand, the grip, while cool, is a metal cylinder. This is a baaaaad battlefield weapon design.

A metal cylinder provides no real gripping surface (those ridges ain’t gonna cut it against sweat or blood) provides no sense of blade position (a cylinder is not directional), and the metal will transmit every impact directly to the wielders hands. (Ouch!) Ninjaken borrow their complex, but very effective grip design from traditional Japanese Katana grips.

While not the simplest, the traditional Japanese grip is probably one of the best, perhaps  bested only by the most modern grip materials. A Japanese katana’s tsuka (grip) is oval in cross section, and traditionally comprises three important parts.

First comes the wood shell around the tang, followed by bumpy ray skin scales, which is all bound together by a strategically folded cord wrap. This combination provides excellent shock absorption, a firm grip, lots of comfort and good tactile feedback to boot. Definitely can’t say that about the Emperor Kang-Xi sword. So I guess sheer simplicity is not the way to go. Unless aesthetics is your primary goal. Which, in my case, is not really so.

However there is always a happy medium. If we were to take the slightly curved, full-tang blade of the emperor Kang-Xi sword, put a westernized tanto point on it, and apply a simpler version of the traditional oval Japanese grip using modern materials… Well the result would be… Hmmm. How shall I put this. Let’s just say that in my book, such a sword would be worth dieing killing for… 😀

Emperor Kang-Xi Sword – [Red Dragon Sword CO.]

A realistic anime sword…

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

If you’re a regular at this blog, you’ve probably all heard me poke fun at various anime swords at one point or another, usually due to unrealistic sizes, or features, or functionality, etc., regardless of their cool factor. However today, I thought I’d review an anime based sword that has a decidedly down to earth bent to it’s design:

Urahara Kisuke Zanpakuto
Urahara Kisuke Zanpakuto
[view full size]

Now this sword is from the Anime Bleach, and is a Zanpakuto, or “soul slaying” sword. The Zanpakuto swords of bleach are unique because each sword actually possesses a sentient spirit. An interesting twist to be sure, but not what we are here to talk about today.

I posted this sword because, for once, it is actually a sword I might have blogged about even if it wasn’t an anime reproduction. The reason for this is two fold. First off, while this sword looks Japanese on the surface, it actually incorporates some design features that are not seen in traditional Japanese sword designs.

First off, and one of my favorite features, is the cool black blade, with the black coat on the edge ground out to where the hamon should be. This is interesting because although the blade of this sword has a mild curve that might indicate a differential temper, I was unable to detect an actual hamon. I’d be willing to bet there was none. Also, you will notice that the edge is ground straight across to the end of the straight section of the blade, but not up to the tip of the sword, which is atypical of Japanese design.

Another interesting feature not present in Japanese swords is the presence of a ricasso, or unsharpened section of the blade, just above the hilt. The edges of the ricasso is actually sheathed in a metal shell, and runs straight into the grip without the benefit of a guard, which is also very atypical of japanese design.

The grip is equally anomalous, in the sense that while it employs the traditional Japanese rayskin wrapped wood handle, pinned to a full tang blade, it is covered by a leather wrap, instead of the traditional Japanese cord wrap. The pommel is also not of a traditional Japanese design, having a ridged cap and a tassel, instead of an oval cap with a flat bottom, which in fact, makes it look more Chinese in aesthetic than Japanese.

Overall, an interesting hybrid sword design I thought was worth a post… 🙂

Urahara Kisuke Zanpakuto – [True Swords]

A Very Special Antique Katana for the New Year

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

A while back I found a picture of very ornate and painstakingly designed /created /decorated Katana on My Confined Space, a picture blog that I harass frequently:

Antique Katana

Antique Katana
[view full size]

[view super size]

Now normally this kind of sword is not my thing. But this one is too much a work of art for me to ignore. On many levels. And I thought this would be appropriate for the first weapon post of the year. There are so many unique and amazing points of fine aesthetic detail that went into the making of this sword, I really don’t think I can cover them all in a single post. So I’m just going to let you ogle the pic.

Aww, who am I kidding. I have to at least draw your attention to some of the less obvious traits of interest. Like the shape and the detail of the tsuba, or guard. While this sword conforms to traditional Japanese design, the guard carries a rather distinctive Chinese flair to it’s design, which makes this weapon all the more intriguing. The traditional ray skin grip with the brass overlay, tassels and fittings are excellently done. And though you can see one regular bamboo pin for the blade, it appears as though there were, at some point, two white pins, possibly of ivory, of which one is left. A very nice touch.

The details of the engravings on the butt cap and the tip of the saya or scabbard are extraordinary, as are the brass rings and purple ribbons to which the braided cord used to wear the sword is attached. Even the fittings to which the purple ribbons are attached to the saya are amazing. Not only are they beautiful, but they appear to also be hinged!! Mechanics and aesthetics in harmony. What more could one ask for?

Obviously, I can’t say much more about it than what we can all see in the picture, but I can say this. If a picture is a thousand words, this one is easily worth a cool million…

The Contemporary Light Fighting Knife.

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

In a recent post I did about the Altairs retractable blade from Assassins Creed, I made mention of the the characteristics of the ideal fighting knife. While any knife will only be at it’s best when used in manner and environment it was the designed for, most small, fast fighting knives have very similar properties.

Today, I thought I’d talk about a classic example of one of the best engineered fighting knives of the last century or so. The British Commando knife, AKA the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife:

Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knives

British Commando Knife British Commando Knife Special Edition
[view full size] [view full size]

Fighting knives have been around since the beginning of man. Blades such as daggers, dirks and stilettos have always been popular fighting tools, due to their speed and flexibility. However the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife is a knife that has had a very profound influence of modern day combat fighting knife design. Developed in China, just prior to WWII, it was based on a design called the Shangai Knife:

The Shanghai Knife

The Shanghai Knife
[view full size]

This basic design was developed specifically for closed quarters knife fighting speed, agility and effectiveness. In contrast to the many other fighting knife designs, this was focused on very specific things. This fighting knife was designed to meet a very specific set of criteria. For instance, it had to be slim enough to be thrust between the ribs of an opponent. It had to be long enough to penetrate several layers of heavy clothing (like winter greatcoats and such,) and still strike vital internal organs. It had to be relatively small and easy to conceal. And it needed to be light, fast, and well balanced. But it also had to have excellent thrusting and slashing ability.

The FS (Fairbairn-Sykes) fighting knife design was the end result. Featuring a strong but narrow tapering double edged blade, it was one of the most well designed fighting blades of it’s time. After being adopted by the British army, and later variants of it by American, many other armies, it has had a significant influence on numerous combat blade designs since. Even your common boot knife and push dagger share roots with the FS design:

Boot Knives

Bodyguard Knife Bodyguard Boot Knife
[view full size] [View full size]

<^>

USARA Dagger

USARA Dagger
[view full size]

To be fair, the basic FS design is a revamp of a very old one. The idea of a strong, but slender, pointed, double edged blade has been around for a long time. However the FS design really brought it to the forefront of combat fighting knife design.

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