Posts Tagged ‘Dark’

A groovy little axe…

Friday, November 27th, 2009

When I think of Feng Shui, the Chinese system of organizing your environment in order to maximize positive Chi (aka Qi/Chakra/Energy) flow, the last thing that comes to mind is an axe. However, I suppose, from my admittedly limited knowledge of how it works, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the rulebooks that says Feng Shui cannot work through an axe.

In fact, it seems kind of implicit that an axe should affect the feng shui of any environment, it is in, depending on it’s placement. But now I’m just rambling…

The topic of this post, obviously, is an interesting little axe I ran into a while back. Ostensibly called the Chinese Feng Shui Axe:

Chinese Feng Shui Axe

Chinese Feng Shui Axe

As you can see, it’s an unusual little, all metal axe, fairly simple in design, with a relatively small (as axes go) crescent shaped head, a contoured gourd shaped pommel, and a spike on top. And, or course, the requisite red hair tassel to redirect the blood that might result from employing a little “Feng Shui” reorganization of someones face with said axe..

Hey, I kid, I kid… For the record, I do not condone the arbitrary reorganization of other peoples faces with axes, or, for that matter, any other kind of weapon. Except scalpels. In which case you must be a plastic surgeon, and the person must have been absolutely hideous to start with. But I digress.

This axe actually looks kinda cool, and seems like it would be a little heavy, but fairly effective. But it is, in fact, supposed to frighten bad Chi away. At least according to the website I found it on. Me personally, I think I’d employ a much larger, quite a lot more intimidating axe for that particular task.

I mean seriously. Have you seen the sheer amount of bad Chi floating around nowadays? 😀

Chinese Feng Shui Axe – [Online Oriental]

Wood: the other dark steel…

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Ok, So I will readily admit that the title of todays post was highly influenced by thoughts of thanksgiving turkey…Light meat or dark meat… It’s all good… But I digress.

You may recall a few posts I’ve done in the past on weapons made of wood. Some of them have been about reproduction, prop or cosplay weapons, weapons you could give to your little rascals, or for cosplay (costume play), designed primarily to be a safe alternative to the real thing.

Macahuitl

Macahuitl

However, I’ve also posted about weapon designs that, while made primarily of wood, were still quite lethal as edged weapons. The Macahuitl was one such weapon, using flint or obsidian blades, embedded in a wood frame shaped like a club, or a large broadsword. And then there was the Leiomano, which accomplished the same thing, using shark teeth, but packaged in a small axe form factor.

Leiomano

Leiomano

But I recently ran across an even more beautiful design, yet another based on the small axe form factor, but without any kind of hard blade material whatsoever… Just wood. Really hard wood… Have a gander at this:

Samoan War Axe

Samoan War Axe

Now chances are, the edge would be nowhere as keen as that of a macahuitl, so this would be more likely used freehand as a club, or to break or dislocate bones than an actual cleaving device,  (unless you had a hard surface to chop against and were willing to keep whacking away until the job was done :/ )  However,  it is just a beautiful piece of work.

I just love this thing. Between the smooth and highly polished finish on the weapon, the Samoan patterns on the blade, and the absolutely evil lines on this axe, I just love it to death. Ok, maybe not to death, since I kind of like being alive, but you get the point.

The points on this thing are amazing. The deep bevel of the edge is accentuated by the light colored patterning of the blade area, making it look almost like a thick slab of dark steel. The patterning runs all the way down the shaft, stopping just short of the light colored jute or twine wrapped grip. The combination is just sweet.

Truth be told, I think this wooden axe looks more both more beautiful  and sinister than most of the other evil steel axes I’ve posted on this site so far…

And that’s no small feat for a weapon made entirely of wood.

Samoan War Axe – [My Armory]

Abominable Batarangs…

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I ran across an interesting set of throwing stars, of a rather counter intuitive design. Yes, I said counter intuitive.  Yes, I know, not exactly the words you’d expect to see in the same sentence as “throwing stars” but that’s just how it is. Let me show you the counter intuitive goods:

Rainbow Batman Batarangs

Rainbow Batman Batarangs

Yeah… Rainbow Batarangs. Two words you never thought you’d see in the same sentence no? “Rainbow” and “Batarang”? Yeah, me neither. But there it is. A far cry from the rather beautiful, jet black batarangs of The Dark Knight. And entirely out of character. The Bats does not do light colors. I can pretty much guarantee you that.

In fact, I think the day that the Batman uses rainbow finished batarangs is the day he trades in his black (or navy blue, depending on what era you are partial to) superhero costume, and dons a multicolored spandex body suit and cape, complete with a big, bright, rainbow colored clown fro, and big red nose. At which point even the Joker would probably throw in the towel, and give up his life of crime forever. I kid you not.

But don’t hold your breath. It ain’t ever gonna happen. The Bats just ain’t that kind of guy.

Either way, you are hopefully beginning to see why I consider these designs are  counter intuitive. But wait! There’s more! Besides the completely off color scheme, I find the batarang design fundamentally flawed. Yes. I do. I really do.

Oh don’t look at me like that, I idolize the Bats just as much as the next guy, In fact, he is actually my favorite superhero, followed closely by Wolvie. But I still think this batarang design just… Sucks. Yeah. That would be the technical term. Batarang Suckage. And you can quote me on that.

You do know I can hear you right? No reason to yell. “Blasphemy!”, “Sacrilege!”, “How dare I!?” Whatever. Put a sock in it. If you’ll stop frothing at the mouth in rage and anger for a moment, I’ll explain why I feel as I do.

First and foremost, the first and original incarnation of the “Batarang”, as it was called, was never intended to be a shuriken. It was intended to be a custom, Batman designed boomerang. Combining a high tech computer controlled propulsion system, with the traditional Australian throwing weapon design, it was designed for double duty as either a traditional boomerang whose trajectory could be modified, or a simple impact thrower.

That implementation made sense. Even though it was much smaller, the boomerang-like curved shape of  the weapon, (even if it did have uncharacteristically sharp inner contours) and even the name, all made sense: Bat+Boomerang=Batarang!

However with the advent of “Batman Begins” (at least in the movies) the batarang concept was corrupted in homage to his Ninjutsu training. The weapon, which actually became quite a distinctive character, (Yes, I said “character”. Weapons are just as much characters in movies as the actors that wield them. But this is a discussion for a nother post.  🙂 ) was recast as a bat styled shuriken.

And that is where they went wrong.

A quick look at any of the many, many traditional Japanese hira shuriken (throwing star) designs, will quickly reveal that they all have one characteristic that the batarang does not. They are generally radially symmetrical in at least 3 axes. And those that aren’t are throwing spikes, or bo-shuriken, which are completely different.

Now this multi axis symmetry has several benefits. It helps make a shuriken’s rotation consistent and predictable in midflight. It also positions the bulk of the mass of the weapon behind each point and as it rotates towards the target, so as to increase the depth of penetration upon impact. And it also increases the chances that a point sticks into the target by giving each point the greatest possible amount ot time pointing to the target for any give number of points, and for any given number of rotations, as it flies to the target.

And therein lies the kicker. The batarang design, violated and heinously pressed into services as a bat shuriken, completely flies in the face of this tried and true conventional wisdom, and is only symmetrical in one axis. Down the center. It’s center of gravity is offset from the line of it’s points, and it is assymety is such that it is only likely to stick at one of two positions.

Now that’s just poor shuriken design if you ask me. I can see the need for the Bats to have some way of marking his work, and a bat shuriken is certainly a cool one, however I don’t really see the point of compromising the design of a weapon in order to do so. He could just as easily have used a symmetrical 4 point shuriken, utilizing a half bat wing for each point. Or even a whole bat.

So long as it was radially symmetrical, it would have worked brilliantly. And it would still have conveyed the whole Bat-thing just as well. But I will admit that the concept of the Bat shuriken is still kinda cool. I Just wish they didn’t have to completely obliterate the effectiveness of the weapon in order to achieve those cool aesthetics…

Rainbow Batman Batarangs – [The Happy Ninja]

Straight swords, plain swords, and sword canes…

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Most of my regular readers will know at this point that I am somewhat partial to sword canes, Shikomizue, or “Prepared Canes” as they are called. The reason is twofold. First because they are simple canes, and I’ve always enjoyed using “sticks” as some like to call them, or staff weapons. So throwing a blade into the mix for me, pretty much makes them completely and uncompromisingly awesome. It’s like bringing a sword to a stick fight. Dirty, but full of WIN. 😛

Blind Fury

Blind Fury

For similar reasons, I am also a great fan of Chokutō. Chokutō (or “Straight Sword”) are, as the name might suggest, just simple straight swords. But while Chokutō and Shikomizue are similar in appearance, the designs are not the same. And while they may both share structural similarities with Shirasya, (I have actually confused these designs on numerous occasions in the past) the three are actually very different in terms of design focus, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about them (I.E. go grab a cup of coffee or tea or whatever, and get comfortable, before you continue reading. 🙂 )

Shirasaya, (or “White Sheath”) swords, regardless of form factor, were designed initially as a storage format for sword blades, and are generally distinguishable from other designs by a very simple, generally unadorned saya and tsuki. Compared to the complex tsuka furniture, mountings and lacquered saya finishes of traditional Japanese swords, shirasaya were stored, lightly pinned, in plain, un-lacquered saya, so that both the saya and tsuki could “breathe” and prevent the build up of moisture that could cause corrosion and or deformation of the blade and tang.

White Double Shirasya

White Double Shirasya

Shikomizue, or “Prepared Canes”, are just that. Walking sticks or canes, designed to conceal a sword blade. The design focus here was the covert carry of a sword, without arousing suspicion. Featuring a featureless straight saya and tsuki, generally cut from the same piece of wood, or cut and finished to look like it was, this was a popular choice for ninjas and other warriors who did not wish to arouse suspicion, but still wanted to be able to carry a sword about them for offensive or defensive purposes.

Zatoichi - Blind Fury Shikomizue

Zatoichi - Blind Fury Shikomizue

Chokutō, or “straight sword” design, on the other hand, was focused on neither conceal-ability nor storage. It was a design born in an age prior to that of differential tempering, and, in fact originated outside of Japan, in places like China and Korea. Differential tempering is a process that produces a hard edge, but flexible spine on a most traditional Japanese swords. It also imparts the characteristic curve to the sword, which was found to be a much more efficient sword design, when used correctly.

However before the discovery of the benefits of curved swords and differential tempering, swords were generally straight, and is here that the Chokutō design came from. A simple straight sword, intended for practical use, with no differential tempering, and no need to conceal the blade. The form of the sword simply followed it’s function and the limitations of the technology of the time. Or so the legends say…

So I’ll bet you’re wondering why I decided to bring all of this up. Well, here’s the thing. I am a fan of anime, one of them being Naruto. Or at least I used to be a fan of Naruto. Been a while since I watched any anime. But at least the first and second seasons were acceptably entertaining. If you are willing to disregard the many annoying filler arcs. :/

Anyway, In the anime, one of our eventual anti-heros, Sasuke Uchiha, wields what can only be called a monstrous black Chokutō called the Kusanagi Grass Cutter. As I mentioned in an earlier post on the topic, there is some disparity between the Anime version of the sword, and the Manga (comic book) version of this sword. In the comic, the sword is white, with a black stripe. In the anime, however, the sword is dark gray with a black stripe.

Sasukes Kusanagi No Tsurugi (Kusanagi Grass Cutter)

Sasukes Kusanagi No Tsurugi (Kusanagi Grass Cutter)

Personally, I prefer the animated version of the sword. But, nonetheless, the most common versions I am seeing are the manga versions, a replica of which was the inspiration for todays post:

Sasuke Uchiha's Chokutō

Sasuke Uchiha's Chokutō

As you can see this is the Manga version of the sword, but despite it’s white saya, it actually looks pretty nice. And it has a sweet black blade. And it appears to of a much higher quality construction than the last one I posted about. So just thought, after my long winded post, that I’d share. 🙂

Now if only someone would make it in black… Actually never mind. I’ll probably just get this one, sand it down and give it the traditional Japanese black lacquer treatment…

Yeah… Go me! 😀

Sasuke Uchiha Chokutō – [King of Swords]

A Glorious Morning Star…

Monday, November 9th, 2009

And I’m not talking about a celestial body either… I’m talking a big ol’ heavy spiked ball on a shaft. In this case, almost 3ft of morning star, brought to my attention by a fellow DarkBlader who was trying to decide between this and a paltry mechanical pike. HAH! It’s like the ultimate no brainer! 😀 I mean, just look at this thing:

MEGA 35 Mace Club

MEGA 35 Mace Club

I posted before about maces, those rather wicked bludgeoning weapons of medieval ages, and this is one of the more… intriguing… types of mace, The Morning Star,  or the spiked mace, easily recognized by the spiked nature of the head of the club. As if clocking someone upside the head with a weighted club wasn’t bad enough!

Though there was a good reason to add spikes to the already rather effective mace. Armor. Simply put, a spike is the easiest way to concentrate all of the force of a strike from a mace into small a number of spots, making it an excellent weapon for puncturing armor. This was a darn sight better than a simple club, since I’m betting people found out early on that blunt trauma was just not quite as effective against a heavily armored opponent…

And this would certainly do the job. A black 9.5″ spiked ball, sporting 2.75″ spikes, siting atop a black steel shaft just tends to grab peoples attention. Even if the grip is wrapped in some kind of faux black leather. No matter how you look at it this is a magnificent rendition of the medieval morning star, 35 inches of polished black, and shiny spikey pain, just quietly waiting to bring some pain…

It’s just soo beautiful… 😀

Mega 35″ Mace Club – [King of Swords]

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