Posts Tagged ‘Naruto’

Throwing Knives – Part Deux – The Art of Throwing Knives!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

OK, so it’s been a while since I posted anything, truth be told, I’ve just had waaaaay too many things going on. So much so that any spare time I might have is a rare and precious commodity. And as you might imagine, rather than sit behind a computer screen during this free time, I prefer to get out and do… Things. Yes. Things. physical things. In ye great outdoors. Or indoors. And stuff. Yeah… OK… Enough of that.

Anyhoo, one of the “things” I like to do in my spare time is… Throwing knives. I may have mentioned it in a previous post, but I have been a knife thrower, on and off, for many years. However recently I’ve been noticing a resurgence in knife throwing interest. Of course it may just have been that I haven’t been looking in the right places, but I think that the relatively recent flood of knife throwing protagonists in movies, anime and video games, may have something to do with it.

I mean if you look at the way throwing knives are used in games like as Assassins Creed and COD:Modern Warfare, anime like Naruto, and of course, Jason Stathams “Hai guise, I’z so hard core ima bring throwing knives to a gunfight” guy from movie The Expendables, it’s kind of hard to miss the glamorization that they have undergone. Much like the lowly Japanese garden trowel morphing into the almighty ninja Kunai…

Incidentally however, even though all I have seen of  The Expendables is the trailer, I thought I should point out that in real life, if anyone was stupid enough to bring throwing knives to a gunfight, they would be dead. Yes. I said it. Jason Statham’s character should have been dead. Many times over. Riddled with bullet holes dead. Dead as a doornail dead. Dead as a doornail riddled with bullet holes dead. D-E-D… Dead. I’m just saying.

And on that note, I’d like to show you a humorous video  I found on Youtube that actually addresses some of the more interesting points about how throwing knives are portrayed in the movies:

A point about throwing knives

A point about throwing knives

Now this guy makes some great points, though he kind of makes a mistake when he presumes a knife that misses it’s target can’t hit (and stick, point first), into the wall behind them. In reality this depends on how the knife was thrown. There are three  main ways to throw a knife. The first, and arguably the most common is what is called the spin or Circus throw, technique.

A knife thrown using this technique spins end over end on the way to the target, which means that the point is only present to the target at specific distances, which limits a thrower using this technique because they must stand at specific distances from the target in order for a stick to occur. Too far outside one of these “sweet spot” distances and you don’t get a stick.

Skilled circus style knife throwers learn ways around this limitation, such as imparting additional spin, by flicking the wrist, or retarding the spin of the knife with the thumb, as it leaves the hand, so as to shift the sweet spots closer or farther away, but personally I think there are just too many variables to learn to take into account to use this style as anything more than a recreational experiment. I do like to use this once in a while, however, since one of it’s great benefits, in my experience, is that it is one of the most powerful throwing techniques, allowing sticks to occur in the hardest of targets.

The second throw type is some times called the “no-spin” though it is technically a very slow quarter spin throwing technique. Now with this style, you have a whole lot more leeway with your distance, since the spin is so very slow, that your effective point stick distances are much , much larger than with the circus style throw. However the knife still spins, albeit slowly, and a thrown knife that misses it’s target, may still hit point first a little ways behind it, but not by all that much. This is the throw I use most often.

I personally find that it is not as powerful as the circus throw, however you are not dependent on being in a “sweet spot” in order to get a stick. Below is a demonstration of the quarter spin through with a unique twist (pun intended), demonstrated by the Japanese weapon throwing expert Houzan Suzuki:

No spin (Quarter Spin) knife throwing - Screw Style

The last, perhaps most difficult, but most interesting, is the spear style throw. Now this throw can actually be performed in a couple of different ways. Some spear style practitioners throw their knives like actual spears, pushing them straight forward, like darts. Yet others accomplish the spear style throw with an overhand or sideways throw. However the distinguishing feature of this style of throwing is that when the knife leaves the hand, it is already point first toward the target, and stays that way across the entire trajectory of it’s flight.

No Spin Wave Knife Throwing Technique

No Spin Wave Knife Throwing Technique

This last method of throwing, demonstrated above by the Russian martial arts expert Yuri Fedin, using either a sidearm or overhand spear throw, is perhaps the most difficult of all to master, but it is the one throw for which a point first stick is almost guaranteed, regardless of where the target happens to be along it’s trajectory. This means that you can miss the target, and still get a point first stick quite a ways behind the intended target. This is the style I’d like to master, but believe me, it is not an easy one to learn.

At the moment at which you release the knife, you must use a a light brushing motion along the spine of the knife, with the forefinger or thumb, to counteract the knifes natural tendency to spin due to the rotational inertia imparted to it by the arc of the throwing arm. Too much and it will rotate in the opposite direction, too little and it turns into a quarter spin throw. You have to get it just right. I can do it fairy easily at half spin distances, but beyond that, it’s hit or miss… Yet again, pun intended.

I leave you with a video clip of what an expert who has mastered this style of no spin throwing can do with… well… anything that has a point on it…

Enjoy!

Fedin System No Spin Knife Throwing

Fedin System No Spin Knife Throwing

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]

Another Copycat Blade…

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I am a big fan of shirasaya patterned swords, even though the design was originally developed for storage, rather than actual use. I find them such simple, clean designs. No muss, no fuss, no ornate furniture, no complex tsuka-maki, etc. I just really like the clean lines of the design.

However there are tactical disadvantages to using shirasaya styled sword furniture when compared to traditional sword designs. Obviously, without tsukamaki, your grip on the tsuka will not be as good. And without a guard, you are limited in the number of ways you can parry a strike. However these issues can be mitigated via training, and in the end, they become no more or less difficult to use than the purpose built shikomizue.

But I’m rambling. The real reason why I brought up the subject is because I ran into another shikomizue styled blade:

Custom Ninja Sword aka Sasukes Kusanagi Grass cutter

Custom Ninja Sword aka Sasukes Kusanagi Grass cutter

This interesting little blade, modestly called a Custom Anime Ninja Sword, bears a striking resemblance to a sword from a previous post. None other than Sasuke Uchihas’ Kusanagi Grass Cutter (aka Kusanagi no Tsurugi) from the anime Naruto! Obviously this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that a sword company decided to make a copy of a cool anime sword. But as cheap rip offs go, this one is a pretty good likeness.

About the only differences between this and the original is that this one lacks the signature Uchiha clan fan symbol on the Tsuka, it has a cheap cast habaki, and the point is a sharply angled tanto point, as opposed to a traditional katana point. But it has a straight black blade, just like the orignial, a feature that I absolutely love, and the long, straight white saya with the rectangular cross section with the black racing stripe down the middle.

I think that black stripe adds like 9000 points to the hit strength of the sword, but I could be wrong. 🙂

Sasuke’s Kusanagi Grass Cutter (aka Kusanagi no Tsurugi) rip off – [True Swords]

Cool Replicas – Part 3: The Kusanagi Grass Cutter.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Welcome to the latest entry in my “Cool Replicas” series. Today, I’ll be talking about an interesting anime sword which I like for quite a few of reasons, the most cool (imho) being that the name of this sword actually has a history in Japanese culture. Kinda like the British Excalibur… More on that later.

For now, let me introduce you to a unique shikomizue from the Naruto anime series (one of my favorites) wielded by Sasuke Uchiha, a highly talented young ninja, who later on becomes so entirely corrupted by his need for power that, much like young Anakin Skywalker, he succumbs to the dark side.

This is his signature weapon after his definitive turn to evil; The Kusanagi Grass Cutter sword.

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter

[click image to view full size]

Now if you’ve read enough of my posts, you’ll immediately spot two things that I like. Want to take a stab at guessing what they are? Sure, go right ahead. I’ll wait… 🙂

LOL yep. The astute among you might have picked up on my shikomizue reference before, and you would be right. This is very similar in design to staff sword, saya and tsuki designed to look like a single piece of wood when closed. One of my very favorite designs.

The second? OK. For those not so familiar with my taste in weapons, I’ll be nice and give you a hint:

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter - *BLADE* and saya...

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter - *BLADE* and saya...

[click image to view full size]

Ok, if you didn’t pick up on it that time, you phail. The blade is the other thing I like on this. Why? BECAUSE IT’S BLACK!!!! Ha! OK. Now that we’ve gotten those little details out of the way, a little more about the sword. One of the first things I noticed was that the saya and tsuki were rectangular in cross section, which is an unusual trait.

Below you can see the detail of the black and white rectangular saya, sporting Sasuke Uchihas clan crest, (the fan in red), and more importantly, the point of the blade, an interesting hybrid between the traditional sweeping Japanese katana point style and the straight cut, sharply angled points we see on modernized/westernized ninjaken today.

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Saya, Point

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Saya, Point

[click image to view full size]

Now the great thing about a weapon like this is that it’s pretty hard to mess up, replica wise. Unless the components are really dirt cheap, and it is poorly put together, it is perhaps one of the simplest designs to replicate. All in all, I like this design. Thought it could stand to be a little darker… 🙂

BUT, interestingly enough, I did find another version of this sword, a much darker version, which proved to be not so accurate, though, to their credit, they did not try to pass it off as Sasukes sword, even though it is clearly a blatant rip off:

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Anime Rip Off

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Anime Rip Off

[click image to view full size]

Not so great. But now for some trivia. This particular design (in black) did not come out of nowhere. If you are one of the many who only watch anime on the cartoon channel here in the US, and don’t really know where they come from (besides from Japan, obviously) you may not realize that a great many of the popular anime series started of as Manga, or Japanese comics.

In fact most of the popular ones running now, like Naruto and Bleach, both got thier starts as Japanese comic books, and went almost immediately to TV syndication, so that the TV episodes aired almost as soon as a comic story line arc was complete. (Sometimes sooner, which often causes frequent non-storyline related filler arcs, much to my, and many others, chagrin).

Anyway the reason I brought this up is that there is a discrepancy between the Anime version and the Manga version of The Kusanagi sword. The versions we see above are actually the Manga version of the sword. The version that first appears in the Anime is a straight shikomizue (no curve) with a black saya and tsuki (no white lines), and a polished steel blade, quite similar to the black one above (except straight).

OK, so enough with the Anime trivia, on to Japanese folk history. The name of this sword is actually the name of a legendary sword in Japanese culture. The name “Kusanagi Grass Cutter” is actually a Japanese/English mix of the traditional name Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, which literally translates to “Grass cutter sword”.

There is actually a very cool story associated with this legendary sword, I was going to go into, but I won’t bore you with it, this post has gotten too long already. However If you want more details you can click here: Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi

As you can probably imagine, my ideal Kusanagi sword would be a black saya, black tsuki shikomizue, with a straight, black, westernized tanto point blade… mmm… a totally black sword… wait… I think I’m drooling… OK I’m done. I need to get a bib for these kinds of posts… 🙂

*Edit*

An astute reader, Zharkman, was kind enough to point out that my assumption about the last, black sheathed sword being a rip off of Sasukes Kusanagi is actually false, and that it actually came from the anime D. Gray-Man. I went back and looked it up, and lo and behold, I goofed!

The last sword is actually a replica of Mugen, the signature shirasaya of the D. Gray-Man protagonist Yu Kanda. And in that capacity it is actually an excellent likeness. This is what I get for making unfounded assumptions. And for not keeping up on my anime… There are just too many of them… Dagnabbit!

Sasukes Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Naruto) – [SouthWest Blades]

Sasukes Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Naruto) – [Swords, Swords]

Yu Kandas’ Mugen Sword (From D. Gray-Man) – [True Swords]

Cool Kunai…

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

If you were following my last few posts, you may remember a comment I made about the cutlery industries use of “Metal” (aka cheap cast alloys) to form certain sword parts (usually the hilt), in spite of the fact that steel is relatively cheap.

Now I will readily admit that steel is much harder to work into complex shapes than it is to case an alloy, but still, there are some times when steel is the right thing to do. Like with these Kunai:

Red Kunai

Red Kunai

[click image to view full size]

Now the beauty of these kunai is that they have been designed for throwing use, which usually means all steel (usually a high carbon or spring steel) construction, and a properly balanced design. Now these  Kunai have been modeled after those used in the Naruto series, and barring the use of a red grip wrap as opposed to the white wraps used in the anime, are a fairly close approximation.

But more importantly, notwithstanding that this particular kunai design is not really the ideal for throwing (Yes, you heard right, in spite of all the anime hype, they are not the best throwing knife design) the fact remains that they will probably be made from steel. Sweet, sweet steel.

No alloys, no resins, no cheapo construction… Well maybe a *little* cheapo construction methodolgy, but not with cheap materials, making this one of the best replica anime Kunai that I am aware of today. And IMHO, the fact that it is steel alone, would probably make it worth having.

And incidentally for the curious among you, i’ll explain my whole “not the ideal throwing implement” comment. An ideal throwing knife should be able to be thrown either from the tip or the grip. This design will make a great tip thrower, but the large abrupt ring on the grip increases the chances that it would hang up in the hand if thrown from the grip.

that ring could also makes it a little harder to balance, (which is important for other reasons) though that could theoretically be figured out during the design stage. The topic of what makes an ideal throwing knife is one I think I will dedicate a post to in the future because it is quite the interesting one. But I digress.

My point is, I really wish knife designers could do the same for every knife they designed and made. Real grips, not alloys, proper steels, etc. I know it’s an unreasonable request, but if they did, they would make lots of folks, like me, happier than a foody at a food fair…

We’d also be perpetually broke for the rest of our natural lives, but so long as I got to adorn the walls of my cave with lots and lots of cool, well constructed swords, I don’t think I’d mind all that much… 😀

Red Kunai – [True Swords]

Log In

Please leave these two fields as-is:

Protected by Invisible Defender. Showed 403 to 159,092 bad guys.

Your Weapon Sir?
The Raiders Almanac
March 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Surf the Sands of Time:
Phyreblades Site of the Month!