Posts Tagged ‘Ninja’

Of Dragon Tails and Tigers claws

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Konnichiwa! So I thought I’d try and come up with some clever title for this post, since both tigers and dragons are subjects, (in a matter of speaking) of this post. But, as you may probably have guessed by now, the only thing that kept popping into my head was  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” Yes. So I took the easy route. Pathetic isn’t it? I have no imagination. *sigh*

Anyway, today I thought I’d show you more great stuff from the site of NineDirections.com, as Matthew was kind enough to send me more pictures of his work. The first item on the list today are more pics of the Ninja Shuko (Tiger Claws) from the last post on the topic. First we have a really cool pic of the Shuko hand hoop being forged.

Shuko - Forging the Hand Hoop

Shuko - Forging the Hand Hoop

And here we have a couple of cool shuko just hanging out and acting all cool…

Ninja Shuko (Toger Claws) - Just Hanging Out

Ninja Shuko (Toger Claws) - Just Hanging Out

A pair of Shuko with their battle faces on… >: (

Shuko - Claws Out!

Shuko - Claws Out!

Enter the Shuko! LOL… OK, ok… I get it. Enough with the Shuko.

So how about… Dragons? Specifically Dragon Tails? Yeah, I thought so… Dragon Tails, also sometimes called Rope Darts or Dragons Tongues, are basically a small blade attached to length of rope anywhere from five to who-know-how-many feet in length.

Dragons Tail

Dragons Tail

They can be spun at great speeds, and controlled via cord or chain, can be used to cut or penetrate hard targets at distance. A rather intimidating weapon, indeed. I’ve always loved the rustic feel of raw sharpened steel, and Matthew at Nine Directions has, as usual, replicated the look beautifully.

Dragons Tail - Edge

Dragons Tail - Edge

So what we have here, folks, is a heavy slab of steel, with sharp edges, on a rope. You can’t beat that with a baseball bat. Yet another example of some excellent work by NineDirections!

Dragons Tail – [Nine Directions]

Ninja Shuko – [Nine Directions]

Yet another completely unrelated “ninja” sword…

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

So I’m sure many of you have noticed the recent trend knife makers have been following, where the word “ninja” is added to the name of a knife to somehow add to it’s coolness… While I think ninjas are indeed cool, labeling a sword that has little, if anything, in common with a traditional ninja weapon is just… Lame.

But here we are, looking at just such a blade. Once again, I am faced with a painfully unavoidable truth… Sometimes marketing/sales people can be utter and complete morons. No offense intended for the non IQ challenged sales folk among you, of course. Please allow me to present: Exhibit… Q.

Full Tang Ninja Sword

Full Tang Ninja Sword

Now this, ladies and germs, is supposed to be a “Full tang ninja sword with a curved edge and a tanto point”. Alrighty then. So lets see. Curved edge. Check. Full Tang. Check. Tanto point… Errrrm… partial Check. Ninja sword… Wait… Come again? This is supposed to be a “ninja” sword? Orly? By what brain work, pray tell, is this a ninja sword? Intoxicated brain work? High brain work? Interpretation by fried braincells? What?

Now that I think about it, this would actually make for an excellent anti-drug commercial. I can just see it now…

This sword has absolutely nothing to do with Ninjas. But on meth, It does. Kids, don’t do drugs, Mmmmkay?

Yeah… Anyway, what was I saying? Ah. Yes. Sales morons. I mean honestly.

Now don’t get me wrong. I actually love this sword. It is absolutely sweet. An evil short sword, with a rather nasty looking point, a unique concave edge, and a set of contoured plastic scales, bolt-slapped upside the multi-choil equipped, full tang grip. Yes, you heard correctly. Plastic scales. Yes, yes, I admit it, it’s not a perfect blade. But cheap scales are easily fixed. No, really, It’s not that bad…

OK, maybe it is. But I actually still like this sword. Quite a lot. It’s simple, it’s clean, and most importantly, it looks like it takes itself quite seriously. Drow seriously, in fact. I could totally see a dark elf, a Drow, wielding something like this. Having, of course, replaced the cheap scales with some nice ebony slabs. But again, I’m rambling.

The point is, this yet another great sword whose fine name has been sullied by the unnecessary association with a completely unrelated cultural reference. Regardless how cool that reference may be, (and believe me, Ninjas are as cool as they get) it was still unnecessary.

I’m thinking I may need to adopt one of these, just to teach it that it is ok to be who it is. It’s a fighter. It really doesn’t need to be associated with ninjas to be cool. It should be proud of it’s heritage… Such as it may be.

Hey, hey, hey…!  I heard that. You really ought not judge… :/

Full Tang Ninja Sword – [True Swords]

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]

Steel Hands of Shadow… Tekko-Kagi Revisited!

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Not too long ago I posted about of my favorite Ninja tool, the Tekko-Kagi, (or Tekagi), featuring an outstanding example of workmanship by one of my readers, Matthew Wright (who posts here as Mangetsu) of NineDirections.com. I have always been particularly impressed with the authenticity of his work, however he recently put together a refreshed version of the aforementioned tool, as well as his website, and I thought I’d talk a little about my opinion of his the modifications to the traditional design.

So here it is, The Signature Tekko-Kagi from Nine Directions, which he most appropriately called “Steel Shadow”…

Signature Tekko-Kagi - by Nine Directions

Signature Tekko-Kagi - by Nine Directions

The word Tekagi (which is the abbreviated form of Tekko-Kagi) is, if memory serves, a contraction of two Japanese words, “Te”, which means “Hand”, and “Kagi” (a variation of “Kage”), which means shadow. In other words, this is the “Shadow Hand”. This makes a whole lot of sense when you consider that the Ninja (or Shinobi) were also called “Shadow Warriors”, due to their predominantly clandestine methods.

Their specialty was working from, or in, the shadows. As in, the most efficient way to plant a steel claw upside a marks head from a dark corner while their back was turned… 😛

But back to the weapon at hand. This ain’t yo grandmas Tekagi! This design, while fundamentally similar to the traditional tekagi design, differs in two very important respects. First, where there used to be a narrow forearm/wrist band, Matthew has extended the band to an almost full forearm-length leather bracer, to which the rear of the claws are riveted.

Tekko-Kagi - Arm

Tekko-Kagi - Arm

This, by itself, is perhaps the single most useful and functionally outstanding improvement I have ever seen in a tekko-kagi. It provides some additional much needed support, giving the tool much more strength, and should be significantly more comfortable than the traditional design, allowing for the wielder to use it with a lot more power.

Tekko-Kagi - Full

Tekko-Kagi - Full

The claws themselves appear to have been extended to the full length of this longer bracer, creating a full forearm cage that drastically increases the defensive capabilities of the weapon. In addition to this, he has shortened the top hoop, the hand grip, our control point, as it were, so that a much more natural, solid, closed-fist grip can be used to manipulate the claws. This is a *massive* improvement over the old large wide grip of the previous design, as your hand muscles are in a more natural and stronger position this way.

Tekko-Kagi - Grip

Tekko-Kagi - Grip

I have always held that while adherence to tradition is certainly of value, tradition should never get in the way of improvement. The old school ninjas did things the way they did because that was the best way to do them at the time. However their fundamental methodology was not one of stagnation. They constantly improved and modified their techniques and weapons, and were there not so many more effective tools of the trade to use, they would have upgraded their tekagi in much the same way Matthew has done.

Tekko-Kagi - Forge

Tekko-Kagi - Forge

So I say to Matthew, kudos for a job well done! These are perhaps the best designed Tekko-Kagi I have seen in a long time, and I doubt I will see any better. This is outstanding work folks, created with an eye to replicating the look and feel of the traditional design, except much, much better.

Tekko-Kagi - Grass

Tekko-Kagi - Grass

This Tekagi has single-handedly made NineDirections.com my next Site of the Month. If you want some truly outstanding replicas of traditional ninja gear, made with an eye for practical use, as well as authentic construction techniques, Nine Directions is the place to go…

You really can’t go wrong. 😀

Signature Tekko-Kagi – [Nine Directions]

A Really Sweet Japanese Rifle Blade…

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I have yet another rifle blade for you today, and it is just a beauty:

Tanegashima Sword

Tanegashima Sword

I’d like you to meet the tanegashima rifle blade! Much like the other rifle blades I’ve posted in the past, this one is essentially a non firing replica of an classic, beautiful rifle design, modified to house a sword.

In this case the rifle is based on an old Japanese design, the Tanegashima, a smoothbore muzzle loading matchlock rifle used in Japan in the early 1500s. But even the rifle on it’s own, while quite simple,  I still find to be quite elegant. A study in  simplicity  and practicality of design.

Tanegashima

Tanegashima

The smooth, beautifully curving stock, a deceptively simple combination of flat surfaces and mild curves runs gracefully from the butt stock up the almost the tip of the barrel, and just looks beautiful.

But where, back in the old days, lead ball used to travel at high speeds towards unfortunate targets, we now have a shiny blade. A straight blade. A Japanese Ninjato. A rather fitting combination if you ask me.

Tanegashima Ninjato

Tanegashima Ninjato

In fact, I’m willing to bet that if you were to give this to a ninja, they’s figure out  a way to make it shoot stuff. Perhaps bo shuriken. Possibly highly trained ninja rats. Maybe better yet, they could fire small ninjas. Genetically engineered mini-shinobi specially bred for the purpose.

Yeah… That’s it… A mini-ninja firing sword Tanegashima. Awesome!

I think I’m going to have to patent that idea before someone steals it.

Tanegashima Ninjato Sword – [Knives Deal]

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