Posts Tagged ‘Ninja’

Traditional Ninja Weapon Design – Part 3: – Tekko-Kagi

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Ohayou gozaimasu! Welcome to the next installment of my series on traditional Ninja weapon designs, featuring the work of Matthew Wright of Ninedirections.com.

I thought I’d finish off the week with a little bit about one of my favorite traditional ninja weapons, the Tekko-Kagi (aka the Tekagi or “hand claw”). Tekko-Kagi were multi purpose tools traditionally used by by Japanese ninjas for defense and offense against sword wielding opponents. The tekko-kagi design was very well suited for the purpose. The large heavy claws made it easier to deflect, block or trap swords, and in a pinch could quickly be used for offensive attacks as well.

Tekko-Kagi

Tekko-Kagi

Tekko-Kagi are one of my favorite ninja weapon designs because, as I mentioned in a previous post, it is one of the few hand claws I have come across that was designed to use both the hand and wrist muscles, in addition to the wearers fingers, (unlike many weapons from previous posts) to control the weapon. And as we can see from Matthews reproduction, you would certainly need all that strength to use it effectively.

I mentioned in my previous Ninja weapon series how traditional Japanese ninjas may not necessarily have had the resources to forge the high quality steels that the Samurai used, and would have been forced to use cheaper metals, like iron or cheap steels. In order to compensate for this, they would have made much bigger, thicker tools. Matthew has take great pains to remain as true to tradition as possible and his reproductions do capture this design philosophy very accurately.

Tekkokagi - Top

Tekkokagi - Top

However, as you can see from the pic, the hand grip is really very long, and I personally think the design couldΒ  have done with some major trimming in the grip area. My personal experience has been that weapons like these are much easier to use when you can wrap your entire hand around the grip. However Matthew can be commissioned to custom design the weapon to any specification you might require, so for the most part, it is a non issue

In stock form however, the thick steel had grips, thick claws, a very solid wrist hoop all combine to make each claw a whopping 5lbs each. Heavy, as hand claws go, yes. But also very, very strong, and this would have been a requirement for blocking an incoming sword strike with one of these, back in the old days. I don’t know about you, but I’d certainly be willing to sacrifice a little lightness in order to be able to use my Tekagi as a shield against multiple sword strikes. πŸ™‚

Tekkokagi - Front

Tekkokagi - Front

Overall, a great design, one of my favorites. It isn’t pretty, or flashy or covered in mirror polished gleaming stainless steel, but it is exactly the kind of weapon design I love. Dark, strong, with a wicked set of fully functional claws that quite simply mean business. A definite must-have if you are into accurate reproductions of traditional Ninja gear… πŸ˜€

Tekko-Kagi – Matthew Wright – [Nine Directions]

A Mini Ninja Tool Kit.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

And just in case you are wondering, no, I am not talking about a tool kit for little ninjas. Though, as a side note, I am sure they do exist and are just as deadly as their larger counterparts. But no, they will not be the topic of today’s post. Rather I will be talking about ninja weapons. I’m sure you have all seen those gazillion piece ninja sword sets, that have hira shuriken in the guards, small knives, throwing spikes, and blinding powder in the saya, etc. etc, etc. Well, today I ran into a small scale version of that kit. the Ninja Battle Tanto set:

Ninja Tanto Battle Set

Ninja Tanto Battle Set

Yessiree, everything the aspiring ninja might need for a little clandestine action, all in an ultra mobile, compact form factor. Now technically, I think it is inaccurate to call this a “battle” set, since to my knowledge, Ninjas are not traditionally known to engage in “battle” in a traditional sense. They were more the special forces/guerrilla type, experts in asymmetrical warfare. So I prefer to call this the Ninja “tool kit”

And it’s got lots of cool tools. in addition to the cool little jet black, full tang tanto, with a push dagger hidden in the pommel, it’s got a sweet little sheath that holds three bo shuriken, and a small compartment for Tashibishi (aka Caltrops) that could be thrown on the ground to dissuade any pursuers eager to expedite your demise at the completion of a mission. πŸ˜€

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of excessive amalgamated accessorization. Putting too many things in one place can cause problems. I can see those bo shuriken getting caught on things as you walked by, maybe even interfering with the deployment of the knife, so I’d probably find a better less snag-likely place to put them. And the same goes for the caltrops box. It’s a cool idea, but I think it would hinder any kind of low profile knife carry. It would also get relocated.

However the push dagger in the grip ois a nice touch, and I really do like the profile of the blade on this tanto. It has the traditional tanto profile, with a false edge which would give it a great combination of both cutting and thrusting ability. Pretty cool design. So, Do a little trimming and relocation of the sheath accessories, and Voila! A nice little ninja EDC kit.

Just the kind of thing any enterprising ninja might need. πŸ˜€

Ninja Tanto battle set tool kit – [True Swords]

Traditional Ninja Weapon Design – Part 2: Shuko

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Today, I thought I’d move on to part two of my series on traditional Ninja weapon design, featuring the work of Matthew Wright of Nine Directions. And the topic of today’s post will be the infamous Ninja Shuko or “Tiger Claws”:

Ninja Shuko

Ninja Shuko

Ninja Shuko, which I posted a little bit about before, are interesting weapons. Or more accurately, interesting tools. Although they can be used as weapons, much like the Kunai I posted about last week, and are most commonly used as climbing tools, some believe that shuko were also descended from farm implements. As Matthew suggests on his site, there are those who believe that shuko were originally created by farmers to ease carrying hay bales and such.

However there is little evidence to either support that hypothesis. And given the difficulty and cost of constructing shuko, I highly doubt the hay bale carrier theory, since the Japanese were much more the practical field expediency type back then, and I think it would have been easier to just use more rope to carry those bales around, than to fashion something as relatively complex as shuko… πŸ™‚ But I digress.

Again, Matthew has employed a very traditional shuko design; a large oval steel hoop, with spikes embedded in it, connected to a large steel arm ring using a leather strap. At the hoop end, the strap is riveted above the spikes, covering the base of the spikes, protecting the hand, and providing a relatively soft internal surface for the hand.

Ninja Shuko - Hand Claws

Ninja Shuko - Hand Claws

The leather strap is also riveted to the very traditional a large steel arm ring, instead of the modern day nylon webbing and velcro wrist strap versions that are floating about all over the place. Now to be honest, while the traditional design works, I tend to favor the modern designs when it comes to practicality. Not necessarily how the spikes and claws are set up, but rather in the overall ergonomics of the arm/wrist hoop design.

Shuko - Steel Hoop

Shuko - Steel Hoop

For one thing, as a climbing device, having an adjustable wrist/arm retention system seems like it would be better than a fixed size steel hoop. So if I were designing something like this, that leather strap riveted to the spike band would be connected to another leather strap that went around the wrist, and was fastened using a buckle, or other similarly secure fastener that could be adjusted and tightened.

To some degree, I think this design would allow you to rest some your weight on the wrist strap during climbing, which could allow temporary stress relief on the muscles of the hand during extensive climbing exercises. But it would really depend on your climbing technique. The mechanical characteristics of shuko suggest that it would require a lot of hand and wrist strength to use, so the benefits of that design modification would vary from person to person.

Shuko - Grip

Shuko - Grip

And another thing is that, it is generally easier to grip something that is not the full width of your hand. If you can wrap your fingers around it, it is much easier to get a firm grip. As you can see from the pic above, this design unfortunately does not let you do that. This is not a problem with modern day designs, which are much narrower and fit the hand much closer.

It is, however very much in keeping with traditional design, which as I mentioned in the previous ninja weapon post, does seem to rely on overly large hoops and very thick components, primarily, I believe, to counteract the low quality of the materials traditionally used. So from a traditional standpoint, these are a quite accurate, functional and beautiful design. Definitely a collectors item.

And since he hand-makes these, I’m sure, if you asked nicely, you could convince Matthew to make a pair to whatever specifications you’d like… πŸ˜€

Traditional Ninja Shuko – [Nine Directions]

Why do sword makers do this?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

So I suppose this is a rhetorical question, since I think I already know the answers. But here it is. Is it sooo difficult to make a cool looking sword that isn’t mechanically compromised? And yes, I realize that at this point, I should have gotten used to seeing this, but it just doesn’t make any sense.

What, exactly, is the deal with slotted sword blades?

I’ve probably said this a gazillion times before, but the thing is, I keep seeing it over, and over, and over, and it seems like everyone is doing it, and yet it makes no sense at all. And I probably wouldn’t be making such a big deal about it, except today, I was looking at what I thought would otherwise be a really great looking sword, EXCEPT it had freaking slots in the blade. And not just anywhere, but in the *weakest* sections of the blade.

And as if that weren’t bad enough, I found *two* more swords, exhibiting the exact SAME design flaw, on the SAME PAGE. All with stinkin’ lousy SLOTS, in what seems like the WEAKEST parts of each and every blade. You know what? I think it’s a conspiracy. Maybe someone is attempting to compromise what little sanity I have left. In fact, I’m beginning to think someone is slipping crazy pills into all of my drinks.

Which is technically not possible, though, since I make all of my drinks myself. From stuff most creatures would not dare drink. But then again, I might have developed an alternate personality, of which I am blissfully unaware, who is in fact, slipping a mickey into my beverages. It’s the stress, I tell you, the stress… The stress of subjecting myself to these abominations that are trying to pass themselves off as useful sword designs… DAGNABBIT!!!…

OK… If you don’t mind, I’ll need a moment here to gather my wits (presently scattered to the four corners of the earth) about me…

*woo saaaah*… *woo saaaah*…Β  OK… Let’s try a little logic and reason.

Here’s the first sacrilegious creation:

Black Ninja Warrior Sword

Black Ninja Warrior Sword

The so called “Black Ninja Warrior Sword”. I’m not even going to go into why a “Ninja” weapon ought never to appear in the “Ronin” section of any sword site. But let’s take a good look at this thing. On the surface, not a bad looking sword. A simple cord wrapped grip, a short ricasso flowing into a nice blade contour, with a concave edge that rises to a little belly just before the tip. The spine is fairly simple, with a short scalloped section (which, incidentally, looks nice, but appears to be un-sharpened and therefore purely cosmetic) opposite the ricasso.

Then they added those… slot… thingies. And called them “blood grooves”. Yeah. Blood grooves. Really. Absolutely hilarious. I’d laugh if I wasn’t on the verge of throwing up. Now let’s take a good look at this sword. Besides the tip, where is the thinnest section of the blade? See it? In the middle of the little concave arc of blade? Good. Now where are those slots? Yeeesss… Right there… Partying hard… Right there on the ragged edge dude… Please, allow me to introduce you to the unnecessarily weakest part of this sword! Blood Groove City!!

I wish those slots would all fall off the edge and die… So I can go and spit on their graves. Ptooey!

But wait, there’s more! Here’s another from the trio/coven of atrocities:

Double Chaos Blades

Double Chaos Blades

These are the “Double Chaos Blades”. Appropriately named, because the design is doubly jacked up. Again, a fairly simple base design, a set of simple, almost straight swords, tipped with a strong spear point tip, with straight edges running down into a mild flare in the blade, just above the cord wrapped grip with the cool pointy pommel.Β  Comes in both black and polished steel. And if they would have stopped there, I might actually see myself buying one.

But Noooooo, that would have been too bland, too simple. They HAD to add some “flair”. AKA slots. But that’s not all. These swords come with added DIVOTS!! Yes, ladies and germs, these swords are *double* the dysfunctional fun!! First they started with the slots. Then somebody looked at it and said: “Hey… I got a brilliant idea!!” Lets cut small semicircles out of both sides of the blade!!! It’ll be AWESOME!!!”

Yeah… Awesomely bad. I mean the sword looks like it has been conveniently designed to snap apart into two sections at those spots where the semicircular divots and the grooves coincide. Now don’t get me wrong. Perforations are very useful. They are a boon for things like paper towels, bubble wrap, and.. erm…toilet roll… <cough>. I just don’t like to see it them in my swords… Call me crazy. Oh, wait. I am, in fact, crazy. OK, whatever. Lets just move on.

Now this last sword set, this is really what I went looking for…

Twin Fusion Ronin Swords

Twin Fusion Ronin Ninja Swords

The “Twin Fusion Ronin Ninja” sword. *Deep Sigh* I must admit that that at this particular moment, I’m finding it incredibly difficult to hold my tongue about the blasphemy that is a “Ronin Ninja” anything. But in the interest of not subjecting you all to a 20 page post, I will find an orc to chew on for the remainder of my tirade. Never let it be said that I don’t care about my readers. πŸ˜€

I’ll be honest. I just love the contours of this sword. Again, another simple, cord wrapped hilt with an angled pommel with lanyard slot. A short simple guard with a small but deeply curved ricasso. And then there’s the tip. A sweeping widening blade with a false spine edge, that looks almost broad scimitar like, before pulling a “Psyche” and abruptly turning into a slightly concave blade. Absolutely evil, wicked, sinister, beautiful and awesome.

And then… Sacrilege. An near perfect sword design… Defiled by heathenous, slot wielding, serration abusing wretches masquerading as sword designers. Turns my stomach I tell you… There are a lot of things serrations are good for. I personally do not think swords are one of them. On the spine, maybe. But not on the blade. And out of decency, I will not subject you to the stream of expletives that went through my head when I saw the slots in these blades. Holes are for swiss cheese. Not swords.

I could even live with the fake scallops on the spine. In fact, if they were to move the serrations from the blade to the spine, where the scallops currently are, and got rid of the slots… mmm… I could see myself picking out… well not drapes, but maybe a good whip, to hang on my mantle, with this sword…

But that’s just me. Is that wrong? πŸ˜€

Double Chaos Blades – [Global Gear]

Black Ninja Warrior Sword – [Global Gear]

Twin Fusion Ronin Ninja Swords – [Global Gear]

Back to Basics…

Friday, July 17th, 2009

It’s been a while since i’ve posted anything about a simple sword, so when I ran across this one, it said to me: “Phyre… It is time.”

Death Talon Ryu Ninja Katana

Death Talon Ryu Ninja Katana

This is the Death Talon Katana. Really nothing fancy. All understated, a few nice simple styling cues. Otherwise all business. And that’s what I like about it.

The blade is your regular Japanese Katana fare, long, curved, single edged, with a rather unusually smooth curve to the kissaki. AND, unlike many of the other abominations I’ve blogged about in the past, this one has a nice, simple fuller. No pointless cutouts, no cross drilling, no slots, just a nice, well designed blade.

The habaki, and tsuba are both finished in flat black, the small tsuba sporting a single, simple, upward curving black talon. My kind of simplicity in design. The tsuka is equally simply finished, with a simple black cord wrap. Interestingly, the grip does not carry the traditional Japanese tsuka-maki, or grip cross wrapping, opting instead for a simple spiral cord wrap. But it fits the simplicity of the swords design well. The pommel of the sword is capped with an equally flat black kashira.

Death Talon Ryu Ninja Katana - Sword Detail

Death Talon Ryu Ninja Katana - Sword Detail

The top and the bottom of the Satin black saya are also simply decorated with an open delta, and the saya itself is attached to a Blade style back carry strap system. Pretty cool. Even the name, while a bit ambitious, is not actually misleading either. A ninja, might, in fact use a Katana like this.

All in all, a simple, no muss, no fuss, no nonsense design.

Me llikey.

Death Talon Ryu Ninja Katana – [True Swords]

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