Today I thought I’d talk about hand claws related to animals other than Wolverines… Yeah. No more Wolvie. Unless I find something new. What can I say. Oh Come ON. Just let it go…
Anyway, many ninja hand weapons are often confused with one another and incorrectly described, so I thought I’d take a crack at sorting them out. Let me formally introduce: the Bagh Nakh, Neko-Te, Shuko and Tekko-Kagi. Just a quick warning before you dive in. You may want to grab a cup of coffee…
First off we have the Bagh Nakh, also sometimes called the Wagh Nakh, whose heritage is the least obscured, but whose name is often incorrectly used to describe Tekagi. The Bagh Nakh is a weapon of Indian heritage, intended to replicate the damage that a tiger would inflict on your average unsuspecting jungle meal.
Anyway, as you can see, it is essentially a set of claws attached to a bar with loops for the fingers. The version above with the knife blade attached is called the Bich’Hwa Bagh Nakh. In contrast to how it is often portrayed, (and it seems to be portrayed and described incorrectly in a lot of otherwise reputable places) it is not a set of over-the-hand claws, nor was it likely to have been worn with the claws out over the knuckles.
Rather, I believe that is held in the hand, supported by the thumb and pinky, with the claws facing outward from the palm, and the basic traditional designs all appear to confirm this to be the case. If you look at the various forms of Bagh Nakh, you will see than it includes a few different forms, many with a blades that extend laterally out from the side of the weapon, in addition to the claws.
Two Different Bagh Nakh Designs:
Bich'wha (Bladed) Bagh Nakh
Standard Bagh Nakh
This tells me that they the bar was intended to serve a dual purpose as both the knife handle and the claw holder, and would therefore be held in the palm of the hand. Not to mention that many Bagh Nakh designs are near impossible to wield with the bar over the knuckles. From this we can assume that it was used with the claws projecting out from the palm. The same grip would likely have been used for both forms, with or without the original blade.
Simple Bagh Nakh
The Bagh Nakh is an excellent weapon for open hand clawing or raking attacks, as well as open hand slaps, and is very effective at tearing flesh. The best targets for this weapon would be the eyes and face, though any soft target would work.
Next up is the Shuko. Shuko, or “Tiger Claws” is the Japanese equivalent of the Bagh Nakh, and is one of the trademark weapons of the Togakure Ryu, which is believed to be the oldest school of Ninjitsu. This weapon employs a similar claw design, except for the way it is held and supported. Much like the Bagh Nakh, this name
Unlike the Bagh Nakh however, it is supported by a steel band that goes around the entire hand, as well as a strap that fastens it to the wrist of the wearer. This extra support mechanism allows it to be used in ways the Bagh Nakh cannot, such as for climbing walls and trees, where it was usually used in conjunction with Ashiko or Ninja foot spikes.
Ashiko - Ninja Foot Spikes
My guess however would be that commercial versions would be lacking and many would have to make a pair custom fit to your hand size, and appropriately padded, in order to comfortably use it for wall climbing duty.
Wearing Ninja Shuko
It would, in theory, also allow for much more powerful raking attacks to harder and tougher targets, like bony parts of the body and ligaments. This hand weapon is also often incorrectly referred to as Neko-Te, (even I have been guilty of this) but as I found out, the Neko-Te is a completely different weapon.
Neko-Te, or (literally translated) “Cat Hands” are traditionally small steel blades attached to the fingers using a band, usually of leather. Another weapon that is often confused with the Shuko and Bagh Nakh, these are actually steel claws designed to become clawed extensions of the fingertips of the wearer. Much like cat womans claws.
Neko-Te - Finger Tip Ring Claws
The most common references to Neko-Te are as the favored claw weapon of Kunoichi (female ninjas). They were primarily used for distraction, but could be made lethal by poisoning the blades.
Neko-Te - Leather Wrap Finger Tip claws
The use of Neko-Te would be almost exclusively limited to soft targets such as the eyes, throat, groin, etc. Especially since finger strength would be a limiting factor in the amount of power a Neko-Te user could generate.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the Tekko-Kagi (or Tekagi), which I talked about in my first Wolverine post. This is the only verifiable example I could find of a hand claw that employed claws located above the hand, like Wolverines claws. Most versions of this weapon are supported by both the wrist and the hand, and would have been used with the fist closed, either as a punch blade type weapon, or closed fist rake, depending on the claws configuration.
The Japanese Tekko-Kagi
It was generally used to attack and disarm sword wielding opponents. Of the weapons here, this is the only one that could have been used against hard targets, and I believe it could have been built strong enough to handle the amount of force required to even punch through light armor, (not to mention it is the closest design to good old Wolvies’ claws, making it one of my faves) though sadly, I have not seen any evidence that it was ever used in this fashion.
And thats about the size of it. I often see these names used interchangeably, however after doing a lot of reading about each of them, I realized that they each refer to a completely different weapon, and thought I’d share… Hopefully your head hasn’t exploded…
Bagh Nakh – [Brighton & Hove Museum]
Bagh Nakh – [The Forest Hermit (JP)]
Bagh Nakh – [Therion Arms]
Bagh Nakh – [Earmi.it (IT)]
Shuko – [Ninja Dynasty]
Neko-Te – [Warrior Quest]
Neko-Te – [Ninjitsu.com]
Tekko-Kagi – [Mark C. Barrett]
Tekko-Kagi – [Iga Ninja Museum]
Tekko-Kagi – [Warrior Quest]