Posts Tagged ‘Tekko-Kagi’

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]

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 could  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. 🙂

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… 😀

Tekko-Kagi – Matthew Wright – [Nine Directions]

The Truth About Cats And… Tigers.

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

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…

Bagh Nakh
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.

Bagh Nakh

Bagh Nakh

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 Bagh Nakh

Bich'wha (Bladed) Bagh Nakh

Standard 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

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.

Shuko
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

Ninja Shuko

Ninja Shuko

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

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

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
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

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 - Finger Wraps

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.

Tekko-Kagi
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

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.

Wearing Tekko-Kagi

Wearing Tekko-Kagi

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]

Hand claws… Of your nightmares…

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

As I mentioned in a previous post, it appears that everyone has been jonesin’ for for Wolverine claws, prolly as a result of the X-men movies. Now believe you me, I am as much of a fan of Wolverine as the next X-crazed fanboi/babe, but I recently ran into a set of favorite old blades that I thought I’d share, to remind you that there are other, equally interesting (read “sinister”) claws in Hollywood history.

This particular set could easily have qualified as the most terrifying claws ever to hit horror moviedom. And they were probably just as cool as Wolverines, even though they did not retract. Allow me to (re)introduce you to the hand claws of a classic nightmare, Freddy Kreuger.

Freddies Claws

Freddies Claws

Now any of you who have seen the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies will recognize the iconic ground-down straight razor equipped working gloves used by the infamous child-killing, wise-cracking dream killer Freddy Krueger.

Back when the movie first came out, it was sheer genius, because, unlike most other movies, it went into one of the few places that we always tell ourselves we can escape from if it gets too hairy. Our dreams. This movies transformed your average run-of-the-mill bad dream, into something in which you could suffer horrible torment, gruesome deaths and very well never wake up from. A true Nightmare. With a capital “N”. Or should it be “M”. Whatever.

Anyway the stars of the show, for me at least, (second only to Freddy himself) were always the blades. I loved those sinister razor blades. They always stole the show. In reality however, they prolly wouldn’t be as efficient as they are made out to be in the movies. Finger mounted blades are generally the least effective weapons. You are kinda really limited by the strength of your fingers.

At least compared to knives or swords. Or Tekko-Kagi. Some of the moves Freddy Kreuger performed with those glove blades of his would have been more apt to break a persons fingers in real life. But then again the design was intended to generate fear, not necessarily to be the most effective killing tool.

But that is not to say that they couldn’t be lethal. There is some evidence to suggest that Kuniochi used similar weapons (albeit much smaller versions ) called Neko-te. Which, I believe, were essentially the same thing, except they were claws attached to the fingers. I doubt they were effective for killing though, unless tipped with poison.

Nonetheless I always thought that one day I would make a pair of gloves just like these. And now it seems that I won’t have to. Though I’m still conflicted. It might be more fun to just make a pair myself… Mua ha ha ha ha….! Sleep much lately?

Freddie Claws – [SouthWest Blades]

Want Wolverine Claws?

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

OK Bub! Who wants some! No, really, ya want some Wolverine claws? Too bad. Ya can’t have ’em. But I can get you a cool set of hand claws that are almost as intimidating.

Pantera Claw by Tom Anderson

Pantera Claw by Tom Anderson

Now any true Wolverine fan should, at this juncture, be aghast. For many, many reasons. First of all, this set of claws bears only a passing resemblance to what they are supposed to be modeled after, and should not, in any form, have been made representative of the glorious splendor that are Wolverines retractable adamantium claws. Really. I mean seriously. About the only thing loosely linking the two are that they are claws of some sort. Aarrrgh!

And then look at the design. These are simple hand claws. Essentially a pair of fancy brass knuckles with claws attached. Not, by any stretch of the imagination, Wolverine claws. They would not exactly provide the most secure grip for any serious “clawing” action, probably tending to rotate out of the hand in that particular application, though they would make for a great stabbing weapon, much like how a set of brass knuckles make for a great punch enhancer.

Now being that I’m not *entirely* insane, I’ll readily admit that designing, fabricating and surgically installing an accurate, working set of Wolverine claws would pose some serious mechanical and physiological problems, since the average human lacks the kind of space in their forearms to house a set of blades internally like that without looking like a freak. Or Popeye.

There is also the issue of the appropriate physiological voids and guides (or lack thereof) required to allow for repeated deployment without the wholesale destruction of the various tissues of your forearm in the process. And I won’t even get into the strength, ligament structure or musculature that would be required to effectively deploy, use and retract the blades. But there are better solutions.

The closest and most accurate reproduction to a set of real wolverine claws I can think of would be a forearm mounted contraption, similar to the Tekko-Kagi hand claw employed by the Japanese Ninja:

The Japanese Tekko-Kagi

The Japanese Tekko-Kagi

Much like the Tekko-Kagi pictured above, the hand claw design I would employ would be secured at both the wrist and around the hand/over the palm. In addition it would have a platform mounted rail that would be secured at the elbow. The blades would be mounted to a hinged sliding base attached to the rail. When retracted, the blades would be stored over the forearm, and when extended would be anchored at a hinge point just above the wrist, with the base of the blades above the hinge strapped to the back of the hand. Now here’s another interesting design:

Nate Showing off Wolverine Claws

Nate Showing off Wolverine Claws

The joker in the pic above had the right idea. I ran into his site (**see note below) about 4 years ago, (long before this blog was a gleam in my eye) and was suitably impressed. It doesn’t seem to have been built with longevity/durability under practical use in mind, but it is about as close to an authentic pair of wolverine claws as I think you could ever get. At least not without surgery anyway.

And yes. You read correctly. I said “durability under practical use.” in reference to a set of forearm mounted, retractable steel claws. No. You are incorrect. I did not, at any point, claim to be sane. I merely stated that I wasn’t *entirely* insane. There is a big difference. Get it straight. I am demented. But enough about me.

OK, my intention is not to totally dis these Pantera Claws the entire post. There are other examples of replica wolverine claws, like some of the cast replicas that are practically useless for anything other than trying to look cool. The fact of the matter is that the Pantera claws wouldn’t be in this blog if they didn’t have any intrinsically redeeming value.

Which, in this case, is that they are a set of real sharp steel claws of a very intimidating variety. My only real beef is that the really shouldn’t have tried to ride the X-Men/Wolverine gravy train, but on their own merits they are actually works of art. The simulated wood grain composite grips on these blades are beautiful. Even without the blades they would have made for a very attractive set of brass knuckles.

With the blades they are actually quite the intimidating piece. The blades have the right amount of menacing curve to them, and the recesses on the spine and below the blade just ahead of the grip add to the sinister stance of the brushed finished 440 Stainless steel claws as they rise from the grip. Altogether a very impressive and menacing design. Would almost certainly give your average opponent the heeby-jeebies to have to face something like that on the street.

Though I can’t think of many scenarios where one might be carrying something like this around when such an altercation might occur. Unless you decided to pick a fight for the sole purpose of testing out this bad boy. You did didn’t you. You Hooligan… Instigator.. Hoodlum. You better watch yourself there, bub… I’ve got an eye on you and and a very itchy claw…

**Update!:
Nates Wolverine Claw construction site is currently inaccessible. Fortunately, I have put together a guide listing some of the common wolverine claw replicas and memorabilia, as well as a link to a page with the relevant construction information in this post. Thought it might save a few Wolverine fanatics a trip across the entire intarwebs… Happy Hunting!!

Anderson Cutlery’s Pantera Claw – [True Swords]

PhyreBlades Ultimate Wolverine Claw Reference Guide – [Realm of The Dark Blade]

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