Posts Tagged ‘Truncheon’

Metallurgy 101

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

OK, so I’ll begin this post by apologizing for my distinct lack of posts the past few weeks… But I do have a good excuse. I moved!! I am now hidden away in a new cave, in a suitably isolated location, where I can hopefully blog in peace, without some pesky human happening upon my hidey hole (and me) and deciding it’s a good century to form a party and go Balrog hunting…

No, don’t laugh, it could happen… What, you think Balrogs can’t be swiftboated? Think again. Which is a shame, seriously, cause it’s the 21st century, and you’d think all that mess would have gotten old… But Noooooo… Ya crazy humans… But I digress.

Today I’ll be ranting a little about more human insanity. You’ve probably all heard me rave in many shapes and forms about how there are some marketing gimmicks that really could only have been the brainchild of a IQ challenged, maladjusted orc with a serious case of… Well… We’ll not go there today, suffice to say that there is a fine line between marketing genius and insanity.

Case in point: An interesting set of nunchaku called “Solid Steel Assault”.

Solid Steel Assault

Solid Steel Assault

[Click image to view full size]

Ok. I know what you are thinking. And it’s a valid question. What’s wrong with this? Looks like a sweet pair of nunchaku no? Indeed, one of the first weapons I ever made was a pair of nunchaku. Notwithstanding the occasional lump on the head, and the once-in-a-blue-moon occasion with me writhing on the floor, in the foetal position, clutching at my nads in extreme agony, it was all fun. Good times, good times.

Yes. It’s a good pair of nunchaku. Not great, as it’s not a particularly durable (or safe) design, since It uses a bolt threaded directly into the shaft to secure the swivel bracket to which the chain is attached. And unfortunately this bolt has a tendency to keep backing out. But as issues go, that one is easy to fix. If you have the right tools. Though that would be purely academic to a person whose “half chucks” have just launched themselves into their wide screen TV, Wiimote style…

No. Not particularly safe. But my real beef is it’s name. Solid Steel Assault. Now what, pray tell, would you think this nunchaku would be constructed of, with a name like that? I’ll give you one guess. BZZZT!! WRONG!!. Nope. Not steel. Take another wild guess. Nice guess!! You get an invisible cigar. This nunchaku, Impressively named Solid Steel Assault, is made of… ALUMINUM!! Is that crazy or what!!

Now I’ll be the first to admit my alchemy is a little rusty, but aren’t Steel and Aluminum two different kinds of metal? So why, in the name of all that is sacred, would you give an aluminum weapon a name with Solid Steel anywhere in it? Actually… I have a theory.

I think they were originally going to make it of solid steel. Then someone realized that their fastening method left something to be desired, (IE it’s garbage) and decided to change the material du jour, at the last minute, to aluminum. Why? Because it would hurt less when someone came round to beat them over the head with it for their obvious stupidity…

Hey, I’m just saying…

Solid Steel Assault – [True Swords]

Walk Softly… And carry a Sharp stick…

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

In a previous post, I made reference to a weapon called the Jitte, that is similar in many respects to an iron club. It is essentially a short iron or steel rod, with a guard, used by police in feudal Japan, in much the same way that a nightstick is used by law enforcement officers today. Except against swords. Yeah. I’m betting police work may probably have been a bit more nerve wracking back then….

Of course nowadays people have guns… Hmmm… Kinda begs the question: Which would you prefer: To be attacked by a sword and have defend yourself with a Jitte? Or be attacked by a gunman and draw your own gun in defense… Something to think about. Though I’m betting I know how most people will respond… 😀 But as usual I digress.

The reason this subject came up is because I thought I’d do a post on something that combines two of my favorite weapons into a single one. And is still somewhat practical for say… Home defense…?

Night Guardian Ninja Baton

Night Guardian Ninja Baton

[view full size]

Of course, as all good marketing folk are wont to do, the word “Ninja” had to find it’s way into the name for this weapon, as it’s a great selling buzz word these days. Not that a Ninja would never use something like this, but it’s just so… Unnecessary… *sigh*

But anyway, back to my review of the weapon… In case it isn’t clear what you are looking at here, I’ll spell it out for ya. It’s essentially a short narrow sword, looks almost like a bayonet in design, with a black blade, set in a knurled cylindrical brass (or copper colored alloy of unspecified origin) grip.

Now what is cool about this is that the sheath for this thing is actually also made of the same metal as the grip, and is threaded at the opening. The hilt of this weapon is also threaded, both at the transition from the ricasso to the (very small) circular guard (if it can even be called that), and also at the pommel.

This design allows the metal sheath to be screwed securely to the grip when closed, making it in effect a solid metal truncheon! Very cool stuff. In addition, the threads at the pommel allows you to screw the sheath in at the base of the sword, making a kind of extended grip bayonet.

So it’s kind of like a truncheon, with a little extra surprise for when a club just isn’t enough. Which is why I have two. Actually I got them a looong time ago when they first came out, but when I recently ran into some pics of them I had to post about it because I just love these things.

Of course they aren’t perfect. My one peeve with these is that, when closed you can hear the blade hitting the sheath when it is swung with any vigor. This kinda kills the stealth factor of it, and may be a by product of a rat tail tang construction. Which is a downer, because there really would be no reason to not make this a full tang blade. Except for cost, I suppose… But that is perhaps the only major flaw in the design.

But ultimately, I’ve always been a big fan of stick weapons, and swords, and with the metal sheath screwed on, this thing makes for a pretty mean and hefty truncheon. WITH a hidden sword. ALL in a glorious black finish. What’s not to love in a combination like that?

Night Guardian Ninja Baton – True Swords

The Dark Sai…

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

I am an ever constant lurker in a couple of martial arts and blade forums. It just so happened in one of these forums, that there was an interesting discussion about the origins and use of sai, a unique impact weapon I blogged about earlier. Many opinions were offered, but I think it is fair to say that nobody knows for sure where sai truly originated. However I thought quite a coincidence that I also happened to come across this dark beauty:

Japanese Sai Dagger

Japanese sai dagger.
[view full size]

Now this is a cool looking sai. According to the website I found it on, this sai is an “exact replica of the 16th Century fighting knife.” I dunno about all that. I mean, it’s hard enough to find any reliable documentation about the sai, let alone any documentation that would allow anyone to make an exact replica of anything.

In fact there are quite a few design features that are markedly non traditional about this sai. Like the contoured ridged grip. And very sharp point. Traditional Sai usually had a straight cylindrical grip, and a fairly blunt tip. And then there is the flared pommel. Traditional Sai pommels were either straight, had a thick squarish cylinder, or have a multifaceted ball that was used for striking. Not a flared flattened one.

And lets not forget the weird contour of the side prongs. Traditional sai have simple curved prongs, that narrow at the tip, not the complex talon like prongs that this one does. Probably more telling is the fact that this even has a sheath, while traditional sai practitioners wear their Sai in their belts, unsheathed. So I’d take their claims of exact duplicity with a grain of salt.

Thats not to say that this isn’t a beautiful weapon. I love what they’ve done to it. The scale-like contours of the grip, the complex curves of the side prongs, the rather ominous point to the tip, the black finish and even the kanji on the sai and sheath are excellently done.

Traditional sai were mostly used as truncheons rather than daggers. But as a dagger, this sai truly comes into it’s own. I love it.

Japanese Sai Dagger – [Medieval Weapon Arts]

Conjoined Twins… In steel…

Friday, October 26th, 2007

I ran across an interesting variation of “twin swords” recently. A set of twin swords that shared a rather shikomizuesque quality…

Super Twin Swords

Super Twin Sword Combo
[view full size]

As you can see this sword is unique in that it is a set of matching swords, each designed to use the others grip as a scabbard, and when sheathed, they form a single staff. I actually know of one other weapon that operates in a similar manner, and is even closer in design to traditional shikomizue, but that is for another post.

The interesting thing about this weapon is that you can also join both swords together at the pommel to form a double edged short staff. This gives this weapon a rather large amount of flexibility in the number of different ways it can be used. Assuming, of course, that the connection mechanism is sufficiently sturdy (which is doubtful, given the short dimensions of the pommel connectors.)

They could be used individually, connected at the pommel as a double bladed staff, or fully sheathed, as a short staff or impact weapon. And the aesthetics aren’t too shabby either. the grips of each sword is finished in a gray on black scale pattern, with polished accents on the pommel and hilt. Overall a very simple and elegant look.

I like multi-form weapons like these. They are like really large swiss army knives…

 Super Twin Sword Set – [True Swords]

Another club with an identity crisis…

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Today, I thought I’d talk about yet another club. Now this weapon may not be recognizable to you as a blunt striking weapon, but believe me, that is what it is supposed to be. Or at least that is what is used to be. Before Hollywood got it’s grubby little hands on it… OK, I suppose you’ll want to know at some point specifically what kind of weapon I’m talking about… well here it is. Let me introduce you to the elegant Sai

The Okinawan Sai

The Okinawan Sai
[view full size]

No one really seems to know how the Sai Originated. Some historians say that the Sai developed in much the same way that the Japanese Kunai did, as an innocuous garden implement. However there is little concrete evidence of this. There is, however evidence that a similar weapon was used in China, and it is possible that this is a derivative of that weapon, though there isn’t any evidence to support that either. In fact we just don’t have enough real evidence, of any type, relating to its true origin. It’s an enigma. Like me. *Cough*

Regardless of it’s origins, the exotic Sai has become unique focal point of quite a few martial arts movies, in which they have been functionally converted from clubs to knives and daggers. A good well known example was the pair of Sai wielded by the hot-headed Raphael, from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.

 

Raphael’s Sai

TMNT - Raphaels Sai
[view full size]

 

Another more recent addition to the Hollywood Sai club are the elegant weapons of the lethal Assassin Elektra Natchios, (played by Jennifer Garner) from the movies DareDevil, and Elektra.

Elektra’s Sai

Elektra's Sai
[view full size]

Now you will notice that both of these Sai fit the general physical characteristics and use of traditional sai. Except for two oh-so-small details. First, contrary to what hollywood would have you believe, sai were actually unlikely to have ever been used by Japanese ninjas. Nope. It’s all Hollywood lies. The second issue is in regards to the physical design of traditional sai.

You’ll notice that both of the sai featured above have flattened blades and a very sharp tip. In spite of the lack of knowledge regarding the origins of traditional sai, it’s structure and functionality has, in contrast, been very well documented, and is preserved within the styles of many martial arts schools. This is what traditional Sai are supposed to look like:

 

Traditional Okinawan Sai

Traditional Okinawan Sai
[view full size]

You’ll notice that traditional Sai “blades” are round or octagonal in shape, and had relatively blunt/rounded tips. And there was a good reason for that. Unlike the way they are depicted in the modern media, where they are used more like small swords or daggers, traditional Sai are actually truncheons/clubs. More like Jutte, than knives. They were not intended to be used as either daggers or knives, but primarily as an impact weapon Stabbing was not high on the sai functional list, and so if you look at most traditional sai, you will see that the main prong is not sharpened. In fact it has a blunt tip, in line with it’s primary use as a club.

However, that being said, I have to admit that while the new designs don’t exactly conform to traditional Sai specifications, for the most part, I like what has been done with them. A well designed bladed Sai should, in theory, be somewhat more versatile that the traditional, non-bladed design. I would totally use the new version if I had to make a choice.

I mean really:
Old Sai: No blade. New Sai: Double edged blade.
Old Sai: No point. New Sai: Wicked point.
Old Sai: Meh. New Sai (in black, of course): Schwing!!

I’d say it’s a no-brainer. But it could just be me…

Elektra’s Sai – [Medieval Weapon Art]

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