Posts Tagged ‘Weapon’

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… 🙂 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… 😀

Traditional Ninja Shuko – [Nine Directions]

Weapons of the Klingon Empire – Short CQC Swords!

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Welcome to the latest installment of Phyreblades treatise on Klingon melee weapons. If you’ve been following the blog for any amount of time you’ll know I am a fairly big Star Trek fan. Not as fanatical, perhaps, as most, but I certainly do love Star Trek, and everything it has brought for the Sci-Fi genre, not to mention it’s innumerable cultural contributions. But I digress. We are here today to talk about weapons. 🙂

In previous posts I’ve talked a little about Klingon battle axes, such as the ‘aqleH and the oh so popular Klingon knife, the D’k Tahg. And who can forget the ubiquitous Bet’leH? I doubt anyone can think of a Klingon without thinking of a Bet’leH. But today, I’m going to talk about a somewhat less popular, and certainly not as well known Klingon weapon, and some of the other designs it has spawned. I speak of none other but the deadly MeqleH!

MeqleH - The Klingon Short Sword

MeqleH - The Klingon Short Sword

Now Klingon legend has it that the MeqleH was a weapon borne of necessity. While the Klingons were still planet bound, the Bet’leH was a perfectly fine battle weapon, and they rarely used any other. However, once they became a space faring race, things changed a little. Instead of the open battlefields and large arenas they were used to, they were stuck in closed, cramped space ship quarters.

This changed the face of battle for them, as the venerable Bet’leH, while still a potent weapon, was rather large, and somewhat more difficult to bring to bear in the tight confines of a Klingon Bird of Prey. The first space faring Klingons, ever the resourceful warriors, took to  fashioning shorter, faster weapons from one thing they apparently had lots of. Bulkhead supports.

It is said that this is where the unique shape of the MeqleH came from, as they were initially designed to fit against the curved interior bulkheads of the early Klingon space ships, as well as provide support for various conduits and pipes. They simply cut them to size, and sharpened all the available edges. And thus, a new Klingon Battle weapon was born. The MeqLeH!

Or so I am told.

Truth is, regardless of it’s heritage, it is just a really cool design. But it does have some weaknesses. Like little to no thrusting ability. However the design that has spawned a few new but similarly themed designs, none of which have that particular problem to the same degree:

Volkoth Simikath - Klingon Derived Melee Sword

Volkoth Simikath - Klingon Derived Melee Sword

This, is one of them. The Volkoth Simikath. As you can see, the Volkoth Simikath is significantly different from the MeqLeh in design, however it does borrow much from the design of the Klingon Axe, especially the ‘alngegh. I could totally see a Klingon weapon master deciding to use a scaled down axe design as the basis for a melee combat weapon, and this would fit the bill perfectly.

Volkoth Simikath - Klingon Derived CQC Sword

Volkoth Simikath - Klingon Derived CQC Sword

Here’s another etched version, with a leather wrapped grip, a look much more befitting of it’s style. At least in my opinion. The Volkoth Simikath sports a double edged head, much like an axe, except with a much deeper void between the edges, presumably for capturing an enemy blade during a close quarters battle. It certainly doesn’t help it’s strength any, that’s for sure.

And there is yet one more:

Volkoth Simkar - Klingon Derived CQC Sword

Volkoth Simikar - Klingon Derived CQC Sword

The Volkoth Simikar. This is my favorite variation on the hybrid MeqLeH design. This one hearkens a bit farther back towards the original MeqLeH design, with the secondary, rearward facing  blade reduced to little more than a short talon. However, there are talons and claws everywhere on this weapon. Besides the one  up top, you have one downwards facing little blade at the pommel, with a smaller protrusion facing forward.

This time, both voids are very small, but just large enough to catch a blade either with the pommel or the head, *but* with the added bonus of the main blade extending down a full 3/4 of the way back down the blade to provide additional cutting surface, and hand protection, much like the original meqLeH. It is probably a weaker design than either of the others, however it should be a little faster.

Either way, it is just an absolutely dark, malevolent weapon whose lines I just love to death. What else can I say?

Anyway, I think that is enough weapon ogling for me, I must take my leave of you to clean up the drool from my keyboard, and plan my next post. Until next time.

QAPLA’ My friends. May you bring eternal honor to your house! The Crest of the Klingon Empire

MeqLeH – [By the Sword]
Volkoth Simikath – [By the Sword]
Volkoth Simikath – [Strange Steel]
Volkoth Simikar – [Strange Steel]

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