Swords are the perfect extension of the body.

Action Movies, Katana, Stunts, Sword -

Swords are the perfect extension of the body.

Is the sword the perfect natural weapon?

Agree or not, a sword is definitely a legendary weapon that has earned it's place to be in the hands of skilled fighters.

So why is it called the perfect extension of the body?

Well before we get into that, let's get a brief history down from what is probably the most famous sword, the Katana. You know it from all those ninjas out there making movies. Ninjas!

History of the katana

"The katana is generally defined as the standard sized, moderately curved (as opposed to the older tachi featuring more curvature) Japanese sword with a blade length greater than 60.6 cm (​23 12 inches) (Japanese 2 Shaku).[6] It is characterized by its distinctive appearance: a curved, slender, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard (tsuba) and long grip to accommodate two hands.[6]

With a few exceptions, katana and tachi can be distinguished from each other, if signed, by the location of the signature (mei) on the tang (nakago). In general, the mei should be carved into the side of the nakago which would face outward when the sword was worn. Since a tachi was worn with the cutting edge down, and the katana was worn with the cutting edge up, the mei would be in opposite locations on the tang"  

The first use of katana as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi occurs as early as the Kamakura Period (1185–1333).[6] These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower-ranking warriors. The Mongol invasions of Japan facilitated a change in the designs of Japanese swords. Thin tachi and chokutō-style blades were often unable to cut through the boiled leather armour of the Mongols, with the blades often chipping or breaking off.[13] The evolution of the tachi into what would become the katana seems to have continued during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the katana-style mei were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the mei facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner.[14][15]

Kissaki (point) of an Edo period katana
Nakago (tang) of an Edo period katana

The rise in popularity of katana amongst samurai came about due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on short response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt.[6][16]

The length of the katana blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to have lengths between 70 and 73 centimetres (27 12 and 28 34 in). During the early 16th century, the average length dropped about 10 centimetres (4 in), approaching closer to 60 centimetres (23 12 in). By the late 16th century, the average length had increased again by about 13 centimetres (5 in), returning to approximately 73 centimetres (28 34 in).[16]

Koshirae (mountings) of an Edo period daishō, rayskin wrapped with silk

The katana was often paired with a smaller companion sword, such as a wakizashi, or it could also be worn with a tantō, a smaller, similarly shaped dagger. The pairing of a katana with a smaller sword is called the daishō. Only samurai could wear the daishō: it represented their social power and personal honour. - Wikipedia

It is not by any means the only Swords out there. We all know the broadsword made famous by medieval films like Conan The Barbarian - How big was Arnold Schwarzenegger back then. 

If you have studied a kung fu style then you would be more familiar with a lighter and sometimes more flexible blade. These swords are used more with precision and speed rather than raw power.

Most martial arts has their own version of the sword, so there must be a reason that swords became so popular and I have a theory. They are easy to carry and very good at killing people, when in the hands of a skilled fighter, but even a complete beginner can stick the pointy end into the target or take a wild swing.


So is it the perfect extension of the body?

Maybe, maybe not, it depends on the user and I would argue that if you train long enough and with precision of any weapon then that will become the natural extension for you.

So how do you know if you have mastered the sword it is said that when you can't tell the point of the weapon from the tip of your index finger and when you can't tell the point of your index finger from the point of a weapon you have achieved a natural extension. So if you imagine pointing your fingers and the tip of the blade following.

Try not to see the sword as a tool, see it as a part of your body, interact with it in the same sort of fluid and natural movements you would with your body. Don't force the sword but feel it. Feel it's weight and length and the way it lifts and falls.

Yes, when you first start it will feel like you are forcing the blade to move where you want it to go. Learning is always like this because you are training your body to interact and move in a systematic way. 

Conclusion - Is a sword the perfect extension of the body?

Yes and no if you ask me.

I am a sword fan and have trained lots with many styles of swords, but never enough to be a master even after forty years of martial arts and movie stunt performing. I think if you pick something and stick with it then indeed it will be very natural, but you compromise knowledge and skill development of all the other weapons out there. They all have their place and they are all fun.

The sword is no doubt a beautiful weapon and will be used in martial arts movies for, well forever I guess, so it's a good skill to learn and swords are great to have around the home as a decorative piece that is functional in the terrible situation that you need to defend yourself in your own home.

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