The Katana is a curved, single-edged Japanese sword traditionally used by the samurai. In battle, the samurai sword or katana was typically paired with the wakizashi or tanto, a similarly made but shorter sword. Both were worn by members of the Japanese warrior class. The two weapons together were called the daisho, and represented the social power and personal honor of the samurai. Katana with long blade was used for open combat, while the wakizashi or tanto with shorter blade was considered a side arm, more suited for stabbing and close quarters combat. Samurai may have sometimes used the shorter swords for decapitating beaten opponents when taking heads on the battlefield, and seppuku, a form of ritual suicide.
In Japanese language, the scabbard for a katana is referred to as a saya, and the hand guard piece, often intricately designed as an individual work of art, is called the tsuba. Other aspects of the mountings (koshirae), such as the menuki (decorative grip swells), habaki (blade collar and scabbard wedge), fuchi and kashira (handle collar and cap), kozuka (small utility knife handle), kogai (decorative skewer-like implement), saya lacquer, and ito (professional handle wrap, also named emaki), received similar levels of artistry.
Each blade has a unique profile, mostly dependent on the smith and the construction method. The most prominent is the middle ridge, or shinogi. The shinogi can be placed near the back of the blade for a longer, sharper, and more fragile edge - or a more moderate shinogi near the center of the blade. The sword also has a precise shape of the point, which is considered an extremely important characteristic. The point can be long (okissaki), medium (chukissaki), short (kokissaki), or even hooked backwards (ikuri-okissaki). In addition, whether the front edge of the tip is more curved (fukura-tsuku) or (relatively) straight (fukura-kareru) is also important.
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Tanto Knife Reviews
Wakizashi Short Sword
The Wakizashi is the traditional companion piece to the Samurai Katana, the set making up a Daisho. Shorter than the Katana, the Wakizashi was kept on the Samurai's person at all times. Many of the Wakizashi below are made as companion pieces to existing Katana. The wakizashi has a blade between 30 and 60 cm (12 and 24 in), with wakizashi close to the length of a katana being called o-wakizashi and wakizashi closer to tantō length being called ko-wakizashi. The wakizashi being worn together with the katana was the official sign that the wearer was a samurai or swordsman of feudal Japan. When worn together the pair of swords were called daishō, which translates literally as "big-little". The katana was the big or long sword and the wakizashi the companion sword. Wakizashi are not necessarily just a smaller version of the katana; they could be forged differently and have a different cross section.
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Samurai Tanto Knife
A tantō (短刀?, "short blade") is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords that were worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The tantō dates to the Heian period, when it was mainly used as a weapon but evolved in design over the years to become more ornate. Tantō were used in traditional martial arts (tantojutsu) and saw a resurgence of use in the West in the 1980s as the design made its way to becoming a common blade pattern found in modern tactical knives. The Tanto is a common Japanese single or, occasionally, double edged knife or dagger with a blade length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches). In the 16th century, the Tanto was worn with the Tachi as the Daisho of the Samurai. Women would also sometimes wear a smaller version of the Tanto in their Obi (Sash/Belt) for self defense.