I have heard that the unusual strength of Japanese blades is due to the intense tempering process which worked the blades to a point well beyond what was usual in the West. I have a Wikipedia article open but my cursory examination of the text (only the merest part) does not confirm or deny this knowledge. I don’t have the patience or the time to go into this any further. I am not writing this because I am comparing myself to a Japanese blade which must go through an extremely strenuous tempering process in order to become strong. I am not writing this because I feel as if I am being tested or because my strength is faltering but I see some positive outcome on the other end. I am not writing this because I have been heated and bent in half and in this state I can only look forward to some future where I have been reformed into a blade much sharper and stronger than most. I am only writing this to demonstrate my curiosity in Japanese blades, albeit a curiosity that pertains only to their relevance to myself, to a fact that may not be true but corresponds to a vague feeling that I have or think I have.

3 Comments

  1. Not saying Western Swordsmiths would have ever achieved the same level of cutting power if they worked towards the same goal, but one of the major differences was that as the middle ages wore on the Western European blade was meant to penetrate heavier and heavier armor, while the Japanese blade was meant to penetrate relatively light armor.

    The form factor is heavily dependent on the tactics in use. Where heavy armor was in use, and thus the specifically undefended parts of the body were to be attacked, the thrust was the preferred form, and thus the straight edge was preferred. Where the armor was light, or the swordsman was mounted, the curved blade was ideal – such as on the Japanese isles, or the mounted warriors of Central Asia and the Middle East, or for a more modern example the mounted cavalry units of the Early Modern Period, through the Civil War era when Armor was rendered obsolete by the gun.

    It’s worth noting that even against lightly armored Celts the Romans still preferred the thrust, specifically to the major artery located beneath the armpit. I’d say this was largely due to the lack of mounted Roman soldiers during the period, and the fact that the Roman legions depended heavily on tactics which any conscript could master.

    History’s winner? For my money the skilled mounted bowmen of the Turkic and Mongol hordes, though given the terrain of the Japanese isles they may have been slaughted (if the Mongol hordes hadn’t been destroyed by kamikaze)

  2. oh hey sorry babyn that was me testing out my new spambot I’m glad it landed on a relevant post!

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