In the twelfth century the favoured style of blade was the Tachi, which was slug by 2 hangers on the left side of the person edge down. This positioning allowed the samurai to draw the blade from groin to head. Later the style of battle evolved and the katana replaced the tachi as the preferd weapon. The Tachi remains in use but in a smaller capacity. The golden age of blade making (1294 to 1427) this was also the golden age of the Tachi

The tachi was more often seen on the warlords and generals as a highly decorated blade showing their position and power in society. They also favoured it for practical reasons the blade was more curved and made it more effective for them to cut downwards from horseback on to their enemy’s. Where as the average samurai would be fighting on foot. During this period five famous schools of sword making arose, their location was based on proximity to the need for swords (centres of administration), easy access to ore and charcoal, a plentiful supply of good water and a cool climate. The five schools were Bizen, Yamashiro, Yamato, Soshu and Mino.

The Mongolian lesson.

The style of fighting during this period was one on one combat. Where one warrior would ride out and challenge a worthy opponent from the other side to engage in mortal combat. However, in 1274 and 1281 the Mongols invaded Japan.

The Mongols did not fight by the traditional Japanese methods of challenges and individual combat. In order to fight the Mongols successfully, the Japanese needed to adapt and learn to fight as a group. Although the Mongol armies were beaten primarily by the weather (Kamekaze, the divine winds), the Mongol invasion brought about a conscious need for a strong national defence and sword smiths sprang up all over the country

Late in the Muromachi Period saw the rise of internal warfare once again. This led to over 100 years of civil wars in Japan as warlords fought for land and power. The warlords were concerned with the need for more land and more power. Because Japan was involved in an internal war, the need for sword makers rose yet again. However, the result is that the quality went down even though there were more swords. Swords from this period are considered inferior, and the skills of the sword smiths from the golden age were lost, some say forever.

Basic types of Japanese blades.

Katana or long sword has a blade of 24.5 inches or longer, the short sword or Wakizashi is from 12 to 24 inches, the tanto or dagger is less than 12 inches. There are many other styles of Japanese blades but these are the basics you must know.. The samurai warrior carried both of these thrust through the waistband edge up. This made for a quicker draw. With a slight turn of the scabbard he could change the angle of the cut to be from groin to head or horizontal. The wakizashi was used after the katana failed, fighting in enclosed spaces, close quarter combat and for some in a special technique called Nito Ryu (two swords at once)

Read more about the unique style of the samurai katana

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