There have been numerous articles and television programs comparing the different types of hand held combat weapons from various ages and cultures. These shows and articles tend to focus on the effectiveness of each weapon and its simplicity. Of course the most discussed hand held weapon is the sword primarily because it has been so written about in plays, poems and books. When comparing the sword of the Medieval Period, the katana or samurai sword is usually compared to the European longsword or even the “bastard” sword. Typically each article or show have discussed the superiority of the samurai sword over all the other swords of the same awesome katana period.
The stuff of legends, the samurai have intrigued cultures all across the world for centuries. Stories of conquest and barbarianism riddle the pages of history. During the time of feudalistic Japan, around the height of the European Middle Ages, Japan was under a tremendous civil war lasting about 100 years. It is during this period that the great katana emerged mainly out of necessity for survival.
Some argue that it is the best sword type ever to be manufactured. Without a doubt it is one of the most formidable. The katana went through many years of refinement before truly becoming the samurai’s weapon of choice. Many swords or sword-like weapons had been around for centuries before the forging advancements reached such a level as to produce the katana.
Truly a masterpiece of Medieval weaponry, the katana was believed by the Japanese warrior class to have a living spirit embedded in the steel itself. This belief made the sword a religious icon. This idea further empowered the wearer of the katana making it a vital part of the samurai lifestyle. As part of the samurai arsenal, he was never without his sword. They may be the originators behind the “don’t leave home without it” slogan.
The katana has been shown to stand the test of time. Although its use as a weapon is outdated, it still fascinates historians who study cultural weapon types. Even during times when firearms were more prevalent the katana was still lopping heads off of Japanese adversaries as seen during World War II.
Samurai swords are still being sold around the world by various merchants primarily for display. Practice and combat swords are still being produced, some even by hand making them very expensive. However, most of the swords produced are replicas made from inferior metals compared to the true katana of the Some are sold in sets of three or four decorated with magnificent designs. No matter what their use is today, the katana will always be a part of a grand culture of mystery and intrigue.