Samurai Sword Handling By James Peterson
By Bob Hubbard - Sun, 11 Mar 2007 20:57:28 GMT


Samurai Sword Handling
By James Peterson

Sword in Japanese culture played a significant part throughout the history. Japanese sword was believed to have a kind of mystical air about it. A warrior approached his sword like a thing, or rather a person, imbued with the power and supernatural properties with utmost awe and respect. Those who possessed a sword followed certain rules, which were a part of whole Samurai code. A true Samurai would stick to Sword etiquette and any deviance from it will not simply indicate the carelessness, but disrespect for traditions and high standards of the warrior.

Restrictions on sword handling

One of the strong evidence of the sword importance was the fact that women were not allowed to even touch it unless they touch it with the kimono sleeves. In some cases, a woman entering the room where a samurai would clean his sword would be treated with disapproval. In general, samurai cleaned his swords like a real treasure. He could, for instance, use a mosquito netting to protect it from dust. Others would use a piece of paper in their mouth so that not the slightest spittle could fall on the samurai sword. And those who were especially devout would not even breathe in close with the sword.
Generally speaking it was prescribed for all samurais to care about their swords and follow certain standards of handling it.

Receiving a sword

When a warrior receives a samurai sword he is expected to bow as to show his honor and respect towards the giver and swordsmaker. You should keep in mind that every samurai sword has its own story to tell and receiving it was quite a significant event to any dignified warrior.

Unsheathing a sword

You should be allowed to unsheathe the sword. When you take the blade out of the scabbard(saya), you can only hold it in your left hand and move it carefully in order not to cause any minor scratches or even touch to it. The longer the sword, the more care you should take. In order to do so, you should grasp it in the middle from underneath and withdraw it slowly with your right hand. The blade should be taken out entirely and the ha(cutting edge) should always be turned upwards.

Placing back a sword

When a samurai puts his sword back in the scabbard he takes saya(scabbard) with his left hand and the sword will be held by the hilt in the other hand. When he places the sword back, he should carefully hold the blade immovable and glide it towards the opening. When the tip reaches the opening it is necessary to push it firmly to put the sword into the scabbard.

Handling a sword

If a samurai handles his sword to someone else he should hold it with the cutting edge directed towards himself. With the point upwards, the cutting edge directed to the holder and his hand grasping the pommel, he leaves some space for the receiver to handle it. The receiver will take it, when the holder shows him that he is releasing the grasp with the slight shake of the sword. As soon as the receiver takes the sword he turns it with the cutting edge towards himself.

Examining a sword

Samurai should pay special attention to the blade- the contact with bare hands should be avoided entirely. You may only use either a rice paper or a special cloth for this purpose. To apply more careful approach he could put on white gloves to protect the blade from any bare contact.
Warrior is not expected to talk about his sword in a manner which can in one way or another seem disrespectful. The holder should ask in advance for his company to talk about its possible flaws.

James Peterson is a true swords lover. To read more articles about swords and swords history visit the Swords blog - Also you can find a great number of japanease swords at the amazing Swords Shop

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