Saturday, October 24, 2009

Selecting a Katana for Japanese Swordsmanship - Weight and Balance

Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the benefits of heavy and light katana. Light katana can feel unsubstantial, but can make long practice sessions easier, specially if you have developed elbow problems. A heavy katana can help build up strength and may feel more like a Shinken.
I do not believe however, that Iaido is meant to build up strength. If you really want to build up strength, use a heavy Suburito (Super heavy Boken) to practice repetitive cuts (Suburi).

Balance should be considered as well as weight. Your sword will feel heavier if it has a forward balance.

Balance is the measure of the balance point of an iaito in inches from the tsuba (guard). A larger balance point with a heavy blade will make the iaito feel very heavy. A heavy tsuba will make an iaito heavier, and improve the balance. A light tsuba will make the iaito feel more tip heavy and more like a shinken.

There are various ways to determine the balance point of a Sword. Below is an illustration of the unusual Scythian way to simultaneously determine the balance of 2 scimitars.

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