About Japanese Katana Swords
The katana emerged in the sixteenth century as a curved, single-edged weapon of the Samurai warrior class in Japan. When paired with a shoto (short sword) such as a wakizashi or the dagger-like tanto, the result is a daisho, a pair of swords worn representing the honor, social power and the very soul of the Samurai warrior. The longer katana was used in open combat primarily for cutting, slashing, and parrying maneuvers, while the shorter blades were used for close-quarters stabbing as well as seppuku, or ritual suicide. Katana swords were traditionally worn the edge facing up, and the art of drawing and attacking an enemy, known as iaido took years to master its many intricacies.
Although the traditional intention of the katana is no longer historically appropriate, there are several reasons to pursue a quality Japanese katana in today's world. For one, the art of sword making is highly regarded throughout the world, and particularly in Japan, making authentically made weapons highly collectible. The variations of folded steel can create a hada (grain) pattern of rare beauty, and the crafting of various fittings along with the tempering process of the steel combine to produce a true work of art in the purest sense.
In addition, modern Martial Artists, born of kenjutsu and iaijutsu heritage, have discovered that practicing the art of the sword brings self mastery, discipline, fitness, and a host of other benefits to the modern warrior. Rigorous cutting competitions in tameshigiri require modern warriors to be extremely skilled, having perfected their art over years of study. These warriors of today require high-performance blades with resiliency and various properties depending on the use and purpose of the blade. When beginning study, an un-edged katana (iaito) may be used for drawing practice. Also, when learning to perfect the movements required in cutting, a more durable and generally less expensive sword is called for, to absorb the many "mistakes" that inevitably come. As a warrior progresses, a more authentic blade is sought after, giving more precise performance and reflecting a sense of history and pride in the accomplishments achieved. Then there are the truest production swords of today, offering hand-forged and folded tamahagane steel, stone-polishing and authentic tempering and fittings to the accomplished artist and collector alike.