Ninja Swords

Hollywood vs History: the search for a fully functional Ninjato

When most people think of Ninja swords, they are generally thinking of one of two designs.

Either the cheap stainless steel ‘tactical’ Ninja swords or the straight edged ‘Hollywood’ versions.
Neither of these versions would have ever been used by the historical Ninja. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have their merits.
    In this article, we will be taking a look at these two main categories, but also introducing a third.
Because, as you will see, there was such thing as a historical Ninjato – it just doesn’t look anything like what most people would expect.
Tactical Ninja Swords

Typically retailing at around $10 to $60 on sites such as Trueswords.com – these swords are obviously the most commonly available Ninja style blades on the internet.

However, as far as performance goes, it should come as no surprise that these one piece ‘full tang’ swords are left wanting. And while they may feel sharp – the sad reality is that they could not cut their way out of a paper bag.

Naturally though, there are a few exceptions. And the review below, submitted by a SBG visitor, demonstrates that while most 'Tactical' Ninja swords on the market are not really worthwhile - there is one out there that costs just a little more, but is worth every penny (and then some).

TACTICAL Ninja Sword Reviews
 
Ontario Knife Co. Black Wind Katana ”Blackwind Katana”
Review by Mr. B. Smith

Manufacturer: Ontario Knife Co.
Status: AVAILABLE

Classification:
Fully Functional Beater

Price Range: US$132
Overall Rating: NOT RATED

Hollywood Ninja Swords
 
The second most common style of Ninja swords are the straight bladed Chokuto style ‘Hollywood’ Swords.
The actual historical accuracy of these swords is very doubtful to say the least.

(There are no actual antique swords of this style and it is generally believed that the design is a modern invention of martial arts master Stephen K. Hayes).

But regardless of whether or not this design is historically accurate, it is this style of sword that most people imagine when they are asked to describe a Ninjato.

The majority of Hollywood Ninja swords are not much better than the ‘Tactical’ Ninjato. However, there are a few that are actually quite functional – and one in particular that would have to be one of my favourite and most practical swords of all time...
Musashi Swords make an all blackened steel Ninjato, the Koga Ninja Sword that is quite a decent cutter, though somewhat simplistic looking. And Masahiro make one that is reasonably attractive and functional, the Tsunami Nin-to, though the blade is a little thin and the tip completely wrong.
         
     
Hollywood Ninja Sword Reviews
 
         
”Practical Ninja Sword”
Review by Paul Southren (Editor)

Manufacturer: Hanwei Forge
Status: AVAILABLE

Classification:
Differentially Hardened Cutter

Price Range: US$169 to $271
Overall Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

         
Musashi Koga Ninja Sword ”Koga Ninja Sword”
Review by Jesse Haushalter

Manufacturer: Musashi Swords
Status: AVAILABLE

Classification:
Budget Ninja sword

Price Range: US$59 to $75
Overall Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Authentic Ninja Swords

Ask 10 different people what kind of swords the Ninja used and you’ll get 10 different answers. Indeed, 3 or 4 of those answers will likely include ‘there was no such thing as Ninja, just specialized Samurai trained in Chinese techniques of espionage and assassination’.

However, there is one modern day organization that is dedicated to penetrating the shadows, and has created a very down to earth and practical martial arts system based on the fighting style of the classical Ninja – and that is Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi’s Bujinkan Federation.

If you ask Dr. Hatsumi about Ninja swords, he will tell you that they were typically swords that looked like a normal Japanese Katana when sheathed, but disguised a much shorter blade that could clear the scabbard in an instant and was versatile enough to be used in situations where a normal Katana would become cumbersome and unwieldily.

In response to requests by practitioners of the Bujinkan, my favourite manufacturer of Japanese swords, Cheness Cutlery, developed a custom Bujinkan Ninjato made to closely resemble one owned by Dr. Hatsumi – the Togakure Ryu Ninjato.

Authentic Ninja Sword Reviews

Cheness Cutlery Bujinkan Katana ”The Oniyuri”
Review by Paul Southren (Editor)

Manufacturer: Cheness Cutlery
Status: AVAILABLE

Classification:
Ultra Durable Cutter

Price Range: US$249
Overall Rating: 4/5 (Excellent

CONCLUSION

So there you have it. A selection of sub US$300 Ninja swords, from the tactical, to the Hollywood replicas and even the real thing.

Personally, out of all the Ninja swords out there, the two reviewed here are the only two really worth getting. And while they might be just a little more expensive than the mountain of low end ‘Ninjato’ – if you were a real modern day Ninja whose life depended on the sword you selected – you wouldn’t touch any of the others with a 10’ pole.