About Me: "Wakiya" (Thunder)
I am a Tribal, Musician, Writer, Artist. I try to walk the path and have studied the tradition of the "Wisdom keepers" like Lame Deer, Fools Crow, Black Elk, and Rolling Thunder from the tribes of this region, and Lao Tzu, Buddha, Bodhidharma, Yeshua, and other enlightened ones from the many various tribes of the earth. I understand the worlds religions and belief systems, and realize the division this can cause by the lack of understanding the "real message" from the Masters. My intention, and life's prayer is to try to live in harmony with Grandmother Earth, Grandfather sky, (Nature) and "the spirit that moves in all things," and help in any way I can to build a bridge between all men and tribes so they can walk their path in a manner that will benefit themselves, the Earth and others. I open up, and ask Great Spirit, The creator, The Tao, The Universe, to work and direct healing and positive energy through me by different means, like the Flute, drums, Words, Prayer, and Touch. I try to be loving and accept others from the heart, and practice forgiveness. I honor all people, the winged one's, and four legged ones considering us all equal, not one being above another. I honor the bountiful Harvest from Mother earth in the form of plant life, water, air and herbs which sustain our oneness with her. I pray all tribes should re-unite as one, so we may protect the planet and live in harmony. Within you, without you.

Mitakuye Oyasin
( all my relations)


Japanese swords

A Japanese sword, or nihontō (Japanese sword?), is one of the traditional bladed weapons of Japan. These are categorised in several types according to size and method of manufacture. The most commonly known type is the katana, which, like the similarly formed tachi, is a single-edged and, usually, curved long sword which was traditionally used by samurai from the 1400s onwards; Wakizashi is the shorter sword; Tsurugi are double-edged long swords; Ōtachi or Nodachi are older but longer single-edged versions.

Although they are pole-mounted weapons, the Naginata and Yari are still considered part of the Nihonto family due to the methods by which they are forged.

Japanese swords are still commonly seen; antique and modernly-forged swords can easily be found and purchased. Modern, authentic nihontō are made by a few hundred swordsmiths. Many examples can be seen at contests hosted by the All-Japan Swordsmiths Association.

Early history
Tachi by Norishige ca. 1300 CE, made ō-suriage (greatly shortened) during the Edo period for use as a "katana" by cutting off the original nakago and reforming it higher up the cutting edge.

Before 987, examples of Japanese swords were straight chokutō or jōkotō and others with unusual shapes. In the Heian period (8th to 11th centuries) sword-making developed through techniques brought over from China through trade in the early 10th century during the Tang Dynasty and through Siberia and Hokkaidō, territory of the Ainu people. The Ainu used warabite-tō and these influenced the nihontō, which was held with two hands and designed for cutting, rather than stabbing. According to legend, the Japanese sword was invented by a smith named Amakuni (ca.700 AD), along with the folded steel process. The folded steel process and single edge swords had been invented in the early 10th century Japan. Swords forged between 987 and 1597 are called kotō ("old swords"); these are considered the pinnacle of Japanese swordcraft. Early models had uneven curves with the deepest part of the curve at the hilt. As eras changed the center of the curve tended to move up the blade.

The nihonto as we know it today with its deep, graceful curve has its origin in shinogi-zukuri (single-edged blade with ridgeline) tachi which were developed sometime around the middle of the Heian period to service the need of the growing military class. Its shape reflects the changing form of warfare in Japan. Cavalry were now the predominant fighting unit and the older straight chokutō were particularly unsuitable for fighting from horseback. The curved sword is a far more efficient weapon when wielded by a warrior on horseback where the curve of the blade adds considerably to the downward force of a cutting action.

The tachi is a sword which is generally larger than a katana, and is worn suspended with the cutting edge down. This was the standard form of carrying the sword for centuries, and would eventually be displaced by the katana style where the blade was worn thrust through the belt, edge up. The tachi was worn slung across the left hip. The signature on the tang (nakago) of the blade was inscribed in such a way that it would always be on the outside of the sword when worn. This characteristic is important in recognising the development, function and different styles of wearing swords from this time onwards.

When worn with full armour, the tachi would be accompanied by a shorter blade in the form known as koshigatana ("waist sword"); a type of short sword with no hand-guard (tsuba) and where the hilt and scabbard meet to form the style of mounting called an aikuchi ("meeting mouth"). Daggers (tantō), were also carried for close combat fighting as well as carried generally for personal protection.

The Mongol invasions of Japan in the thirteenth century spurred further evolution of the Japanese sword. Often forced to abandon traditional mounted archery for hand-to-hand combat, many samurai found that their swords were too delicate and prone to damage when used against the thick leather armor of the invaders. In response, Japanese swordsmiths started to adopt thinner and simpler temper lines. Certain Japanese swordsmiths of this period began to make blades with thicker backs and bigger points as a response to the Mongol threat.

By the fifteenth century, the Sengoku Jidai civil war erupted, and the vast need for swords together with the ferocity of the fighting caused the highly artistic techniques of the Kamakura period (known as the "Golden Age of Swordmaking") to be abandoned in favor of more utilitarian and disposable weapons. The export of nihontō reached its height during the Muromachi period when at least 200,000 nihontō were shipped to Ming Dynasty China in official trade in an attempt to soak up the production of Japanese weapons and make it harder for pirates in the area to arm.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, samurai who increasingly found a need for a sword for use in closer quarters along with increasing use of foot-soldiers armed with spears lead to the creation of the uchigatana, in both one-handed and two-handed forms. As the Sengoku civil wars progressed, the uchigatana evolved into the modern katana, and replaced the tachi as the primary weapon of the samurai, especially when not wearing armor. Many longer tachi were shortened in the 15th-17th centuries to meet the demand for katana.

The craft decayed as time progressed and firearms were introduced as a decisive force on the battlefield. At the end of the Muromachi period, the Tokugawa shoguns issued regulations controlling who could own and carry swords, and effectively standardized the description of a nihontō.

For More: The philosophy of samurai swords

KPBS Special Nova video on The Samurai Sword

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