The Japanese were master sword-smiths and used a combination of high carbon steel and low carbon steel that wrapped around each other while forging the blade. The High carbon steel is extremely strong and is able to maintain a sharper edge for much longer than low carbon steel, but because of this hardness, it is also more likely to break in combat. With the low carbon steel blended in to the blade, the sword is now able to maintain a sharp edge and stay strong, but is somewhat flexible and less likely to snap when striking armor or another katana. This made the katana and the smaller swords some of the most dependable swords ever created.
The Samurai never traveled without his Daishō, both of which was hooked inside a sheath with the blade facing upwards. You might think that this would mean he would draw the sword upside down, but Samurai practiced a very fast draw that allowed them to draw their sword and in the same motion strike at an enemy. The Samurai followed a strict code of honor called Bushido which kept a Samurai from breaking certain rules even in combat. These rules did not allow a Samurai to kill an opponent that did not stand a chance to fight back or was not a criminal sentenced to death, so I’m not real sure if they ever used this technique other than when they are ambushed by someone like a Ninja. However, I’m sure this technique saved many Samurai when they walked into an ambush or other trap.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.