How Important is the Length of a Katana Sword
The deadly curved sword of the Japanese Samurai is called the Katana. It is highly recognizable and possibly the most distinguished sword and blade in the world. However, most people don’t know that the Katana’s length is what makes it so powerful.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about the Katana length. We will consider the types and the characteristics of the basic length, from the handle and scabbard to the blade’s edge, how this affects the Katana, and how to be able to choose a perfect Katana length.
The Three Lengths of the Katana
Samurai Katana swords can be grouped in one of three categories according to the blade’s length and how it is mounted. The swords are measured in shaku.
The Japanese foot, or shaku, is a unit of length that comes from the Chinese chi. It was originally based on the distance from the tip of the thumb to the forefinger on a human hand. The length varied depending on where it was used. In today’s standard, it is about 30.3 cm.
1. Over 2 Shaku / 60.6 cm and Longer
Traditional Daito blade types include the Katana, Nodachi, Tachi, etc.
These are the longest types of Katana swords. They are used mostly in manga and video games as two-handed weapons. However, in real life, they were also used as backup weapons.
2. Between 1 Shaku to 2 Shaku / 30.3 cm to 60.6 cm
Shoto Katana blade types, such as the Wakizashi and Daisho swords, were used as backup weapons. It was tied around the waist with the blade facing up. It was light and easy to wear since it was small in size.
3. Under 1 Shaku / 30.3 cm and Less
These include the Tanto Katana blade types as well as the Tanto blade.
Daggers and Tanto blades were short swords mainly used for self-defense. Even small children could use them because of their short lengths.
Katana’s Length Characteristics
The Katana is easily recognizable from its curved, thin, and long single-edged blade, a circular or square guard, and a long handle that can fit both hands.
The curved blade or Nagasa of a Katana sword is usually 60 to 80 cm long.
This is the traditional length of the Katana’s blade. Although it is in this range, you may sometimes find a Katana with a blade size over 80 cm long.
The handle or Tsuka of the Japanese Katana is about 30 cm long.
It can be almost ⅓ of the blade because it offers a firm and wide grasp for the user of the Katana.
The guard or Tsuba of the Katana blade is about 6 cm long.
It is made particularly small and can serve as a protector for the hands of the user, but because of its small size, it is limited in this regard.
The scabbard or Saya for the Katana is usually as long as the blade. This means that the scabbard is usually around 70cm long.
Each Katana has its own scabbard that is an accurate fit, meaning that a Katana cannot go with any scabbard.
What is the Average Katana Length?
The most common average length of a Katana is around 100 cm. This means that the blade of the Katana would be somewhere around 60 to 70 cm long while the handle is 25 to 30 cm.
Although every bladesmith school in Japan might have had its own size and length for creating the perfect Katana, the 100 cm size was perfect for both control and power. This was also the ideal length for a high medieval weapon in Japan, where the average height of a man was 155 to 160 cm.
How does the Length affect the Katana Sword?
A Katana sword should feel like it’s part of your body. That’s why it’s very important to have perfect proportions and an even weight distribution. The length plays a huge role and affects almost everything about the Katana.
The heavier a Katana sword, the harder it is to move. Therefore, the longer the Katana, the heavier it will be.
Long Katana swords are heavier than short Japanese swords, which makes them harder to move.
Because short Katanas are lighter and have less mass, they can swing faster and change direction better. This is something that a swift ninja would prefer.
If your Japanese Katana is too big, it will be hard for you to swing and control. In addition, your training partner and yourself are in danger of getting hurt when your swing is uncontrolled.
If you wield a much bigger Katana, it will become very awkward and unorthodox to handle. On the other hand, if the Katana is too small, you won’t be able to take full advantage of its capabilities.
The correct length is vital when choosing a Katana in Iaido, a Japanese martial art. Every extra inch of sword length adds a millisecond of delay, which can cost the life of a Samurai.
The Katana, which is 100 cm long, can be a deadly weapon in most situations. Samurais have been able to fight at very close distances, such as in-door battles or sometimes fighting even against spears, because they can quickly deflect incoming attacks.
The length and curvature of the Katana ensure that the center of the mass for the Katana is in the middle, or grip. If you increase or decrease the length slightly, the center of mass may shift, diminishing the power of the Katana.
How to Choose a Perfect Katana Length for YOU?
The length of the blade should be listed in the product description section of the store’s website. Remember that most sword makers don’t give you many options, perhaps just a couple of different katana lengths.
So these are some methods to choose the perfect Katana length for you.
Method 1 – Place the Katana next to You
Hold the Katana at your side, so the tip is just above your ankle bone. If you prefer a slightly longer sword, leave at least an inch of space between the tip of the sword and the floor. A longer sword may cause your Katana to scrape on the floor.
Method 2 – Your own Height
When buying a Katana sword, ensure to first take the measurements between your height and the length of the sword. The measurements below can help you choose the right sword.
Your height is shown on the left, while the length of the Katana is on the right.
- 4 ft 11 > 26.2 inches / 150 cm > 66.7 cm
- 5 ft 1 > 26.8 inches / 155 cm > 68.2 cm
- 5 ft 3 > 27.4 inches / 160 cm > 69.7 cm
- 5 ft 5 > 28.0 inches / 165 cm > 71.2 cm
- 5 ft 7 > 28.6 inches / 170 cm > 72.7 cm
- 5 ft 9 > 29.2 inches / 175 cm > 74.2 cm
- 5 ft 11 > 29.8 inches / 180 cm > 75.8 cm
- 6 ft 1 > 30.4 inches / 185 cm > 77.3 cm
- 6 ft 3 > 31.0 inches / 190 cm > 78.8 cm
- 6 ft 5 > 32.2 inches / 200 cm > 81.8 cm
This is the length of the Katana blade. So when taking measurements, add +30% to its size to account for the handle.
Method 3 – Your Forearm and the Katana’s Handle
The handle should be as long as your forearm to ensure the Katana is of the correct size for you.
Measure your arm from your elbow to your wrist. That will give you a good idea of how long your handle should be. A Katana handle is usually in correct proportion with the blade, so using the handle as a guide can ensure that be blade will be appropriate too.
Method 4 – Wooden Katana / Bokken / Iaito
There are many on the market at a very low price.
Do everything possible with this wooden or metal prop Katana to get the feel of it. If it feels like the perfect size for you, obtain a Katana with the same blade and handle length.
Remember that the wooden bokken Katana will not weigh the same as a real one. That is why you can get an Iaito which will be closer to the original sword weight.
How to Properly Measure a Katana’s Length?
Measure the length of the beginning of the handle all the way to the tip, or kissaki, of the blade.
The Katana sword has a very slight curvature. However, this curvature isn’t taken into account when measuring the length of the sword, so you won’t have to worry about it.
To find the correct blade length, measure from the handle to the edge of your samurai sword. Then add the 30 cm from the handle, and you will have successfully measured your Katana.
What is the Longest Katana Sword?
The longest Katana Sword is the O Katana. It is a modern creation of a Katana sword that didn’t exist in history. Usually, the length of the O Katana is around 130 cm to 150 cm long, which resembles a Europe-style long sword.
Katana is known as the world’s strongest cutting tool and weapon only when it is in good shape and the perfect length. Every sword buyer should consider the length of the Katana. The sword should feel like an extension of your arm and enable you to make swift movements.