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Ninja-To


The ninja sword (ninja-to) was different than that of the samurai. The long sword that the samurai carried was made of high-carbon steel, and took months to have made. They were hand made specially for each samurai, taking great care to make a very high quality sword. It was so sharp that it could easily cut a man in two, even through their armor. The length of the samurai swords averaged around 26 1/2 to 37 inches.

The ninja sword was considerably shorter, only 24 inches, and the quality of the swords was much poorer. The reason for the poorer quality was the way they used the sword as opposed to the way the samurai used theirs. Samurai would swing their sword, severing limbs and slashing at the opponent. Ninja, on the other hand, used the sword more in a stabbing motion. To use the blade of the ninja sword effectively you would have to use a sawing motion when the blade came in contact with the opponents flesh.

Another reason for the poor quality of the swords is that since ninja were mostly mountain people and outlaws, they could not afford to hire expert sword smiths like the samurai could. Also their own sword smiths did not have access to the right resources to be able to make curved edge swords with well constructed blades. If a Ninja could overcome a samurai he would take his swords, simply because they are better.

Although the ninja sword was smaller and poorer quality, it still had its advantages. The scabbard for instance was made longer than the sword, about 3 to 4 inches longer. At the end of the scabbard there was a hidden compartment that was used to hide small weapons such as spikes, daggers or small amounts of poisons. Another use the sword had was that it could act as a small step by jamming the blade into the ground, the ninja could use the hand-guard as a step to get that extra height needed to scale a wall. Because the blade was not very sharp, the ninja could also use it as a hammer by holding onto the blade (carefully) and hitting with the handle. Also it was common to have the tip of the scabbard come off so it could be used as a snorkel.


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Bokken



A bokken is a wooden sword usually used for sword training. When a student begins to work with a sword, he learns basic maneuvers with a bokken. However, the bokken can also be used as an effective weapon since it is made of strong, heavy wood. In fact, many Ninja preferred to use the bokken on a mission than a regular sword.

The reasons for this are that a bokken is lighter and easier to carry, there is no risk of cutting oneself, bokken are very easy to camouflage since they can be stained or painted, and, when using proper techniques, a bokken can easily break bones and damage internal organs.


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Tonfa



A wooden baton with two handles: the first at the baton’s end and the other jutting out perpendicular to the baton and placed near where the first handle meets the baton. They resemble modern day police batons very strongly. In fact, this ancient Okinawan weapon is currently enjoying very widespread modern usage by police and security organizations in addition to being used by students of martial arts. Tonfas range from eighteen to twenty-four inches in length, with the handles being about four inches each.

The tonfa was traditionally used in pairs and were made of wood, such as red or white oak. They were used to block or parry other weapons, but they were also spun in a circular motion to thrust or strike. Additionally, by using the long portion in conjunction with the short handle, tonfas were used for arm locks or to control an opponent. When held by the handle and flipped with speed and power, the Tonfa had the same deadly potential as a baseball bat or a club, but it moved faster and was easier to control.

The tonfa was originally a wooden handle that fit into a hole on the side of a millstone used to grind rice and other grains, dating back to fifteenth century Okinawa. The tool was easily disengaged from the millstone and the peasants quickly discovered its power when it was laid across the forearm.


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Nunchuku



Though not a primary weapon of the Ninja, nunchakus (also known as "nunchucks") were used because they could be adapted for many situations. Aside from being easy to carry, the nunchakus were used to defend against most any weapon from a bo to a sword. By trapping the blade of a sword with the chain between the two sticks, a Ninja could entangle and disarm a sword-weilding attacker.

The same concept applies to almost every other weapon. The nunchakus were not just used for defense, they could also be effectively employed against an enemy in an offensive way. The Ninja could strangle an opponent or even execute joint locks with the chain or cord between the two sticks.



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Shuriken



The Shuriken is the trade mark ninja weapon made famous by the movies and stories about the ninja. The Shuriken was simply a flat piece of metal with sharpened points that were thrown at the enemy.

The Shuriken was not originally designed as a killing weapon. It was mostly used to distract or deter so the ninja could escape. While in the midst of a get-away, the Shuriken could be thrown at the samurai chasing the ninja, possibly making the samurai think twice about continuing the chase.

Although the Shuriken was not intended to kill, it was easily made lethal by dipping the edges in poison. This was effective, but sometimes it backfired when the ninja would accidentally cut himself while digging around for it, thus poisoning himself.

Shuriken were also designed to hit the opponent then bounce away out of sight. This way a ninja could fool an unsuspecting guard or sentry into believing he had been cut by an invisible swordsmen. (One of many mental tricks)


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Hand Claw



These were spiked metal bands worn across the palm and attached to another metal ring worn over the wrist. Tekagi are the famous ninja climbing claws. Typically they had four sharpened spikes protruding across the palm which were used for allowing additional grip when climbing, but which could also be used as a raking weapon if needed. It is claimed that the Tokagure Ryu taught sword evasion and defensive techniques with the tekagi. It is also thought that they were used to scratch messages into surfaces for other ninjas to read.


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Sai



Resembling a trident, the sai was a three-pronged dagger. Its basic form was that of an unsharpened dagger, with two long, unsharpened projections (tsuba) attached to the handle. The central prong was the longest, at about sixteen inches, and it was sometimes smooth and other times octagonal. The tsuba were traditionally symmetrical.

The sai’s utility as a weapon was reflected in its distinctive shape. With skill, it could be used effectively against a long sword by trapping the sword’s blade in the sai’s tsuba. Skilled users were able to snap a caught blade with a twist of the hand. There were several different ways of wielding the sai and they were used for stabbing, slashing, punching, blocking, and even throwing. Their heavy iron construction enabled a sai to punch through armor if enough force was used.

It is believed that sais were carried three at a time. Two were used for primary weapons and the third was kept in the belt in case throwing was necessary. Sais were typically thrown at opponents using weapons with a long reach. When thrown, they had a lethal range of up to thirty feet.

The sai was originally used as a farming tool for planting rice or vegetable seeds.


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Calthrop



Tetsu-bishi (also known as calthrops) are small metal weapons shaped so that one point is always up. They, like the shuriken, were a weapon used for distraction while fleeing. The ninja would scatter the calthrops behind them and anyone unlucky enough to step on them would not likely continue with the pursuit. They could also be thrown, and dipped in poison like the shuriken.


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Hanbo

A bo 3 feet in length can be concealed as a cane. Can be used like a bokken. May also conceal things inside, like a sword blade or a chain.


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Kusari-gama



The Kusari-gama is a combination of a sickle (short scythe) and a long chain with a weight attached to the end of it. The sickle was used in a slashing or stabbing motion, as well as used to block and hook opponents weapons. By holding the chain portion of the weapon, the sickle could be swung around to get a greater reach with it.

The chain portion of the weapon was most often used for trapping an enemy or his weapon. Once tangled up with the chain, the ninja could finish him off with the sickle. This was a weapon the ninja invented out of farming tools they used.


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Kyoketshu-shogei

The Kyoketsu-shogei was a knife attached to one end of a long cord made of women's or horse hair, or sometimes chain. On the other end of the cord was a ring. The knife could be used in close quarters or swung around by holding on to the ring.