Katana is the most famous weapon used in the warfare history of Japan. Katana is a curved sword worn with a companion sword with broader blade known as Wakizashi. As the Katana sword is large and Wakizashi is small in size, they are commonly referred as Daisho Swords. Swords were made with a hard metal to keep the edges intact, but will be brittle and prone to breaking when forcefully used in war against enemies on foot and mounted horses.
Some of the smiths made the core of the sword with soft metal to prevent it from breaking and covered the core with a thick layer of harder metals. In the ancient warfare, Samurais used a variety of pole arms in which the bladed weapons are attached to long poles. These pole arms were used in addition to bows and arrows and one of the pole arm called Naginata having a sharp blade would keep the attacker at bay or help in making the first attack before the enemy attacks with a sword.
When looking at the Japanese history during the period of Hein Era (794-1184), one could notice the beginning of the method of forging a sword with hard outer surface and soft core during that period. The Era was known as Tachi and it became customary to sign the blades. The Kamakura Era (1184-1333) witnessed the gathering of sword smiths from all over the country and the most famous of them was Masmune, whose sword was the newly founded power of Samurais and beginning of the rule of the samurai class.
In the Nanpokucho Era (1334- 1393) with the continuing wars between clans, raised the need for swords. Foot soldiers rose in importance during the period and swords for delivering devastating sweeps when used with both hands were created. During the years (1394-1595), three types of swords were used in the early, mid and a Late Muromachi Era.
The Edo era (1596-1867) witnessed refinement of the swords with the availability of the raw materials and mutual exchange of skills and experience among the sword smiths. The sixteenth and seventeenth century Katana were created from iron and sand drawn from river beds by creating a mass of raw iron that was beaten and stretched to produce a billet of steel out of which the sword blade would be hammered.
The Katana sword blade with a composite construction when quenched, coating of clay of varying thickness allowed the body to absorb the shock of the impact. A skilled swordsman with his killing stroke direct from his scabbard in one devastating swoop could deliver a death. Legendary tales talk about a samurai who struck his victim so quickly that the man walked few paces and fell into two pieces. Such was the power of the sword and when used by the samurai it added advantage to their skills.
With an overall view of the swords used in the Japanese warfare, it can be said that Katana sword has revolutionized the Japanese warfare. The evolution of swords in Japanese warfare history took a longer time and the manufacture and its usage in wars and its influence on the success in wars were enormous. But particularly talking about the usage of Katana swords in warfare, it becomes difficult to find out whether it has brought changes in the warfare, except with the introduction of swords with curved blades.
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