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Iaijutsu vs Fast Draw


Japanese discussion of the art of iaijutsu and its supposed “unbeatability” has led to some interesting comparisons of Japanese swordsmanship to other martial arts.

The original discussion centred on the faintly ridiculous issue of the “unbeatability of the Japanese sword when attacked by a unarmed opponent,” although this was later succinctly dismissed with the observation that nobody in their right mind would attack a man with a sword barehanded in any case.

The martial art at issue is “iaijutsu” or “battōjutsu,” a subdiscipline of kenjutsu concerned exclusively with drawing a sword and striking in a single motion from any position.


Luckily, 2ch is packed with martial arts experts well equipped to discuss this sort of issue.

Some are sceptical:

“A spear would have him.”

“Certainly, it’s hard to tell when he drew. But wouldn’t the guys with their swords already out still have the advantage?”

“This is not really a practical technique for actual combat. Don’t believe the stuff in Rurouni Kenshin.”

“In real combat there is no referee or floor with springs in it either.”

“Useless unless you are sat opposite someone on a tatami floor – what if you are sat across a table, western style?”

“In any case you wouldn’t bring a katana to a meeting.”

“Who would challenge someone with a katana barehanded anyway?”

“Fencing is faster!”

“However you look at it, these sort of things are just performing arts.”

Some are not so sceptical:

“What, seriously?”

“It’s so fast I couldn’t even see it!”

“I couldn’t even tell when he drew it the second time.”

“The Japanese sword is the most practical, western swords are heavy and unusable.” [see the previous discussion of this]

“Chinese techniques are full of unnecessary movements and are impractical as a result. In Japanese martial arts, the sword and soul are said to be one and stuff, but theirs are just about overdoing things.” [see the previous discussion of this]

“Can any weapon win against this?”

Unfortunately, somebody presented the video below:

Even this does not persuade adherents of the mystical cult of the katana however:

“Even if he got off a shot, the inertia of the draw would continue and he’d be cut down. If his arm were hacked off the sword would have the advantage too.”

More realistic observers are forced to admit the katana is in extreme difficulty:

“With a pistol the shooter will be out of range of the katana so the ‘sakki’ [the sense that someone is intent on killing] and stuff don’t matter.”

“They can draw and shoot in 200 milliseconds. A Japanese sword stands no chance.”

Fortunately for kenjutsu admirers, the legendary status of the katana is immune to mere bullets in a way actual practitioners are not.

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  • well sword is not usually used in battle, even in japan

    in the period of warring states they mainly uses spear and gun that is more effective

    sword by any means is served as only symbol of samurai status

    • Yes, though the argument is based on people with equal skill.

      .. thinking about that, there is no equal skill between different weapons.

      The best to be had, is still peace and harmony. I would believe true warriors would attest to that.

  • I’m in the 0.1 seconds range, but I’ll guarentee this… give me six shots, and you’d have 3 dead samaurai in 20feet in under 1 second.

    Drawing their swords, and i’ll put 2 bullet combos in their head-chest, leg-chest, arm-chest.

    I do this at the indoor gun range

    What I wouldn’t do to get in the 200 millisecond range.
    This man is, the “REAL DEAL” I’ve even seen it myself.

  • Gun vs Sword is a pointless comparison, as they are both different styles of combat, and one cannot exist without the other if one wants to be an efficient fighter.

    Guns are long-ranged weapons that are used to close the gap between the shooter and the target, which is great for quick termination of targets (ex. war-time, hunting). But when the gap is actually closed, guns have been proven to be faulty, and can easily be disarmed. However, swords help with that, as they are specifically for fighting close-ranged (why do you think soldiers carry knives with them as part of their standard arsenal?).

    • Soldiers carry knives, yes. Sword, hell no. Nobody’s saying blade has no part in the modern battlefield. But blade in sword form are definitly gone.

      Guns are good for mostly all but extremly close range. In which case, the short and quick knife would be ideal. Not the long and bulky sword. Katana included.

    • ‘swords help with that, as they are specifically for fighting close-ranged (why do you think soldiers carry knives with them’

      Nowadays a soldier might have more problems circumventing his restrictive rules of engagement in order to close with an enemy than in killing the enemy.

      From an earlier thread:
      ‘It takes years to master martial arts and form your body.

      It takes a mere fraction of that to obtain a gun.’

      “Mastery” is not required to benefit from training and discipline.

      Obtaining a gun and having no idea how to fire it under stress is worse than useless.

      The point is to be able to deliver an appropriate level of violence reliably. No matter what weapon you choose, you have to practice and prepare.

  • First of all, let me state that the most deadly weapon in the world is the human mind. It can conceive of very many ways to accomplish a goal, be it making money, winning a game, or killing people.

    The simple fact of the matter is that you cannot compare guns and katana, because (although they are both weapons) they are made for two different purposes.

    A katana is meant to be used by someone facing their (similarly-armed) opponent; the winner is the one with the most skill, the fastest reflexes, etc.

    But what if you are going up against several opponents? Or you are facing an opponent with superior skill? You will want to reduce their numbers before a hand-to-hand confrontation is necessary. In addition, they may have superior armor. A surprise attack is possible, but may not do enough damage. These realizations led to ranged weapons such as the spear, the arrow, and eventually, the gun.

    The gun is not made for hand-to-hand combat. It is not a skill/endurance based weapon like the katana. You do not need to face your opponent directly. For that reason, despite its ability to do greater damage, it is seen by some as a coward’s weapon.

    The true argument is not about which weapon is superior – it is about the type of battle you have to fight, and what you need to use to win that battle. Those decisions are made in the mind, which is where all weapons are created to begin with.


    • anyone who believes a gun is not a skill bases weapon has never really used one…..the hand gun is very difficult to use in close combat but less so than a sword …could a very skilled swords man defeat an unskilled pistol user ..more than likely …the difference is the amount of training that is required to become proficient with each of them…neither is a cowards weapon and anyone who says that has never been in combat ….equally proficient users of both weapons meeting in a standard combat arena the gun will win 99% of the time …that is why firearms are used in modern combat and swords are used in video games…

  • a slingshot and a couple of marvels can take down the katana.
    for the gunslinger i think a couple of extra cheese burgers and berrs, and he will drop dead before being able to draw his gun a again.

  • An strong blade or object can withstand a strike from a katana, thus, a strong blade/object is better than a katana?

    An .50 bullet will destroy most, if not all of the “strong blades/objects” mentioned above, thus, a .50 weapon is better than a strong blade/object?

    A well made katana can cut more than 4 .50 bullets shot from an Browning machinegun! thus a katana is better?

    [vicious cicle continued, and all trolls were happy for eternity]


  • Some years ago western fencers (foil and epee) were paired of with kendo competitors. Both types were top level within their category. I don’t recall the rules or scoring but the western fencers were faster and ‘won’ because they fence one-handed, and their movements are more direct and economical.

    My second observation regarding swords versus guns. How things turn out depends to some degree on your balls. There was a video on the net a few years ago in which a Philippino policeman was running away from a lunatic with a machete firing an automatic pistol without facing the assailant and aiming. He kept missing and was cut down.

    Regarding the effective distance of the katana versus the gun (21 feet?), remember that the gunman CAN step back when the swordsman starts his attack.

  • There’s a lot of myths about katana. It’s just a weapon. Every real fighter should be the one with his weapon, be it a katana, a sabre, a sniper rifle or any other, because his life is on stake.

    Demo is a demo – i’ve heard about light-alloy katanas for such demos (such swords are much lighter, but also unsuitable for a real fight). NEVER believe to what you see in a prepared demonstration.

    Real damask longswords are as awesome as good katanas (which always were very rare against tons of crappy ones)

  • I like the comment from the person who doesn’t understand guns too terribly well…

    If the gun fighter got a shot off the swordsman might still kill him in mid swing but it’s also just as likely that the swordsman would be knocked backwards.

    In spite of what movies told you to the contrary, being hit by a bullet is more than enough force to knock you down.

  • Cut of his arm the sword gets an advantage? seriously?

    If the swordsman gets a bullet shot thru his head, the gunslinger is at an advantage. Derp.

    Swords are more elegant, but I gotta admit the fat guy is pretty cool.

  • On Stan Lee’s Superhumans there was a Japanese guy who was able to draw and cut bullets. He did so twice.

    That being said, I do not believe iaido is better than fencing is better than kung fu is better than (insert combat style here). It all depends on the practitioner. You can teach a fat slob couch potato boxing, but he will not be as “good” as a fit professional. Someone who devotes their entire life to the style is always going to be better than the person taking a saturday class on the same style.

  • Every time weapon was developed, the battlefield tactic has to be re-written again and again. We all know the result that sword can’t win at long range. But in close combat, a fast draw sword would took your hand before you can reach the gun.
    Compare sword with gun is like compare gun with tactical nuke.

  • In my opinion Iai is pretty much the only thing that would make Japanese sword worth learning. A two-handed European sword drawn and a two-handed katana drawn only has so many options in what ways you can cut. And considering that katana is a fairly delicate weapon, it would seem to me that minimizing combat would be a good way to go about it.

    And what better way then training to draw that weapon before another swordsman can draw there’s? Worry less about mythical killing power, chop a guys hand off at the wrist and you’ve won.

    Iai isn’t combat, Iai is pushing “A” at the right time in the middle of a cutscene.

    Drawing a katana compared to drawing any other sword…well that all comes down to the practitioner. Actually that’s basically all it ever comes down to, melee vs melee. Weapons don’t make someone good at fighting, someone is good at fighting and knows how to show that with a weapon.

    Though frankly I don’t think your average European swordsman could out draw your average Iaidoka. Considering where the focus lies, and the curve does really helps with the drawing. I’d say there’s an advantage over straight swords in the draw. But that added mechanic isn’t isolated to katanas.

    Guns are a different class in general. Quick draw with a gun is obviously much faster for reasons that should be obvious. Also range? There shouldn’t even be a debate.

    On a side note though, that gold revolver is fucking sick hah.

  • Most everyone here is forgetting one major thing. Trick shooting is not real combat, just as the sword draw in practice is not combat, until someone is put in the real situation there is no telling what would happen. Also don’t forget that moment plays a part for both weapons the shooter had 2 shots off while the sword may still continue in it’s intended path.

    Either way non of them is in a position to have the stress of death coming at them. So say what you will…

    • Precisely. Like how they all like to ridicule chinese martial art but bottom line, unless it’s being put under real live and death situation, it’s hard to judge. Now that I think about it? Why quick draw in the first place? He could have his gun out and fire anyway.

  • It’s really impressive how the gunshot sounds of both shots sound mixed as one to the unaided ear!
    In a real fight, though, you have alot of stuff to consider, for example the weigh and therefore response time of both weopens, as well as the range factors. These things can prove crucial, but in the end, a gun would tend to have the supremacy over a sword. Now if the blade were lighter and easier to manipulate, and the range wasn’t an issue, i.e. a knifed dude against an armed guy at less than 4 meters apart, then that would be a whole different story.

    • Then again, the whole point of using a gun is to attack from a safe distance.

      The fatso can shoot two targets in 1/5 of a second from a distance no katana can reach, unless you throw them away(bad for you since that would be easier to dodge, and it means losing your weapon).

      I don’t even like that guy because he’s cocky, but even when accounting stopping power(because sometimes people can still charge forward even when shot), I have to admit that he’s fast enough to shoot your weapon off your hand AND shoot your head at almost the same time.

    • You’re telling me that a weak man can fire even a .45 without throwing his arms off-balance due to recoil? Let alone HITTING the target?

      Guns aren’t magical weapons. They require every bit of training to use, just like all weapons. Until you perfected your recoil control, judgement of MoA and how straight can you aim it(among the lot other factors), shut the fuck up and get the fuck out.

      • Despite of what you might believe. No, Katanas can’t cut people in half.

        Before you start raging about how they did test Katanas on people and they were known to cut all the way though. The truth is that when they did those test, they added an elongated handle to it which gave it a lot more leverage. So yes, the blade is capable of cutting through bodies, but not when it’s in sword form. It is the same case for most of the European swords too.

        • First I’ve ever heard of that “elongated handle”

          Not that people are easy to cut through, there’s a lot of crap from end to end. Though frankly if you just cut into it in general it’d fuck someone up.

          It’s how you win, never stop cutting.

  • Note that Japanese weren’t too allergic to firearms. Just look at how fast muskets were fielded by them in the civil war period! By then, some tacticians already foresaw that the day of massive melee fighting in war is coming to a close.

  • Now now. This sort of stuff will always be subject of controversy. The video shown could have used cheap katana. Even those in mystbuster looks like it was not made entirely by genuine craftman (made in USA maybe?). And frankly, who would risk using actual quality, more expensive katana to the test? Broad sword IMO is more of brute strength whereas katana speed and agility and you don’t need that much strength to swing it. And regardless how you train your ab to hard steel, katana will still slice you up. Unfortunately, I gotta say the fat dude got the upper hand (unless he ran out of bullets and too slow enough to avoid close melee)

        • “Then please tell me how the fuck would you kill a foe wearing full plate armor with a fucking katana?”

          Not with a fucking katana for fuck sake, but with a fucking mace, the one that says “BADASS MUTHAFUCKA” on it…

        • 14:05 20/12/2010 Anon, most ‘heavy’ broadswords are barely more 4 pounds AT MOST. Almost all historical weaponry used on the field were about 2.5 pounds to 3.5 pounds.

          The heaviness of broadswords are so grossly overstated, it’s ridiculous. Also, warriors and barbarians and professional soldiers some 3000 years ago were practicing fast sword swipes. That is eons before Japan was out of its stone ages.

        • Based on the comment……how the hell this become a “westerner wearing armor with western sword” vs “Samurai in robe with katana”? Is it about sword, weapons or armor or both? Yes I know, Jedi Light Saber wins all but lets stick to the point. Katana vs broadsword (not rapier, halberd etc). And why brute strength? As you all know, most old westerners used to wear armor, chainmail whereas most Japanese just robe. Why would anyone design a sword which no matter how sharp won’t cut through steel armor? Effective weapon would be something more blunt like a club or mace. And the broadsword ain’t exactly designed to be sharp but more robust and heavy so that it won’t break when it clashes with another weapon. Katana on the other hand depend more on speed of the stroke, thus more fragile to reduce weight and it’s more about cutting flesh than armor. If anyone wish to compare something else, yes perhaps rapier is a better choice than katana. But for me, I rather have semi automated gun.

        • Even polearms like halberds are wielded with a lot of finesse. You only use brute force if you’re in a position in which you can definitely deliver a killing or at least incapacitating blow, otherwise you’d just be tiring yourself for no reason.

        • The guy is just an ill informed weaboo. Swords by nature can not be turned into a brute force weapon simply because it doesn’t have the same leverage as polearms. Some western sword might look big, but they’re always perfectly balanced so the user can execute precise slashes and thrusts. And that’s how they get through armor with swords, they go between the gaps. And if you’re not skilled enough to do that, then you use a brute strength polearm like a hauberd, but never a sword.

        • Western swords are all designed to be balanced, katanas aren’t. So this means that technically, the katana is the SLOWER sword. European swords were very quick and extremely good for extremely precise movements, such as thrusting in the gaps of armor, something which is impossible with any japanese sword.

  • There were reasons why such techniques were invented back in the day when swords were at their prime and guns were yet to see daylight. Put the perspective in today’s nature of warfare, arguing on sword vs. gun is akin to arguing on ballista or trebuchet vs. 155 mm self-propelled howitzer — something just doesn’t fit there! If one want to argue over a technique, put it on its proper perspective. Otherwise, it’s a debate not worth debating or even laughing at.

    • Swords were never in their prime. Real melee warfare has always been primarily the domain of spear or halberd-type weapons, with some kind of mace-type weapon if your opponent wore heavy armor. This is reflected nearly universally in any ancient army. Swords were mostly used in environments in which more effective weapons became impractical, ie indoors. This is why they have tremendous ceremonial significance in many societies, they were the weapon of last resort when the enemy is at your doorstep or the weapon of victory as you invaded the castle and slew the king.

      • Swords had many uses throughout european history. The Roman legionaries relied on shortswords, the Spanish rodeleros of the renaissance used them as their primary weapon, there’s the huge 2 handed great swords were used to cut through pike walls, and of course they were used by cavalry after they charged, (admittedly among other weapons).
        They kept their significance as battlefield weapons even in Napoleonic times, when they were used mostly by cavalry.

        Swords were very viable battlefield weapons. Remember, most people didn’t wear plate. Hell, it wasn’t invented until the late middle ages, and european swords could thruset through most chainmail (and japanese ones can’t, cause they’re useless for thrusting)

  • Katanas were never good weapons. Other countries were mass producing blades that were vastly superior in terms of craftsmanship and materials before and during the time of the katana. The only reason it was useful at all was because almost no one had a good set of armor to stop it. Quality steel, gotten from abroad, was so incredibly rare that the elite few who had it were pretty much invincible next to the common unarmored peasant. Katanas would break in half hitting any of these armors of the time.

    To say nothing of the fact that swords are bad weapons in the first place for warfare. In Japan, the Yari or Naginata were much better weapons in any open environment. The only place for a sword is inside a building or other close quarters, which is why they are used mostly as ceremonial weapons not only in Japan but world wide.

    • You don’t see today’s JGSDF soldiers and officers carrying swords, do you? The school of sword fighting today exists a bit more like an art of work out and to train discipline and physique, not necessarily to be practiced in real-life situation. Although, having such knowledge, paired with substitute of a sword (crowbar, baseball bat, steel pipe of sufficient length) at hand can make one a little bit more dangerous.

      And Japanese isn’t the only one who keeps their sword fighting school. Europe too. Look at fencing… oh, wait, by your logic, Europeans don’t seem to heed the same lesson about swords and firearms.

    • Meh. Let them try and fast draw a sword. We can just blow them up and shoot them in the head from the other side of the country.

      There’s a reason no developed country’s military uses sword, people.

      Fucking Japanaphiles.

  • PonySlaystation says:

    our fist once was replced by melee weapons and just like swords/blades, our conventional guns one day will not be such a wide use weapon anymore once a more effective killing weapon is discovered…

    we just keep creating weapons that are more easy to use and less actual techniques is required from the users themselves…and fights/battles have lesser and lesser meaning.

    Fighter pilots these days no longer have to dogfight as now they got air to air missiles that does their work for them
    bomber crafts pilots no longer need to feel fear now that they have guided bombs and wide range radars that can hit targets far enough without the pilot looking at the actual target.
    Soldiers’ guns are so user friendly these days that they almost control the recoils for them and feels so comfitable on the battlefield.
    Sharpshooters got sniper scope/rifles that can hit so far range, enemies doesnt even feel like human to them when shot.
    Protections are so good these days that soldiers/pilots these days dont have to worry even getting hit.
    Wars/battles can sometime be end by just bombings/artillery without any soldiers even setting foot.

    We are in the age that courage and bravery are no longer needed on battlefield but technologies and intelligents are. Been fair and admirable wouldnt do a thing on our battlefield but foul tactics and coward methods will do the job right.
    We cry for few soldiers died today but have forgotten all those thousands of soldiers that died in the prevoius war.
    War/battle can be fought and end so easily that they no longer have meanings.
    Because of technologies and intelligence, we humans have become much weaker and in the future war/battle might no longer need us to strain a single muscle to kill…

  • depends on the conditions, whoever decides to attack first will win and if its on long range (outside the range of katana) the gun will obviously win, otherwise… both of them will die at the same time, … and dont start talking about deflecting/cutting bullet with the katana… no human is fast enough even to dodge them bullet or even react to the shot

  • LOL Are you serious? How the fuck is that “iaijutsu”/“battōjutsu” demonstration impressive? First of all it’s not even remotely fast… The speed was comparable to fucking Tai Chi excercises! This looked like some demo of the ceremony of iaijutsu’s practice (the demo of proper posture, method of sitting, etc. – think of tea serving ceremony).I’m not saying that iaijutsu is always this fucking slow, but this was definitely not fast.

    What was fucking fast was the fat old fart from Texas. They had to slow down the camera to see his hand movements, and it really looked like he shot two balloons with one shot! He had the least amount of movement and was twitchy fast, not to mention ridiculously accurate. It doesn’t look that impressive because Hollywood has made it out to be the standard but that kind of ridiculous accuracy usually can’t be achieved… Shooting a fucking coin in the air, or a card in half multiple time is insane. That samurai midget would be swiss cheese before he even touched his sword…

  • when I saw ‘The original discussion centred on the faintly ridiculous issue of the “unbeatability of the Japanese sword when attacked by a unarmed opponent,”’

    I quickly thought
    “although this was later succinctly dismissed with the observation that nobody in their right mind would attack a man with a sword barehanded in any case”

  • You know guys, there was a discussion similar to this centuries ago.

    Records show that one day, Saradin and Richard Lionheart held a meeting in order to prove their superiority to each other. To show how great their swords were, Saradin grabbed a cuffin and cleaved it in two perfect halves with his blade.

    Then, Richard told one of his soldiers to give him his hammer (Remember, it was steel from the hilt to the head), he put it on a table, drew his sword and cut it’s head and broke the table.

    The point: each weapon has its own specialization. It’s obvious, very obvious that the structure of a katana doesn’t allow clashing aganist other longsword. In fact, western swordsmen never crossed their swords because they’d eventually break and it was seen as a sign of weakness.

    Katanas are swords for exclusively cutting, and they are damn efficient at that, apart from being lighter. Longswords are more balanced, yet that’s their main weakness aganist other type of blades, along with their weight.

  • “although this was later succinctly dismissed with the observation that nobody in their right mind would attack a man with a sword barehanded in any case.”

    Remember Shigurui? Where a barehanded swordfighter defeated some wannabes with swords saying something like “I don’t need a sword for pussies like yourself”. Impressive scene. Great anime altogether.

  • Hey guys look! my enemy in a tight skirt is sitting on the floor! lets wait for him to pull his sword halfway out his sheaf… now lets wait another 2.7seconds for him to pull it out and chop me VERY QUICKLY. oh look i got chopped in 2. that sucks.


    Let’s just compare guns to swords in general:
    1. long range: guns (snipers to be exact) win (unless you can use a sword as a “throwing weapon”
    2. med range: guns (automatics) win
    3. short range: even (swords might have different reaches, but none normally more than 2x the length of an arm) (any gun at short range is lethal)
    4. point blank: swords and any other melee/shortblade weapon (It’s faster to stab/slice/slash than to aim and shoot)

    But, both will ALWAYS be cool (though, I await the arrival of mass produced, energy based weapons (both ranged and melee)

    • Why do you believe that it’s faster to cut someone than it is to shoot them at point-blank range? At that range, you do have to aim carefully, you just pull the trigger with the gun in his general direction – the chances of not hitting are pretty slim if you’ve ever used a gun before.

  • There are only a few countries that allow you to carry guns or swords on a street. This is why normal people still learn martial arts and some defence courses (like for women or other “crap” – IMO), but I think that the best weapon nowadays is… metal baseball bat. It FTW! You can carry it in something like a tube for drawings, and then when you meet some bad martial artists, bam!, between the eyes and in crotch. This is the weapon for “normal” people nowdays. Tested in Germany, UK, Poland and in other places, mainly by the fotball’s hooligans, and I must say… Damn it’s effective!

    • Three excellent comments:

      James re strategy: ‘The true argument is not about which weapon is superior – it is about the type of battle you have to fight, and what you need to use to win that battle. Those decisions are made in the mind’

      Aaron re strategy: ‘If you ever find yourself in a “fair fight,” you just fucked up. Lesson one from my Sifu at age 12.’

      jamesownsall re doctrine: ‘However, today’s warfare demands that a soldier knows his guns too. Same with explosives and assault vehicles.

      All weapons have advantages and weaknesses. You can worship one or two, but you’re a fool if you sideline ANY of them.’

      Notice the difference between doctrine and strategy. Jamesownsall is assuming that we are preparing state-sponsored warfighters.

      The jihadis and mujaheddin fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan (and perhaps in Pakistan) are not preparing assault vehicles. They are preparing IEDs and human intelligence networks. Most of the Americans are prepared for being passengers in assault vehicles and staying out of the way of explosives, but cannot prepare their own IEDs.

      Meanwhile, spies still kill people with improvised weapons and everyday objects.

      On this topic, a good comment from Anon:
      ‘best weapon nowadays is… metal baseball bat. It FTW! You can carry it in something like a tube for drawings, and then when you meet some bad martial artists, bam!, between the eyes and in crotch. This is the weapon for “normal” people nowdays.’

      Indeed. There are many similar weapons which are vastly more practical than a noisy, expensive gun.

  • I watched an interesting comparison of Katana and European swords some time ago.

    Katana is a form of light sword, aimed at cutting, which is why it’s so sharp and light. It can be drawn fast and is efficient against light armor (leather) that was used in it’s prime time around Japan.

    It would be pretty useless in plate armor combat though and also fail against a stiletto sneak attack, throwing knives/starts or lance.

    That said, for the purpose it was built, it was very well crafted and optimized, so someone wielding it with training can be a big threat, especially in close / mid-range combat.

    For obvious reasons, it is quite useless in modern open ground combat, unless you aim to star on one of those stupid things to do shows.

    • For anyone who would be crazy enough to attack an opponent in plate armor but insist on a Japanese weapon, I would suggest the tetsubo, the Japanese equivalent of a morning star or godendag… Same reason why European soldiers put away their expensive swords and turned to maces and warhammers for close fighting.

    • That’s it. I’m sick of all this “Masterwork Bastard Sword” bullshit that’s going on in the d20 system right now. Katanas deserve much better than that. Much, much better than that.

      I should know what I’m talking about. I myself commissioned a genuine katana in Japan for 2,400,000 Yen (that’s about $20,000) and have been practicing with it for almost 2 years now. I can even cut slabs of solid steel with my katana.

      Japanese smiths spend years working on a single katana and fold it up to a million times to produce the finest blades known to mankind.

      Katanas are thrice as sharp as European swords and thrice as hard for that matter too. Anything a longsword can cut through, a katana can cut through better. I’m pretty sure a katana could easily bisect a knight wearing full plate with a simple vertical slash.

      Ever wonder why medieval Europe never bothered conquering Japan? That’s right, they were too scared to fight the disciplined Samurai and their katanas of destruction. Even in World War II, American soldiers targeted the men with the katanas first because their killing power was feared and respected.

      So what am I saying? Katanas are simply the best sword that the world has ever seen, and thus, require better stats in the d20 system. Here is the stat block I propose for Katanas:

      (One-Handed Exotic Weapon)
      1d12 Damage
      19-20 x4 Crit
      +2 to hit and damage
      Counts as Masterwork

      (Two-Handed Exotic Weapon)
      2d10 Damage
      17-20 x4 Crit
      +5 to hit and damage
      Counts as Masterwork

      Now that seems a lot more representative of the cutting power of Katanas in real life, don’t you think?

      tl;dr = Katanas need to do more damage in d20, see my new stat block.

  • As a former resident of /K/, I’ll take a swing at this.

    The problem here is practicality VS situation and skill levels.
    Guns are easy to conceal and have a range. Knowing this I wouldn’t close distances with someone carrying a sword. I also wouldn’t wait to begin drawing my weapon after they’ve put a hand on their scabbard.
    The last unfortunate fact is that more people are proficient in the use of guns than ever were with swords. While there are some gunmen who are masters of the art, there are also many laymen who can quickly put lead on target.
    Unless the swordsman gets a drop somehow, its not a real contest who will win.

    Unarmed VS sword is a trickier matter. Swords work as good now as they ever did against unarmed opponents.
    You don’t have range in your favor, so if you want to take a swordsman on then you’d need to get the drop on him. Get within twenty feet and bum rush the dude before he can get both hands on his blade (aka: the Tueller drill).
    Otherwise you wouldn’t stand much of a chance without body armor and luck.

  • iaido and kendo are two different art though both concerned in katana. iaido is the art of drawing and returning the katana from its case. Kendo is whatever happens between drawing ang returning, so if iaido fails there’s always kendo. besides within 21 feet, a sword and/or knife has a chance against a gun. 21 feet is the maximum distance for a non-projectile defender to attack before the gun-slinger can draw, point, and shoot its weapon. well beyond 21 feet there are always other tactics that can be used.

    • Where are you getting this 21 feet measurement?
      In any case, it totally depends on the type of gun you’re using. A full auto would have absolutely no trouble taking someone out within 21 feet. A semi-auto assault rifle or a pistol could still pull it off. Any trained soldier / gun enthusiast has experience drawing, aiming, and shooting.
      The only instance I could think of where you’d be at a disadvantage with a gun is if it’s bolt action and you miss the first shot.

  • I had the luck to attend several months at the capital area budokai “” where you can practice Nakamura Ryu Battodo and Toyama Ryu Iaido among other arts. I was surprised when I studied the art to find it was relatively new, created around world war 2, and it had a distinct function it was intended for in a somewhat modern battlefield, granted that was mostly as a last ditch fallback & intimidation role, but still in any case a role.

    • How about a guy who does iaido with a gun that shoots katanas? When he draws his assault rifle, like five katanas shoot out. When he does the killing strike, five more shoot out. And instead of ejecting casings, the gun ejects used scabbards.

  • Suddenly M82A3 shooting THROUGH the Katana, bullet-proof-vest wearing katana weilder, and his family trying to hide behind a wall….even the poor dog was killed who was on vacation in Italy D: true story.

    Oh yeah and the average katana back in the time was shit because japans iron ore quality is below the quality the europeans had access to in the middle ages for like everything from sword to armor to doorknob or goddamn spoon…. New katana however are pretty good though useless because yeah …firearms.

  • I still prefer Katanas over Guns no matter what. Like what motaku96 said if there’s a zombie apocalypse swords are the best choice. If someone were to have very keen eyesight and could see the bullet that person would be the closet thing to a god in my opinion, it’d be like Black Lagoon and the Bullet vs Katana demonstration.

    • If there’s zombies, I’d rather have a gun with a bayonet for shooting and throat/head stabbing, or a spear for long range. Katana on Zombies mean splatter, and infectious blood is always a bad thing to have.

      Even a Naginata is better than Katana in a situation like that.

    • jamesownsall says:

      Only for the immune ones though.

      Blood splatters from cut wounds will hit you, thus infecting you too. Also, the fat kid in High School of the Dead was right: katana blades can become dull, and in our boring real world, there is no Saeko.

  • The problem with this argument is that only those who fight with “honour” (aka, Japanese martial arts) would be victim to this attack.
    Any other form of warfare would be more effective as it would be “dishonourable” thus fighting in what could be said as “unfairly”.

  • Katana has seem it’s days. But gotta admit the 2nd draw was pretty impressive. Though technically a rapier can be drawn just as fast if not faster. Due to them being lighter and are actually balanced for one hand use. Only that I’ve never heard of any rapier school that actually taught any techniques on quick draws.

    • You obviously don’t know shit bout fencing.

      A slashing “rapier” is called a “sable”. Don’t matter much if you can draw your stick fast if you can’t slash with it.

      The whole thing is what “battojutsu” is instant kill. A rapier is a bit too thin for that.

      The whole thing is utterly silly….

        • Rapier maybe fastest way to strike an (unarmored) opponent (with a blade). The problem is that the narrow blade makes a quick kill unlikely. This was actually the point, since duels (the origin of most narrowblade fencing techniques) were typically to first blood, not to the death – because killing someone was still considered murder, duel or not.

          As a killing weapon in combat, rapier isn’t very good because while light and fast, it is hard for it to deliver an incapacitating strike. Basically need to strike the weapon hand, throat, or eye socket, all small targets. So the problem in rapier is that you may inflict a serious wound on an opponent, but that doesn’t stop him from doing the same thing to you. Japanese swords and technique (and Western larger swords) were originally designed with the aim of at least disabling the opponent completely with a successful hit.

          (College fencer – its a sport, and we even used to jokingly refer to it as ‘tag with fishing rods’, its not training for any kind of mortal combat.)

        • A thrusting sword like a rapier is the fastest way to kill a single opponent, the effective range and speed are greater than slashing swords.

          That’s why rapiers were designed for one-on-one duels, while sabres were meant for cavalry and battlefield combat.

  • jamesownsall says:

    Japanese swords are cool, no doubt.

    However, today’s warfare demands that a soldier knows his guns too. Same with explosives and assault vehicles.

    All weapons have advantages and weaknesses. You can worship one or two, but you’re a fool if you sideline ANY of them.

    • JamesownsAll makes some excellent points. My long-winded reply seems to be caught in the software, never to be found again.

      TLDR-there is strategy, and then there is doctrine. Never allowing a fair fight is strategy, carrying a metal club (or midget bat) is doctrine.

    • “The Japanese sword is the most practical, western swords are heavy and unusable.”

      omg! They have NO IDEA!
      Broadswords are great for parrying.
      Sabres are great for slashing and stabbing.
      Katanas are great for bending and shattering itself.

      If I had to fight against someone using katana I would use sabre of gladius.

      Btw imagine blocking katana with iron shield ^^

      • Kitsune9Tails says:

        There was a MythBusters about this. Katana vs. various western swords. Katana did not fare well due to its thin cross-section. So, as long as you don’t have to block or parry an overhead slash from a western sword, you’re prolly okay. Which I guess is the point of kenjutsu anyway (quick movements and agility, not strength and strike/counter-strike).

        But still, 2ch has gone a little overboard with their katana-love.

        • A katana isn’t built for blocking. Its design while providing a great cutting blade, means its only good for one thing: cutting. One Katana colliding into another, edge to edge, is going to irrepairably damage the sword. Likewise trying to use the flat of the blade to block is impractical, as it puts the wrist in a weak position. Also the design of the hilt itself doesn’t allow a strong grip to facilitate this blocking.

          Iaijutsu is a wonderful discipline if you consider it’s origins. Japan is the only nation with a formal way of sitting(Seiza), which is where a number of Iaijutsu techniques stem from. If one were to take Iaijutsu for what it is: a way to defend yourself when you and potential enemies are sitting in Seiza, it works. However taking it for what it is also reveals it as a specialized method: When you remove it from the setting it is specialized in, you remove it’s efficacy.

          Therein lies the major problem with the Katana and it’s disciplines, which is largely the result of Japan’s history. For countless years Japan was a civil war, techniques and disciplines were created to counter other Japanese techniques and disciplines. While it may be bad writing the line serves as a summary for this section as well: Remove the Setting, Remove the Efficacy.

          /end college dissertation.

    • But the progression of technologies as the time passes, means some weapons will indeed get phased out of battlefield completely. Katana, along with the rest of swords, being one of those.

      Even if we disregard the obvious efficiency of the firearm technologies. Quick drawing with katana might have been effective at a time and place when people deemed hanging out with a katana by your waist as totally normal things. These days no matter how fast you can draw your katana, as soon as they see you wearing the big stick they’d know you’re up to no good. You’d have better luck with a 5 dollar knife instead.

      • I have to agree over this. At present, research is being done in downsizing precision weapons into hand-held weapons. For example,the XM-25 Assault weapon which is a computerized grenade launcher. If more of this type of weapons are developed, expect the traditional machine gun (like the M60 machine gun and M2 machine gun for example) to be phase out.

      • jamesownsall says:

        Of course, man. I don’t think the JSDF themselves would carry a katana in a heated battle, CQC or not.

        I’m just laughing at the kids who assume katana being superior just because they look cool. It’s long, which makes it hard to conceal. A professional soldier will have better luck with a bayonet attached to his gun in case an enemy went samurai in close quarters.

        For sheer cool points though, I prefer a .45 JSP or JHP. Mushrooms as it penetrates your tissues, inflicting greater -somewhat sadistic- injuries, and ideal for avoiding your shot from going through your target into a hostage or comrade.

    • to all the 2ch folk that think katana are better then guns:
      swords are better for making cool samurai movies. swords are better for having duels. swords have the advantage of never having to be reloaded or jamming in battle. swords cost less to practice with. they are quieter for sneak attacks. finally, they can be enchanted to do extra damage.

      but on the flip side of that argument: guns make cool car chase scenes in movies. they resolve duels faster. although a gun has to be reloaded, it takes a few seconds. a sword has to be sharpened and it takes hours to do it right(reforging)but a gun never loses it’s edge. a sword never jams, but most handguns never jam even after firing 1000+ rounds before being cleaned properly. a sword will break before cleaving through 1000+ people with armor. a gun costs more to practice with no matter how you look at it, but if battle is your way of life, that should not be an issue. swords are quieter, but you could always buy a silencer. finally, even if swords could be enchanted to do more damage, a gun can swap out to hollow points and do more damage too.

      in the modern world, modern weapons are used. that is why when america, germany, russia, britain, and even saudi arabia go to war, they don’t tote around a chest full of swords to take out the incoming attack. they uses guns and explosives. if you need a weapon to protect your family, buy a gun, not a sword.

      i have an XD45 and a korean katana. as a boy i would play fantasy, and creep around the house with the katana planning how to deal with intruders, but as a man i got a firearm, because it’s logical.

      • Katana is Limited in wide space, have 1 man with knife ambush the guy with katana in closed space, the sword long posture will have disadvantage in turning.

        Ambush the guy with katana in crowded place, and the sword will have disadvantage to knife.

        In long range combat, The Gun wielder will always gunned down the katana guy first, even if the wielder can acuratly cut the flying bullet. if the Bullet is Armour piercing round the sword will break, say the shooter use barret Anti material Rifle /lol

        The katana like all muscle powered weapon, depend on wielder strengh. sure some karate guy can karate chop bull with bare hand. but ordinary guy can also tackle bull with a gun.
        and There is a limitation of material strengh, Even if the wielder as strong as hercules, The sword is still made of steel.
        therefore they still can break

        and for the light saber, laser gun traveling in speed of light. it take less than 1 second from the time you pull the triger, to your beam land on Moon soil

        If you see the oponent was puling the triger, than the laser beam has already cut you through.

        The fastest railgun now can travel the object at Mach 7, if a Nendroid Saber traveling at that speed. the energy is enough to cut through a Tank, maybe even 2 or 100 Chinese Motorcycle

        so Misaka makoto, should have greater Destruction power than on the anime

    • A funny story about the scene in Indiana Jones, Ford had food poisoning the day before the scene was to be recorded and couldnt move around as much as the scene really required so he improvised, resulting in the scene we all know today.

  • the 1st pic reminded me of tenjou tenge or ga-rei? 😀

    i always have a thing for katana’s. they’re just badass. nothing beats slicing things into pieces. i wish there was a real yamato(devil may cry) so that we can deflect bullets all day 🙂

    or a beam katana(no more heroes) it will splatter gallons of blood 😀

  • The Japs don’t realize just how overhyped all their katanas and naginatas and whatnots are. The european weapons and armor of the time were superior, their techniques were at least equal (if not better because they take advantage of superior equipment), and even the whole blade folding thing the japs do is nothing special. In fact, the celts were using it at least as far back as 500BC, and dark age pattern welding is MORE elaborate than the japanese folding. That’s right, europeans were already the better weaponsmiths during what’s seen as their worst era.
    The japanese should just shut up about their stupid little overhyped swords already.

  • the katana is a piece of junk that why the Europeans didn’t even need to invade japan to exploit them they just pointed their guns at the Japanese and the Japanese surrendered.

    Also Japan lost all of its territory in WW2.

    Japan as a military power is weaker than Poland.

    • jamesownsall says:

      “…they just pointed their guns at the Japanese and the Japanese surrendered.”


      Though some will argue with you that the Japanese were already taking heavy losses before someone thought of nuking them. Still, it wasn’t just an ‘aim and surrender’ ordeal. They fought hard, used guns themselves, and committed every dirty trick in the book like every other country fighting in that war.

      Actually, if Americans hadn’t deployed nukes, more lives will be lost if they decided to invade the whole island, because at the time, it seems the Japanese were all not thinking of going down without a fight, EVEN THE CIVILIANS, thus causing heaps more casualties on both sides.

        • The extraordinary honor and nobility shown by the Japanese military and the Japanese nation in the World War II period is a matter of historical record.

          Japan did not sneakily attack Pearl Harbor but in fact sent a polite formal invitation to do battle 2 weeks earlier. When the US failed to RSVP the Japanese had no choice but bomb the shit out of Pearl Harbor to save face.

          A number of Asian countries will testify to Japan’s extraordinary honor prior to and during WW II, such as China, Korea, and the Philippines. Hang on, I’m going to ask them right now.

          Oops, my bad. They all say Japan sucked. Haa Haa, I’m so embarrassed.

      • From my understanding, a main reason the Japanese surrendered (but one that is conveniently left out of American text books) is that the Russians had routed their forces on the Asian mainland and were prepared to invade one of the main islands with a massive army. Like German troops during the last days of the war in Europe, I guess the Japanese emperor figured they’d have a better time of it if they surrendered to the Americans rather than Red Russia. Obviously the atomic bombs were a big part, but the whole ‘AMERICA FUCK YEA’ is a tad overblown in that part of history.