The differences between a katana and a ïaito.
Shinken, katana, boken, ïaito, ... so many words that seem to describe the same thing. However, even if the neophyte will see only Japanese swords, there are many important differences between the objects characterized by these names.
The katana is THE Japanese sword. It is composed of a curved blade of more than 61 cm and it is sharp. Katana is therefore a generic word which means saber.
Their use was exclusive to the samurai; hence, they also became known as samurai swords. Although in reality they fall under the category of the saber.
To achieve the degree of precision required for the construction of the Katana, it took years of evolution and innovation in Asian handgun designs.
Shinken means '' living blade '' it is the cutting katana. It is forged using a particular method specific to Japanese blades. Its manufacture responds as much to a spiritual as a technical process.The shinken blade must meet 2 antagonistic criteria: present a very resistant edge, and therefore excessively hard, while keeping a blade flexible enough not to break. To achieve a blade with these characteristics, blacksmiths developed a complex process. The quality of the steel used for the manufacture of a katana is decisive in relation to the use that one wants to make of it. Real katanas are hand forged from either carbon steel, bent steel or tamahagane steel which is the ultimate in a 'shinken'
The characteristics of a shinken are therefore: tamahagane steel, forging, bending, composite steel, selective hardening.
An ïaito, is a Japanese training weapon, which imitates the katana and allows the study of iaido and iaijutsu. They are sometimes called mogito (imitation of a sword) when they are made of aluminum alloy.
Most ïto, are made of an alloy of aluminum and zinc called Zycral, of lower density than the steel of the katana, it tries to reproduce the same balance. They are not sharpened and can be used for study and training with less danger. They are not suitable for contact or cutting. Some ïaito, are forged (carbon steel), they are in fact Shinken whose thread (the edge) has been broken, they allow the same balance as a katana, on the kissaki, without being dangerous in a dojo; it is very difficult to sharpen them. We also name ïaito, (ïaï saber) in Japan, any saber (even steel and cutting) intended for the practice of ïaito, and often less expensive (basic polishing) than a collector's sword. The correspondence between the length and the weight of the saber, and the size and the strength of the practitioner is very important, in particular to carry out actions of precision without being injured (for example a noto). To facilitate the handling of the weapon, the balance of the ïaito, is on the tsuba (guard) instead of being on the kissaki (point).
The Bokken or boken
The boken is a wooden katana used for training. Formerly, the boken was also used in real combat and was very deadly! Its total length is 105 cm, which may vary depending on the school.
In general, the center of gravity should be in the first third of the bokuto, which can also vary between schools.Some martial arts like aikido, aikibudo, ken-jutsu can use boken without curvature and more heavy.
It should be shaped from a hardwood (hard non-resinous) such as red or white oak (Akagashi and Shirakashi), evergreen oak, Holme oak, medlar (Biwa), ebony (Kokutan) or Sunuke.