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Old 6th April 2012, 10:54 PM   #1
fearn
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Default katana-sized kabutowari???

John Evans' book Kurikara: The Sword and the Serpent, a book on Japanese swordmanship, makes an interesting claim: the claim is that kabutowari (helmet cutters) were sword-sized battle weapons that had a sharp tip but not a sharp edge. The idea is that any katana would get dulled cutting into armor, so why not use a specialized sword, the "kabuto-wari," as basically a crushing weapon, with the tip sharp enough to pry into joints in the armor.

The logic sounds good, and Sensei Evans provides a picture and describes how he trained with one.

Problem is, the only type of kabutowari I've seen outside this book (and the only ones I've seen on the web) are basically a heavier version of a jitte, a metal bar cudgel with a hook about one foot long.

Has anyone ever seen a katana-sized kabutowari, especially an antique one? Or is this a modern invention?

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F
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Old 7th April 2012, 08:42 AM   #2
Timo Nieminen
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I haven't heard of any such extra long kabutowari, and I don't think they appear in any of the common English language books covering unusual Japanese weapons (Mol's "Classical weaponry of Japan" and Don Cunningham's books).

There were katana-sized jutte/jitte (pre-Edo), and kanamuchi (iron whip) could be even longer. But these weren't battlefield weapons (unlike, at least according to many sources, the kabutowari).

My reading of Evans is that he says that after the sword is blunted against armour, it's used as a club (i.e., like a kabutowari). But he writes about "heavier" swords, rather than 2 pound swords. Whether he considers a 3 pound katana to be "heavy" (pretty heavy for a katana), or whether he's writing about odachi, I don't know. (This is from the Google Books preview, which isn't the whole book, so perhaps he says something else, too.)

It isn't like the Japanese were short of anti-armour weapons; the gun and dagger were certainly effective, and the spear and arrow will be OK against not-too-heavy armour, so it wasn't essential to have anti-armour swords.

I haven't seen a kabutowari even close to as heavy as Evans' 4 pound one. But that seems to just be an iron suburito, rather than a "real" weapon.
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Old 7th April 2012, 04:22 PM   #3
fearn
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I'm not sure whether posting the picture from the book here constitutes "fair use," but his kabutowari is straight bladed, about the length of the katana in the picture, with a chisel tip, a hook on the back (as in the conventional kabutowari) and a simple grip. I've never seen anything like it elsewhere, which is why I posted the question.

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Old 7th April 2012, 11:11 PM   #4
VANDOO
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JAPANESE WEAPONS IS NOT MY FIELD BUT HERE ARE SOME PICTURES THAT MAY HELP THE DISCUSSION.
I ALWAYS CALLED THE WEAPON YOU REFER TO AS KABUTOWARI BY THE NAME HACHIWARI. BOTH EVIDENTLY HAVE THE SAME MEANING, FROM WHAT I REMEMBER MOST OF THESE COME FROM THE EDO PERIOD WHEN SAMURAI WERE FORBIDDEN TO CARRY THEIR SWORDS IN PUBLIC. THE RANGE IN SIZE OF HACHIWARI I HAVE SEEN IS FROM 350MM TO 450MM AS STATED ON WIKI. THERE ARE PICTURES OF SEVERAL HACHIWARI/KABUTOWARI OF THE CURVED SHARP POINTED FORM AS WELL AS THE STRAIGHT BLUNT ENDED FORM. I ALSO INCLUDE A COUPLE PICTURES OF A TEKKAN (IRON SWORD) THIS WAS ALSO CARRIED IN THE EDO PERIOD FOR THE SAME REASONS AND IS APPROXIMATELY THE SIZE OF A WAKIZASHI.
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Last edited by VANDOO : 8th April 2012 at 04:53 AM.
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Old 8th April 2012, 02:37 AM   #5
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Thanks Vandoo,

That's two-thirds of the way there, lengthwise anyway..

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Old 8th April 2012, 05:05 AM   #6
Timo Nieminen
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Yes, kabutowari and hachiwari are synonyms. Both are old names. To complicate matters, it seems there were individual swords named "hachiwari", and kabutowari (or hachiwari) is also the usual term for testing swords by attempting to cut helmets with them.

Of these pictured examples, the 1st (as mentioned above, this is a tekkan) and the last are not kabutowari. Kabutowari need the hook and the curved "blade". The hook is on the inside of the curve (which is the front, according to most depictions of use I've seen).

The last weapon is a jutte. Sword-hilted jutte are unusual, but known. (Perhaps some writers classify them as kabutowari/hachiwari on the basis of the mountings?)

The first weapon is also called tetto as well as tekkan (both meaning "iron sword"). Don Cunningham (Samurai Weapons) calls weapon #3 (i.e., photo 4) a "tekkan made in the shape of hachiwari or kabutowari" (also saying the same about a tetto like weapon #1).

At hand are a supposedly-old tetto like #1, weighing 380g, and a modern kabutowari, with 14" "blade" and of quite stout construction, weighing 580g. Both are far too short and light for serious use as suburito, and will be poor against armour. (I think my kabutowari is the one sold by Bugei; their advertising blurb says "It could be used to break helmets and other armor" but I thoroughly doubt this.)
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