Sunday, January 10, 2016
I was reading an online essay about Japanese swords, recently. By and large, it was decent. There was an off-the-cuff assertion, however... According to the author --sorry, closed the thing as fast as I could, and lost the bookmark--, tsuba (the handguard) were there, in opposition to European swords, not to protect against your opponents' blades but to protect your hand against slipping. The dumb is strong on that one. There are blades with guards designed to keep your hand from slipping into them. Check hunting and fighting knives. Those smallish guards, a bare finger high? Those are made to stop your fingers. European swords' guards? Which? The viking longsword or the schiavona? Because as Odin is my witness you're not going to convince me they work the same way. And then, the tsuba in katana. Because they only stop the finger they need to be, alone in the whole blasted traditional swords [*], 8 cm circles of steel or hard bronze. Oh, sure, they become softer and flimsier as you get into the Pax Tokugawa... and into dueling. But no, let's just drop our inverse 5 cents of stupidity debt. Tsuba are only there to avoid slipping into the blade. Now, this was in a rather clear subject, something with rather obvious comparisons, documentation... Just imagine what you're being sold as Truth in things that are more difficult to see (combat in kata, psychology of the fight...)... and tremble. Take care. [*] My apologies: Chinese sabers can and do have something equivalent.