Sword Terminology

Alloy Steel
Steel mixed with other elements to enhance specific properties. Alloy steel swords can offer benefits like increased strength, flexibility, or resistance to corrosion.
Basket Guard
A protective guard that encloses the hand, often seen on European swords like the Scottish broadsword. It offers comprehensive protection against strikes.
Battle Ready Sword
A sword designed for actual combat rather than decorative purposes. These swords are made with high-quality materials, properly tempered, and sharpened for effective use.
Blade Foible
The weaker, upper part of the sword blade, opposite the forte. The foible is lighter and quicker, ideal for delivering strikes.
Blade Forte
The stronger, thicker part of the sword blade closest to the hilt. The forte is used for blocking and parrying due to its strength.
A groove or fuller in Japanese swords, often added to reduce weight and improve balance. BoHi can also produce a distinctive sound when the sword is swung.
The pattern of the hamon (temper line) in the tip or kissaki of a Japanese sword. The Boshi reflects the blade's heat treatment and can have various shapes.
A wide-bladed sword designed for slashing. Broadswords were prevalent in many cultures and are often associated with medieval European knights.
Carbon Steel Sword
Swords made from carbon steel, which is a mix of iron and carbon. Carbon steel blades are known for their hardness, edge retention, and ease of sharpening.
Chappe (Rain Guard)
A protective piece, often leather, attached to the crossguard of European swords. The Chappe deflects rain, preventing it from entering the scabbard.
Clay Tempered
A heat-treatment process for swords where clay is applied to the blade before quenching. This creates a differential hardness, resulting in a sharp edge and flexible spine.
CoB – Centre Of Balance
The point on a sword where it balances perfectly when placed on a pivot. Understanding the CoB is crucial for gauging a sword's handling characteristics.
CoP – Center Of Percussion
The point on a sword blade where it can strike with the most power and least vibration. Hitting with the CoP ensures optimal force transfer.
A bar situated perpendicular to the blade, just above the hilt. The crossguard protects the wielder's hand from an opponent's blade and prevents the hand from sliding onto the sharp edge.
A term describing swords with a cross-shaped design when viewed from above, often seen in medieval European swords due to their straight crossguards.
Damascus Seel
A type of steel characterized by distinctive patterns resembling flowing water. Damascus steel blades are known for their toughness, edge sharpness, and unique aesthetics from repeated folding and forging.
Damascus Steel
A type of steel known for its distinctive wavy patterns, resulting from repeated folding and forging. Damascus steel blades combine beauty with functionality.
Distal Taper
The gradual thinning of a sword's blade from the base to the tip. A distal taper improves the sword's balance and cutting dynamics.
There are currently no sword terminologies for letter "E"
A metal band or cap at the end of a sword's handle, reinforcing it. Ferrules prevent splitting and add to the overall structural integrity of the hilt.
Finger Guard
A protective feature on some swords that shields the fingers, especially when using techniques that involve placing a finger over the guard or ricasso for better control.
Folded Steel Sword
Swords made by repeatedly folding and forging the steel. This process, traditional in Japanese sword-making, removes impurities and creates distinctive grain patterns.
A metal collar situated at the top of a Japanese sword's handle, right before the guard. The Fuchi strengthens the handle and adds a decorative touch.
Full Tang Sword
A sword construction where the blade's metal extends throughout the handle's length. Full tang designs offer increased strength and durability.
A distinct groove or channel running along a blade's flat side. The Fuller lightens the sword and adds rigidity, often mistakenly referred to as the "blood groove."
There are currently no sword terminologies for letter "G"
A metal collar that wraps around the base of a Japanese sword blade. The Habaki ensures the sword fits snugly into its scabbard and also acts as a stopper against the hand guard.
Hadori Polish
A high-level polishing technique for Japanese swords. Hadori Polish emphasizes the blade's hamon (temper line) and gives the surface a mirror-like finish.
The visible temper line on a Japanese sword blade. The Hamon results from differential heat treatment and showcases the blade's artistic and functional aspects.
Hand And A Half Sword
Also known as a "bastard sword," this weapon can be wielded with one or both hands. Its versatility in handling made it popular during the medieval period.
The process of increasing the hardness of steel by heat treatment. For swords, this ensures a sharp, durable edge while maintaining some flexibility in the blade's body.
Harmonic Balancing
Refers to a sword's balance and vibrational characteristics. Proper harmonic balancing ensures the blade resonates correctly, reducing stress during impact.
Harmonic Node
Points on a sword where vibrations are minimal during a strike. There are typically two nodes: one near the base and one near the middle of the blade.
The sharp edge of a Japanese sword. Maintaining the Hasaki's sharpness is crucial for effective cutting and combat performance.
The hilt comprises the handle, guard, grip, and pommel of a sword. It's essential for a wielder's grip, ensuring balance and control during combat or practice.
There are currently no sword terminologies for letter "I"
Positioned at the handle's end on Japanese swords, the Kashira is a pommel cap. It not only secures the handle wrapping but also serves as a decorative element.
The pointed tip or end section of a Japanese sword. The Kissaki's geometry, combined with the hamon, reflects the swordsmith's skill and the blade's quality.
Knuckle Guard
A protective feature extending from the crossguard to the pommel, shielding the knuckles. Common in rapiers and sabers, it offers added hand protection.
A traditional Japanese tool, often accompanying a sword in its scabbard. The Kogai served various purposes, including as a hairpin or a tool for personal grooming.
A small utility knife that fits into a pocket on the scabbard of larger Japanese swords. Kogatana is often used for personal grooming or other small tasks.
The mouth or opening of a Japanese sword's scabbard (saya). The Koiguchi is reinforced to endure the repeated drawing and sheathing of the blade.
The protective end cap of a Japanese sword's scabbard (saya). The Kojiri ensures the scabbard's durability and often complements the overall design.
The term for a fully mounted Japanese sword. Koshirae encompasses the blade, its various fittings, and the scabbard, reflecting both aesthetic beauty and functional design.
A type of curvature in Japanese swords where the deepest part of the curve is closer to the hilt. It's one of the several curvature styles in traditional sword-making.
A small utility knife handle, often accompanying traditional Japanese swords. The blade (kogatana) fits into the scabbard, and the Kozuka serves as its handle.
A knob-like fixture on the scabbard (saya) of Japanese swords. The Kurikata serves as an anchor point for the sageo (cord) that secures the sword when worn.
Laminated Steel
A construction method where different types of steel are forged together. Laminated steel swords often have a harder edge and a softer core, combining sharpness with flexibility.
Manganese Steel Sword
Swords made from manganese steel, known for its hardness and durability. Manganese steel is often used in modern, functional swords.
Bamboo or metal pegs used to secure the tang of a Japanese sword to its handle. Mekugi can be removed to disassemble the sword for maintenance.
Mekugi Ana
The holes in a Japanese sword's tang where the mekugi (pegs) are inserted. These secure the blade to the handle.
Small ornamental pieces found under the handle wrap of Japanese swords. Menuki enhances grip and serves as a decorative element, often depicting various themes.
A polishing technique for Japanese swords, resulting in a mirror-like finish. It highlights the blade's intricate details and enhances its aesthetic appeal.
A finishing technique in Japanese sword polishing. Migaki-Bo gives the blade a bright, reflective surface, emphasizing its beauty and craftsmanship.
Mirror Polish
A high-gloss finish on a sword blade, achieved through meticulous polishing. A mirror polish not only enhances aesthetics but also helps prevent corrosion.
The back or spine of a Japanese sword. The Mune is unsharpened and can vary in shape, affecting the sword's overall profile and balance.
The notch at the back of a Japanese sword blade where the tang begins. It's essential for proper fitting of the blade into the handle.
Munemachi / Mune-Machi
The notch on the back of a Japanese sword blade where the tang begins. It's essential for the proper fitting of the blade into the handle.
Refers to the length of a Japanese sword blade, measured from the tip to the beginning of the tang. Nagasa is a crucial factor in determining a sword's purpose and handling.
The tang of a Japanese sword. The Nakago is the unsharpened portion that extends into the handle, secured with pegs called mekugi.
Nugui Gami
A type of Japanese paper used in the sword polishing process. Nugui Gami helps achieve a refined finish, highlighting the blade's intricate details.
Pas D’An
A ring or loop on the guard of some European swords. It provides additional protection for the hand and can be used to trap an opponent's blade.
Pivot Point
The point on a sword where it rotates or pivots. Understanding the pivot point is crucial for techniques that involve quick changes in the blade's direction.
The counterweight at the end of a sword's hilt. The pommel balances the blade and can be used as a striking surface in close combat. Its design often complements the sword's overall aesthetics.
Profile Taper
Refers to the gradual narrowing of the blade's width from base to tip. A pronounced profile taper can enhance a sword's balance and cutting ability.
Purple Katana
Refers to a katana with a purple-themed design, either on its handle wrap, scabbard, or other fittings. It's more of an aesthetic choice rather than a functional one.
There are currently no sword terminologies for letter "Q"
The cord used to tie a Japanese sword to the wearer's belt or obi. Sageo can be made of silk, cotton, or leather and often complements the sword's overall design.
The ray or sharkskin wrap often found on the handle of Japanese swords. Samegawa provides texture, ensuring a firm grip and adding to the sword's aesthetic appeal.
San Mai Steel Sword
A sword made using the San Mai technique, where a harder core is sandwiched between two softer layers of steel. This provides a sharp edge and a flexible spine.
The scabbard or sheath of a Japanese sword. Made primarily of wood, the Saya protects the blade and often features intricate designs or lacquerwork.
A sheath designed to house a sword's blade. The scabbard, often made of wood or leather, protects the blade from damage and the user from unintended injuries.
Scent Stopper Pommel
A pommel type resembling the shape of a perfume bottle's stopper. Common in medieval European swords, it provides balance and can be used as a striking surface.
Metal washers/spacers used on Japanese swords, placed between the guard (tsuba) and the handle (tsuka) or the blade collar (habaki). They ensure a snug fit of components.
Shiage Togi
A final polishing stage for Japanese swords, ensuring the blade's surface is smooth and reflective. It also helps define and highlight the blade's features.
The softer core steel found in traditional Japanese swords. Shingane provides flexibility and resilience, preventing the blade from breaking upon impact.
The ridge line on Japanese swords, particularly the katana. The Shinogi runs along the blade's length, defining its profile and adding structural strength.
Shirasaya Sword
A Japanese blade housed in a plain wooden mounting. Often used for storage or transportation, the Shirasaya lacks the usual ornate fittings of a fully mounted sword.
Shitaji Togi
An initial polishing stage for Japanese swords. Shitaji Togi removes forge scale and defines the blade's basic shape before finer polishing stages.
Metal fittings that reinforce the holes in a Japanese sword's guard (tsuba). They add a decorative touch and prevent the cord (sageo) from wearing out.
Side Ring Guard
Additional protective rings or shells attached to a sword's crossguard. These provide extra hand protection against sliding or thrusting attacks.
Sleipner Tool Steel
A high-quality tool steel known for its edge retention and toughness. Used in modern sword-making, Sleipner steel is a popular choice for functional blades.
The curvature of a Japanese sword blade. Sori enhances the sword's cutting ability and balance, with different styles and depths of curve having specific purposes.
Spring Steel
A variety of steel known for its high yield strength. Spring steel swords can bend without deforming and return to their original shape, making them resilient in combat.
Stainless Steel
Steel alloy with added chromium, resistant to rust. While stainless steel is often used for decorative swords, it's generally not suitable for functional blades due to brittleness.
Sweet Spot
The optimal point on a sword blade for striking. Hitting with the sweet spot ensures maximum force transfer and reduces the risk of the blade breaking.
Sword Edge
The sharpened side of the blade. Maintaining the edge's sharpness is crucial for the sword's performance in cutting and combat scenarios.
Sword Grip
The part of the hilt where the sword is held. It's typically wrapped in leather, cord, or other materials to ensure a firm grip and prevent the hand from slipping during use.
Sword Guard
A protective component, often located between the blade and hilt, that shields the hand from opposing strikes and prevents the hand from sliding onto the blade.
Sword Tempering
The process of heat-treating a sword to achieve desired hardness and flexibility. Proper tempering ensures the blade's durability and performance.
T10 Tool Steel Sword
Swords made from T10 tool steel, known for its high carbon content and toughness. T10 steel offers excellent edge retention and resistance to abrasion.
A traditional Japanese steel used in the crafting of samurai swords. Tamahagane is made from iron sand and charcoal, resulting in a metal with varied carbon content, ideal for different parts of the blade.
A Japanese practice of test cutting using a sword. Tameshigiri often involves cutting rolled mats or bamboo to gauge a sword's sharpness and the wielder's technique.
The extension of the sword blade that goes into the hilt. The tang is crucial for the sword's structural integrity, as it's secured by the handle and pommel.
Tool Steel
A variety of carbon and alloy steels known for their hardness and ability to hold a sharp edge, making them suitable for sword-making.
A protective hand guard on Japanese swords, the Tsuba can be round, square, or other shapes. It safeguards the hand from the blade and deflects opposing strikes.
The handle or grip of a Japanese sword. The Tsuka is often wrapped in materials like silk or leather and contains the tang of the blade.
Tsuka Ito
The wrapping or cord used to cover the handle of Japanese swords. Tsuka Ito, often made of silk or leather, provides grip and aesthetic appeal.
Tsuka Maki (Katana Handle Wrap)
The art of wrapping the handle of a katana. Tsuka Maki ensures a firm grip while adding aesthetic value, often using materials like silk or leather.
A small stabbing or piercing tool often found with traditional Japanese swords. Umabari can be concealed within the sword's fittings for surprise attacks.
Uwa Obi
A type of sash or belt used in traditional Japanese attire. The Uwa Obi helps secure a sword when worn, ensuring it stays in place during movement.
There are currently no sword terminologies for letter "V"
Wire Wrap
A method of wrapping the sword's grip using wire, often seen in some European swords. Wire wrapping provides a firmer grip and adds a decorative touch.
Wootz Steel
A type of crucible steel known for its unique pattern, often referred to as "Damascus steel." Wootz steel blades are both tough and sharp, originating from South India and Sri Lanka.
There are currently no sword terminologies for letter "X"
These are file marks present on the tang (nakago) of Japanese swords. Yasurime can offer insights into the swordsmith's identity or the manufacturing school.
The line separating the main blade and the tip (kissaki) of a Japanese sword. The Yokote delineates the transition in geometry and is a hallmark of traditional katana craftsmanship.