Ninja vs. Katana Sword: Here’re Some Surprising Differences

April 2, 2022

When you imagine the Katana, the famous Japanese sword, you would probably imagine a Samurai having it. But, do you know, there was another famous icon that seems to have used Katana too? That was Ninjas. 

In the big picture, when we compare both katana swords held by Samurai & Ninja, we can quickly figure out the difference in figures and the way they’re carried. What’s the actual difference between both? 

After doing immense research on it and excerpting the rare facts from well-known Japanese training experts, my research ended up with a few surprising differences between a real katana sword and the one Ninjas used. So, this content aims to highlight the difference between both in terms of types, form, usage, and spiritual/particular purpose.

Disclaimer: Since Ninjas were spies in the past, there’s not much concrete historical evidence about them. All this content is based on personal studies, without any intention of denying other theories.

Samurai Katana vs. Ninja Swords

Different types of Katana Sword

The list of differences begins with the types of differences. Look below what kind of Katana the Samurai and Ninja used. The Samurai used seven different Katana throughout Japanese history, including;

  • Tachi
  • Naginata
  • Tanto
  • Uchikatana 
  • Chokuto
  • Wakizashi
  • Yari

Besides, there are plenty of other Katana types as well as the history of Samurai itself is very long. The way they fought in battle changed from individual combat to groups fighting in a war, so their weapons changed accordingly.

On the other hand, there are many theories, but Ninjas found used different types of Katana too, for instance, the straight sword they used to carry on their back. This was surely the primary type of katana sword that anyone would probably imagine a ninja using. Nevertheless, they also used something called a katana knife.

These katanas were used for a mission in places where Japanese swords weren’t allowed to bring in. 

  1. Different Form

In terms of various forms, let’s compare the basic Uchi (Odachi Katana – as the samurai katana – with ninja swords carried on Ninja’s back.  There are mainly three differences between katana and ninja forms;

Curve – You might have noticed from seeing ninja swords in anime and manga that the first and most obvious difference is whether they’re curved or not. The curves of Katana are meant for a stronger slash when swung to cut something with a sword.

You must either push or pull the blade; otherwise, you would rather be smashing if you swing the blade straight down. The curve automatically makes a swing draw an arc, making it much easier to slash. This means samurai katana were meant for slashing, and ninja swords were meant for stabbing.

If Ninjas were ever to use their swords to attack someone, the situation would be to stab the enemy from somewhere hidden; perhaps from under the floor, they would hardly have any occasions of swinging their swords to slash someone as Samurai did.

Length – The length of Ninja Swords was about 40 centimeters, and the basic Uchi katana was about 70 centimeters on average. So, the ninja sword was about the length of the sub sword – between the length of 30 to 60 centimeters. Here, the short length and the straight form were to avoid hitting and catching obstacles like trees and walls while running.

Ring (Tsuba) & Sheath (Saya) – There’s a ring between the blade and handle, which was meant for protecting the handholding handle in a fight and balancing the weight of the blade & handle. Saya is the sheath or scabbard of Katana.

While these items of Samurai Katana are considered art with numerous shapes and appealing colors, the ones of Ninja swords are usually pure black and matted. 

Different Usage

Finally, the Katana and Ninja swords are different for three uses. Have a look at three different usages;

The Katana of Samurai was meant to be used as a weapon in battle or as a symbol to show that they were a noble warrior. Whereas the Katana of Ninja was more of a convenient tool for them to carry around on their missions as spies.

The Katana of Samurai was known as the “Soul of Samurai” because Katana was initially considered an item to be dedicated to a god and where Gods would reside. For this reason, there’s a small shrine inside the workshop of the katana swordsmith, and the Katana is placed inside the sanctuaries of shrines.

The Difference in Spiritual Means

Katana sword used by Ninja did not have any spiritual meanings like the ones of Samurai. Instead, they were more of a practical tool used in various situations to accomplish the mission. 

Ninjas used katana more like;

  • A Snorkel
  • Step ladder
  • Accessory case

 To conclude, there’s a difference in the idea of samurai katana vs. Ninja swords. Despite being powerful Japanese swords, yet there purpose and way of use are entirely different. 

If you’re fond of the katana sword collection and invest your time searching for the best military items like kukri knife and Marble Chess sets, then come to Battling Blade, and you’ll explore various swords and knives of the best quality. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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