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Koto Ubu Tachi And Katate-Uchi In Shinto Times.


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#1 Alex A

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 06:28 PM

In Shinto times.

 

I was wondering. Anyone know of any examples were a Samurai solely carried a Katate-Uchi (Uchigatana)?, lets say Machi-Okuri for two handed use, just short of Katana length nagasa. Would a wakizashi still be necessary?

 

Also wondering if Ubu Koto Tachi during Shinto times were typically worn like Katana?

 

Looking for any info linked to title, cheers.


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#2 Geraint

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Posted 15 February 2016 - 06:47 PM

Hi Alex.

 

Short samurai = short sword.  It is not unknown to find a daisho where the dai is shorter than what we would call katana length.  In a way that answers both of your first two questions but as the badge of a samuraI was the daisho then a wakizashi would be carried.  Sometimes one finds katana/tanto daisho, from memory there was a shinshinto example in one of the London auction houses some years ago.  (Festing sale?)

 

The reason usually given for the reduction in length from tachi to katana is that tachi were intended for use when mounted but were too long for foot combat.  That being the case ubu Koto tachi would have been a problem carried as a katana which is why so many are suriage and why at certain periods, copies of koto suriage swords were in fashion. 

 

Does that help?

 

All the best


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#3 Alex A

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Posted 15 February 2016 - 08:58 PM

Hello Geraint, thanks for the reply.

 

I wasn't very clear with my questions, the result of posting a thread after a few sunday beers.

 

Anyway.heres a link I was looking at.http://www.yamakawad...es in shape.pdf

 

As for Ubu tachi, take an early Muromachi Tachi for example (no 6 on the link), around 72cm Nagasa. Being Ubu and around Katana length already, I'm wondering that if it were worn with a wakizashi, would the owner have just worn it like a Katana?.

 

As for Uchigatana, your right, short person/short sword. I'm sure someone told me a good wile ago that Uchigatana were favoured by a specific sword school or castle guard for indoor combat (something a long them lines :)). Ive seen one or two for sale recently, all in good Edo Koshirae and all Machi-Okuri for two handed use, good swords, not Kazu-uchimono, as a lot were. It just got me wondering,  there must of been a great number knocking about at that time.

 

Possibly a case of me being pedantic again, thinking too much maybe  :laughing:

 

Cheers


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#4 Darcy

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Posted 15 February 2016 - 11:55 PM

Uchigatana is not the short katana, that is a katate-uchi ... uchigatana can come in a lot of different lengths and goes back at least to the Kamakura period. 

 

Katate-uchi is made with a short nakago and shorter size and is suitable for one handed use. 

 

Wearing a daisho is a badge of office but it's pretty clear that daisho were not constantly in use because today we don't see the daisho koshirae. It's fair to think that a lot got broken up but we're talking about a ratio of thousands to one. There should be more high quality daisho out there. 

 

From what we see in the swords for example, there are about 11,000 Juyo swords yet there are 21 daisho. There are more daisho fittings than swords so it seems fair to expect that mismatches did exist for the blades and this was normal, and it can be verified by collectors who have encountered or own such a thing. These daisho are almost exclusively Shinshinto products. The earliest is a Momoyama period Bitchu Mizuta Kunishige. There is one Omi Daijo. 

 

Swords were never cheap and in my reading I had encountered that the samurai's lord would supply him one sword which was necessary for his duty and he was responsible for the other one. I can imagine that the poorer samurai did not lead the kind of existence that would allow them to go out and buy another. 

 

The evidence though is pretty hard to argue about. It's like talking about aliens. If they exist they are either uncommon or far away or both because otherwise we would see evidence of their presence. Daisho appear to have been a luxury and a formality and I would think that far from the Shogun's halls your every day samurai would be getting by with one blade his lord gave him or else his father's blade. 

 

Alternatively the issue can be thought of that matched koshirae were a luxury and if you were wearing a pair of blades, again you would use what you could get for the most part. One simple reason for black lacquer and iron kodogu and/or horn kashira is that these are not expensive materials or so difficult to make. They can also pass inspection from a distance as being matched and for all intents and purposes if you had a couple of iron tsuba and black lacquered koshirae that is a match. 

 

The truth is probably some combination of these things. 

 

One last note is that there were indeed two sword styles and it may be that some of the swords were made as a preference for someone who never had an intention of using it two handed. Another mystery somewhat associated with this is why did Oda Nobunaga cut down so many tachi in the Muromachi period. 

 

A case in point is the Heshihiri Hasebe which is kokuho and a little under 65cm. He cut a Samonji tachi down to 64cm. So he obviously thought that tachi were not so useful for him. These are about the size of a normal Muromachi katate uchi. 


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#5 Jacques D.

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 10:32 AM

Katate-uchi is a martial art term as well maki-uchi. It is not a type of sword.  



#6 Jean

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 12:21 PM

From Markus Sesko book "Encyclopedia of Japanese of Japanese swords"

Katate uchi:

1 - Generic word for a sword intended for a single-handed use, or more specific to refer to the shorter uchigatana with shorter tangs coming in fashion in the Muromachi period
2 - Generic term for a one-handed cut with a sword
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#7 Jacques D.

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 12:42 PM

Jean

 

I have yet to see a Japanese textbook saying katate-uchi is a type of sword and different of uchi-gatana. At least the term katate-uchi gatana would be more correct and Japanese are known  to shorten locutions.



#8 Jean

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 01:15 PM

Jacques,

You should ask Markus his sources as he is the author of this encyclopedia :)
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#9 Jean

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 01:21 PM

If you read English, Jacques, that is what Markus is saying, the only difference is that he does not mention it is a martial art term but a generic one. :)
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#10 Jacques D.

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 02:30 PM

Jean

 

""Or more specific ro refer to the shorter uchigatana with shorter tangs coming in fashion in the Muraomachi period"" (can't copy and paste or give a link)  

 

For what i read and understand, Markus speaks of 2 different types of sword Uchigatana AND Katate-uchi.

 

 

About martial art Google katate uchi and have a look at the first video you find



#11 Guido Schiller

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 02:32 PM

The truth is somewhere in between.

 

Uchigatana 打刀 (lit. "strike-sword") already had its predecessors in the Heian period, but it became standard for foot soldiers during the second half of the Muromachi period. In the Edo period, when the uchigatana became the norm, the term was abbreviated to just katana 刀; however, katana and uchigatana mean the same thing.

 

Katate 片手 just means "single hand(ed)", katateuchi 片手打 "single handed strike". The correct term for a sword intended for single handed use is therefore katateuchigatana 片手打刀 (the "utsu/uchi" part can't be omitted in this case). But then again, when talking about swords, katateuchi is usually accepted as an abbreviation for katateuchigatana.

 

Clear as mud, huh?


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#12 Jussi Ekholm

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 04:08 PM

I think you'd enjoy Uchigatana-goshirae book by Tokyo National Museum as it has lots of detailed info about this type of thing happening. The book also features how the tachi koshirae declined in use during Muromachi period and became only formal. Like Darcy said before there are many famous swords in Uchigatana-goshirae book that later on their life got mounted in katana koshirae.

 

Then I'll also jump in the terminology train. :D I have quote from Uchigatana-goshirae book and NBTHK Issue 663-665 as the sword was kantei blade.

 

1. 拵は柄の寸法が短く片手打用となり。 - This is from uchigatana-goshirae book and I would understand it (with the help of translation by Markus :D) meaning short hilted koshirae for one handed use. I searched the book through pretty fast and they were usually described in similar fashion.

 

2. 室町後期の永正︙大永頃によく見られる片手打ちの打刀姿です。- NBTHK kantei (Markus also has translated this in his Kantei-Zenshu), I think blocky translation would be Late Muromachi period, Eisho to Daiei, typical uchigatana sugata of katate-uchi. Markus has more fluid translation in his book where he just describes the sword as katate-uchi which is easier to understand.

 

Also you must take note that NBTHK describes also another form during late Muromachi, to diffrentiate from katate-uchi. Sword that was meant to be used two handed, morote-uchi, which I believe are usually more towards Eiroku - Tensho, as the sword size was evolving again. Both of these swords are uchigatana but special terminology will help to understand what we are talking about without longer explanations.

 

 

 

 


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#13 Darcy

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 04:20 PM

Jean

 

I have yet to see a Japanese textbook saying katate-uchi is a type of sword and different of uchi-gatana. At least the term katate-uchi gatana would be more correct and Japanese are known  to shorten locutions.

 

 

http://www.touken.or...slation/698.htm

 

"Definitely, the first impression is a popular uchigatana shape to accommodate Katateuchi one hand"

 

http://www.touken.or...slation/634.htm

 

His father was Gorosaemon-no-jo Kiyomitsu, and his active time was around the Tenmon era, and many of his swords were shorter, and the nakago were katateuchi (intended to be used with one hand) or a little longer.

 

http://www.touken.or...slation/670.htm

 

Yosazaemon no jo Sukesada and Gorozaemon no jo Kiyomitsu, their swords are usually 2 shaku to 2 shaku 2 sun which is short, and both the mihaba and kissaki are standard, and there is a short nakago, which is a katateuchi uchigatana shape. 

 

 

http://www.touken.or...slation/667.htm

 

The upper half has sori, and from this, it is possible to judge this as a shape seen often around the date on the ura side date (around the Tensho period) for  a katate-uchi or short uchigatana.

 

http://www.touken.or...slation/669.htm

 

 

From 2012, another typical description:

 

As an almost correct anwer, some people voted for Katsumitsu

and Tadamitsu. These smiths have suguha work with a bright nioiguchi, but their active period was
around the Bunmei and Daiei periods. Because they were active at a later time than Yosazaemon
no jo Sukesada and Gorozaemon no jo Kiyomitsu, their swords are usually 2 shaku to 2 shaku 2
sun which is short, and both the mihaba and kissaki are standard, and there is a short nakago,
which is a katateuchi uchigatana shape. This katana is much longer and wide, and the shape is
from the second half of the Muromachi period, and it is characteristic late Muromachi work, so you
should pay attention to this type of detail.
Explanation by Hinohara Dai.
 
...........
 
It may be that more correct use of the phrase would be "katateuchi uchigatana" ... but they are using it to describe a type of sword and a type of nakago in particular and have used it independently as I used it above. 
 
The salient point is that uchigatana isn't the right word to describe these one handed swords. Maybe it is necessary to append uchigatana to the phrase though. 
 
Anyway I don't invent this stuff out of thin air because I feel like it.

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#14 Darcy

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 04:32 PM

 

About martial art Google katate uchi and have a look at the first video you find

 

I don't think anyone will disagree with you that it has use as a martial arts term. 

 

But you didn't google far enough on your first dissent. When you got conflicting information you played the "it's just westerners / I haven't seen" card, and sometimes that just means you haven't seen it. Not that it isn't there. 

 

This is always a danger that we can all fall into, the "I haven't seen it so it doesn't exist." Even the Japanese experts have fallen into that trap and the more confident we become in our expertise then the more likely we are to fall into the trap. Self included.


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#15 Alex A

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 07:16 PM

Thanks Gents, fun getting ones head around the terminology ;-)

 

Darcy, appreciate the detailed write up, plenty of useful information in there to take in. Fair to say that some Samurai would have had to make do with solely owning a Katate-uchigatana. As mentioned, Ive seen a few of these swords, late Muromachi/ Machi-Okuri, were an owner has swapped for a larger tsuka and sacrificed Nagasa.

 

Quite often you will see them listed as "Wakizashi" because they are under 60cm, which to me is an incorrect term, it should be Machi-Okuri Katate-uchigatana. If a samurai at that time paired one up with a Wakizashi to make a Daisho, would he refer to his Daisho as a double Wakizashi Daisho :laughing:

 

 

I suppose you could say the same about early Tachi being cut down and labelled as Katana. If we know what something is, ie "O-suriage tachi", weird to me that often you see them labelled as Katana.

 

Jussi, ive been after that book for a long time, just keep getting side tracked, its top of the list, cheers :thumbsup:


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#16 Darcy

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 07:38 PM

 

Quite often you will see them listed as "Wakizashi" because they are under 60cm, which to me is an incorrect term, it should be Machi-Okuri Katate-uchigatana. If a samurai at that time paired one up with a Wakizashi to make a Daisho, would he refer to his Daisho as a double Wakizashi Daisho :laughing:

 

 

This is a good point too. The NBTHK has not been consistent on these kinds of things. Sometimes they seem to interpret use and label by use. Sometimes they interpret by length. For this they use 30.3 for tanto but seems like 60 for wakizashi. 

 

Naginata Naoshi are often just labeled as katana or as wakizashi, sometimes as naginata naoshi. Sometimes it can have two different designations, one for it passing Juyo and one at Tokuju. Yoshimitsu's one piece that is intact and not a tanto is labelled as a wakizashi at Tokuju though it is ubu, it looks like a kodachi, and it is signed katana mei and made in the late Kamakura period and the concept doesn't exist yet. Also a wakizashi at Juyo. But it got resubmitted later on for Tokuju again (this is usually because of lost papers but sometimes because some matter is not fully settled). On the second pass through Tokuju it is now correctly described as an uchigatana. The length is only 58.2cm so the first two just did strict categorization based on length.

 

Now it's been interpreted as: what was it made for. So the result is more satisfying ultimately because it's describing what it is, not rigidly pushing it into a category into which it doesn't belong.

 

This would support what you say, if it's a katate-uchi and made as such then the length plus or minus some shouldn't matter. But that does open up a really thorny problem because we have all those nanbokucho period "wakizashi" which are really developments of the Kamakura uchigatana in many cases I think rather than all elongations of tanto as people commonly think. I think there are both concepts converging into one, a tanto that is longer than a tanto and a very short uchigatana becomes some kind of a useful sidearm and probably precursor to the wakizashi. But wakizashi as we think of it seems to be a late Muromachi to Edo period thing. The others are just called wakizashi because they are about the same length. 

 

There really probably needs to be a separate name for them. 


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#17 Jean

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 07:43 PM

Alex,

I have seen daisho made of two wakizashi. The notion of length must not enter into consideration, only the notion of daito and shoto'

Tachi can be ubu and around 70/73 cm. I have a Yasumitsu tachi about 70/71 cm. Here is another one
http://www.nihonto.com/AraIchi.html
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#18 Alex A

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 09:05 PM

Darcy, I once owned a Nanbokucho Hira-zukuri "Wakizashi", and it never felt right when I referred to it as a "Wakizashi", I think Uchigatana would suit better. I suppose folk using them and referring to them as Wakizashi in the late Muromachi/Edo periods as kind of made the term stick.

 

Jean, so the really was a doublewakizashi Daisho!!, il remember about length, cheers  :)


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#19 Jussi Ekholm

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 09:29 PM

I think modern classification is sometimes too strict when it comes to "borderline" things, as I don't believe it would have been a big deal back in the day if your sword is 59 cm or 61 cm. I picked 10 swords from Kantei-Zenshu that were listed being used in katate-uchi style by NBTHK. Here are the blade lengths, and 3 of them are wakizashi but the few cms wouldn't have mattered back then.

 

66,8, 66,3, 64,8, 64,3, 62,3, 61,8, 60,6, 58,3, 56,5, 53,3. Here are portions of the description of swords that are 56,5 cm and 53,3 cm.

 

 

1. The blade measures a little less than 2 shaku, that means in terms of nomenclature it is a wakizashi, but it was once made as compact uchigatana.

 

2. This is a compact blade measuring under 2 shaku. It shows sakizori and a widely hardened boshi with long kaeri which runs back as a pronounced muneyaki. So we are clearly facing a katate-uchi of the Muromachi period.

 

Now that was the actual portion that I had data to backup, next one is recreational own opinion that I don't have things to back up as I am not a koryu practicioner nor any martial artist.

 

60 - 65 cm is a very short sword for two handed use. I have a Chinese replica of katate-uchi which I custom ordered to my specs, and it has 61 cm blade and 20 cm tsuka. I've used it for cutting (+ trying to do some iaido kata from memory) and in my opinion it is best suited for one handed use.


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#20 Alex A

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 09:45 PM

Hi Jussi, I agree that it doesn't seem very long for two handed use, but would you agree that the extra length on the tsuka may come in handy?. Imagine blocking a powerful blow using one hand, but then think how much stronger your block would be with two hands, I can see why Machi-Okuri was a good idea, the blade still as the same reach after all.


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#21 Dogen

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 01:33 AM

I've followed this discussion with interest.  My (only) nihonto was sold to me as a katana.  The NTHK origami list the nagasa length as 1 shaku, 9 sun, 9 bu.  NTHK origami don't indicate the class of the blade (wakizashi vs katana), so I always assumed it this would fall into the katate-uchi class of "long sword" and not a wakizashi.  It is of the right time period from what I've learned so far (Eisho period).

 

IMG_0852.JPG

 

IMG_0851.JPG

 

John

 


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#22 Darcy

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 02:25 AM

I've followed this discussion with interest.  My (only) nihonto was sold to me as a katana.  The NTHK origami list the nagasa length as 1 shaku, 9 sun, 9 bu.  NTHK origami don't indicate the class of the blade (wakizashi vs katana), so I always assumed it this would fall into the katate-uchi class of "long sword" and not a wakizashi.  It is of the right time period from what I've learned so far (Eisho period).

 

attachicon.gifIMG_0852.JPG

 

attachicon.gifIMG_0851.JPG

 

John

 

 

Interesting example with a cool hamon. Is it signed? Not clear from the photo. But it seems to be exactly what we're talking about. 


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#23 Dogen

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 02:54 AM

Interesting example with a cool hamon. Is it signed? Not clear from the photo. But it seems to be exactly what we're talking about. 

 

No - it's mumei.  NTHK attributed it to Kanenori (Mino - Eisho period). The hamon is really cool.  It's considered hitatsura but all the other hitatsura examples I've seen have muneyaki. In this one, the hamon just touches or reaches just above the shinoji. It has an almost flame-like appearance. 


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#24 Alex A

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:10 AM

Hi John, ye, looks just what were talking about.

 

60.3cm Nagasa according to this converter ive just discovered, aint the internet great ;-) http://www.kampaibud....org/Script.htm

 

I was looking at another recently, nakago inscription dated to Eisho.


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#25 Jean

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:34 AM

http://www.tsurugino...1_3/a00162.html

This one may be slighly machi okuri, but listed as wakizashi by Tsuruginoya though a katate uchi class.
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#26 Alex A

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 05:12 PM

A nice example Jean, ive bumped into a few good Bizen examples, both dated to Eisho one with Bo-hi and the other Futasuji-hi, and both also Machi-Okuri with two mekugi ana

 

Machi-Okuri I find interesting on these swords, a little piece of history linked to a previous owner. Maybe someone who preferred a longer grip in battle during the Sengoku-Jidai, maybe down to a touch of tsuka envy a little later on into the Edo period :laughing:


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