5 Facts about the Wakizashi Sword

Wakizashi Japanese sword Samurai Blade Katana Swordsmith Martial arts Samurai culture Bushido Swordsmanship Traditional weaponry Sword forging Hamon (temper line) Tsuba (sword guard) Saya (scabbard) Tsuka (hilt) Seppa (spacer) Kashira (pommel) Menuki (ornaments) Samurai code


The wakizashi is like the little sibling of the famous katana, but it’s still a big deal in the world of samurai. Worn on the side, its name literally means that! This special sword wasn’t just a backup plan. It served various purposes, such as close combat or even for tragic reasons like ritual suicide. It came in different sizes, so samurai could use it in different situations. Let’s learn more about the wakizashi—its cool history, how it worked with the katana, and what made it so important for samurai. This sword has a curved blade and was made around the same time as the katana, back when samurai were a big deal. Even if you know a bit about swords, there are probably some surprises about the wakizashi sword you didn’t know!

1)The Two Faces of Wakizashi: Ko-
wakizashi and O-wakizashi

The wakizashi was certainly not a uniform weapon. The wakizashi had two types: the ko-wakizashi and the o-wakizashi. The ko-wakizashi, which means “short wakizashi,” was preferred by skilled professionals for tight situations. Its shorter blade, between 30 and 45 cm, made it ideal for tight spaces and quick draws. Samurai used it as a backup to their katana, seamlessly switching between powerful katana strikes and swift ko-wakizashi maneuvers.
In contrast, the o-wakizashi, meaning “long wakizashi,” pushed the boundaries between wakizashi and katana with blades exceeding 45 cm. This longer version served as a primary weapon for lower-ranked samurai who couldn’t carry a full katana. Even high-ranking samurai might choose an o-wakizashi for its concealability, making it easier to carry discreetly. This size difference highlights the wakizashi’s adaptability – a complementary weapon for some, a primary weapon for others.

2) It’s Been Forged For More Than 600 Years

The wakizashi sword is super old, like really, really old! It’s from Japan and it’s been around since the 15th or 16th century! Back then, they made it with something called low-carbon steel, but as time went on, they figured out better ways to make it stronger. So, they started using high-carbon steel instead. This made the sword way tougher and able to last longer. Imagine using something that’s been around for hundreds of years! Crazy, right? That’s the wakizashi for you. It’s not just an ordinary sword; It’s a piece of history that has passed down through generations, improving and strengthening with the discovery of each new technique. So, when someone says the wakizashi is old, they’re not kidding around.

3). A Paired Companion: The Wakizashi and the Samurai’s Arsenal

Samurai weren’t one-sword wonders! They wore two swords together. The shorter counterpart of the well-known katana was called a wakizashi sword. Imagine them as a potent double-edged punch. Whereas the wakizashi was lighter and faster and ideal for confined quarters or situations where the katana was out of reach, the katana was meant for powerful attacks. It was like having a backup weapon ready to jump into action if needed.The daisho, a double-sword style, showcased a samurai’s fighting spirit.

4) The Government Regulated Blade Length

Back in the past, Japanese sword producers could make wakizashi swords in any size they needed. However at that point, during the 1800s, the government chose to step in and make a few principles. They said “We need to keep things in order here.” So, they made regulations about how long the wakizashi’s blade could be, as well as other swords too. This stopped the free-for-all and brought some order to the sword-making world. Just imagine if anyone could make swords as long or short as they pleased—it would’ve been a real mess! But with these new rules in place, things became a bit more organized. The government made sure everyone’s swords were the right size, making life a little easier for both sword makers and sword users.

5.)More Than Just a Weapon: The Wakizashi in Swordsmanship

In Japan, the wakizashi sword is an important cultural object despite not being as well-known as the katana. Previously, samurai highly skilled in the combined usage of the katana and wakizashi, allowing them to deploy quick and adaptable fighting styles, though it is no longer used by samurai in combat, it is nevertheless essential to martial arts such as kenjutsu, kendo, and iaido. Some martial arts schools specialize only in wakizashi proficiency, showcasing its relevance and prowess beyond its duty as a backup weapon. Possessing a distinct set of skills and techniques, the wakizashi was not just a backup weapon but a formidable instrument in its own right.


In conclusion, the wakizashi stands as a symbol of versatility and tradition in the world of samurai culture. Its historical significance spans over 600 years, evolving from a simple blade made of low-carbon steel to a durable weapon crafted from high-carbon steel. The distinction between the ko-wakizashi and o-wakizashi illustrates its adaptability, serving as both a primary and secondary weapon depending on the samurai’s rank and circumstances. Government regulations in the 1800s brought order to sword production, ensuring standardized blade lengths. In spite of its little height contrasted with the katana, the wakizashi holds its own significance in hand to hand fighting, exhibiting its getting through heritage past simple battle. As an essential piece of the samurai’s arms stockpile, the wakizashi exemplifies the soul of custom, ability, and versatility, making a permanent imprint on Japanese history and culture.

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