Basic Requirements of an effective Shikomizue

Oct 2017
12
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I’m helping someone who has received little to no useful input on this from just about every enthusiast forum he’s been on (his first mistake, I know). At this point he wants to give up on the project, which I keep urging him not to. He wants to make a reproduction Shikomizue (not a “sword-cane” but the weapon of a hypothetical impoverished killer-for-hire who practices ninjutsu). I realize that the majority of these edged weapons involved straight blades, but the fact is: bamboo culms can have bends, and said bends can easily follow the curve of a short sword. Like, hypothetically speaking, an illegally obtained wakazashi.

I’ve made sure he’d be using a traditionally made, unmarked, modern nihonto only.

I have some ideas in mind, but I’d like to stick to traditional materials and supplies as much as possible (short of rice glue, urushiol-based lacquer, pine pitch, etc.) Obviously the tang pin wouldn’t be exposed, and the tsuka would be made from the base of the culm (a culm from a younger plant which hasn’t fully lengthened, leaving tightly packed nodes that would make for a better grip.)

And before anyone asks, yes, I’m aware of the dangers of being found with this thing outside of a display case (charges which are more severe and numerous than carrying a katana).
 
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athena

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
5,032
Eugene, Oregon
Not knowing what a Shikonizue is, I looked for information. To be sure, are the pictures in this link what you are talking about?

https://www.google.com/search?q=Shikomizue&rlz=1C1CHKZ_enUS481US483&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi0leKnyPrWAhUW6GMKHc1XAMIQsAQIOA&biw=1024&bih=690

I am quite sure a metal blade would require the correct spiritual frame of mind.

Japanese Religions and Material Culture: The Samurai Sword

It is in the precise moment of cooling and hardening that the sword is believed to attain to its spirit; “at the critical moment of hardening, when the smith plunged the glowing blade into the water, a part of his spirit was believed to enter the steel” (MFAB). It is believed that the state of mind of the craftsman at that moment is imbued in the sword, and therefore, various ceremonies and rituals surround the process in order to guarantee the sword’s spiritual strength and virtue.
This understanding of making a material object and spirit is not exclusive to the Japanese but is also part of native American spirituality.

Pottery by American Indian Women - History
https://www.cla.purdue.edu/WAAW/peterson/Petersonessay2.html
Most of our knowledge of the first American Indians is based on their claywork ... Indian villages all over the United States became known for their different pot shapes .... diminishing the need for utilitarian pottery and undermining native tradition. ... she leaves a portion of the design unfinished so the Yei spirit can escape.
 

mariusj

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,057
Los Angeles
There is no such thing as "ninjutsu".
Hum, can't we say the stuff these 'ninja' did were all 'ninjutsu.'

There were these ninjas that use handguns to try to pick off Nobunaga I recall, and his generals when he was taking out all these villages. Maybe hiding in plain sight is part of ninjutsu, and having a killer in plain sight seems like very interesting.

I don't think it will be too practical. Better off using poison or stab them when they are sleeping/whoring/etc.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,886
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Hum, can't we say the stuff these 'ninja' did were all 'ninjutsu.'

There were these ninjas that use handguns to try to pick off Nobunaga I recall, and his generals when he was taking out all these villages. Maybe hiding in plain sight is part of ninjutsu, and having a killer in plain sight seems like very interesting.

I don't think it will be too practical. Better off using poison or stab them when they are sleeping/whoring/etc.
We can say that there is no such thing as "ninjutsu" because there is no such thing as a "ninja". Certainly not the way either Hollywood or certain schools of martial arts claim there is. There were spies, assassins, scouts, the same as there are in any country or any period of history.

Schools of assassins training in "secret arts" and special secret super awesome ninja martial arts? Not so much.

As for "straight bladed ninja swords" - there aren't any. All such weapons are modern (mid 20th century and later) creations.
 

mariusj

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,057
Los Angeles
We can say that there is no such thing as "ninjutsu" because there is no such thing as a "ninja". Certainly not the way either Hollywood or certain schools of martial arts claim there is. There were spies, assassins, scouts, the same as there are in any country or any period of history.

Schools of assassins training in "secret arts" and special secret super awesome ninja martial arts? Not so much.

As for "straight bladed ninja swords" - there aren't any. All such weapons are modern (mid 20th century and later) creations.
What's a straight bladed ninja sword? Isn't that just a regular sword? The shuriken maybe a straight bladed thing? The spys would climb things with them, and when you really have no choice, maybe stab a guard dog with it.

I do think there are ninjas though. Sugitani Zenjubou was a ninja sniper. Maybe he was just a sniper I don't know, but most people say he was a ninja.
Kato Danzo also a ninja, wasn't he some sort of expert in illusions?
Takigawa Kazumasu was either a ninja or a pirate (or a pirate ninja?)
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,886
T'Republic of Yorkshire
What's a straight bladed ninja sword? Isn't that just a regular sword? The shuriken maybe a straight bladed thing? The spys would climb things with them, and when you really have no choice, maybe stab a guard dog with it.

I do think there are ninjas though. Sugitani Zenjubou was a ninja sniper. Maybe he was just a sniper I don't know, but most people say he was a ninja.
Kato Danzo also a ninja, wasn't he some sort of expert in illusions?
Takigawa Kazumasu was either a ninja or a pirate (or a pirate ninja?)
A "shuriken" is just a throwing weapon of some kind. Different martial arts schools used different weapons, which could be anything from spikes, dagger like blades like kunai, stars etc.

Sugitani Zenjubou was not a "ninja sniper". He was a sharpshooter from Koga who was chosen to try and assassinate Nobunaga because he was the best shot they had. That's all. He was as much of a "ninja" as Lee Harvey Oswald.

Takigawa Kazumasu was just a prominent samurai who served Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. He served in a number of battles and commanded field units.

As for Kato Danzo, apart from the fact that most of the stories about him are just pretty much just myths with little historical basis in fact, there's no proof of his supposed feats. If he was a master of illusion, then David Copperfield is a ninja too.