Here are a few reasons for and a few against. We’ll start with the Pros:
- The size. This gently curved beauty seems to be just the right length and weight for effective use by most people, men or women regardless of body type. Left-handed or right-handed? Yes please. One hand or two? Gotcha covered. That says a lot. Most swords seem to be too heavy or light, too long or short. Many have very specific functions, but the Katana seems to just fit in that sweet spot many find ideal for its all around feel and effectiveness.
- The way it was traditionally worn on the waist by Samurai and Ronin was unique and fit their training perfectly. The edge up orientation and curve made a cut possible while withdrawing your sword. Very few swords have specific techniques for cutting while withdrawing the blade. That makes the katana wicked right out of the saya (scabbard).
- Tradition. The methods used to create this masterpiece took months to perfect. Mass production, cost analysis and the like were not common and the swords were built as purposeful weapons meant to last life times, not commodities to be traded and sold through mass production means. This meticulous process and singular attention to detail carries through to the metal composition as well. No detail was overlooked in a master’s hand when producing this art form.
- Differential heat treatment. The type of heat treatment used allows for different qualities to be instilled in different parts of the blade. The Hamon, or clay tempered edge, was hardened and sharpened to a frightening degree for maximum cutting power and edge retention. While the spine or back of the blade remained soft to flex and absorb the concussive blows they could take. The perfect edge mated to the perfect body.
- If you read literature, see fantasy films, or play video games that features a Katana you know how magical the sword is represented. It can cut through concrete and other swords without damage, right? Wrong. When incorrectly handled it can be damaged just like any other sword. So, there is no special power that comes magically with this style.
- Many are mass produced now to hit attractive price points, which means they succumb to the negative effects and poorer quality that comes with trying to be cost effective to move numbers over quality. Not to say they are bad, but they will have the same cost cutting materials used on any sword in their price range.
- Cost. If you are able to get your hands on an antique or even a newer version made with the traditional methods the quality and attention to the littlest detail is time consuming and expensive (and worth it). You can easily creep into the thousands of dollars when going this route.
Is the Katana the best sword? Is it perfect? That will continue to be debated, but after handling many we can attest to their effectiveness and beauty. And if we could have only one sword, this would be right up there for consideration.