The Truth of the Ninjato

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The ninjato is the popular straight ninja sword that has become the emblem of these elite troops of feudal Japan. It has a long, straight blade with a menacing, pointed tip (Kiriha Zukuri). It is usually depicted as black as night.

It is one of the most famous swords of ancient Japan. And yet, what we know about it is relatively little.

What was the ninjato used for? What advantage does it offer as opposed to other swords? Was it really the ninja’s weapon of choice?

In this post you will find all the answers to all the questions you have about this famous ninja sword.

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History of the Ninjato

Few records remain of these legendary ninja swords. It’s popularly believed that this could be due to the nature of the ninjato as a shinobi weapon.

In other words, it makes sense that there aren’t many records because the ninjas probably made sure that no one would discover them.

It is believed that the ninjato would have been the predominant sword of the ninjas when performing secret missions in feudal Japan. The ninjato would have had the advantage of requiring less movement when attacking; instead of making a cut, it can be used to stab.


It is speculated that one of the secret advantages offered by the ninjato was the possibility of using it to climb walls. To do this, the ninja would stick the ninjato in the ground so that he could then rest his foot on the handle and climb higher in one jump. Once at the top, the ninja would retrieve his ninjato using a rope.

Another version of this movement says that, instead of sticking the ninjato, he would rest it against the wall to be climbed. Thanks to his square Tsuba, the ninjato would remain still in his position and the ninja would step on it to climb smoothly.

Considering the size of the ninjato, similar to a wakizashi, using it for climbing would have been extremely useful. The ninja would have almost a meter more range to reach the top of a wall.

The Ninjato was not carried on the back

The ninja is popularly presented as a weapon that is carried on the back. This is something that is often seen in movies and other modern adaptations. However, there are reasons why this would have been extremely inconvenient.

For example, it would be much more difficult for a ninja to draw his sword if he carried it on his back. Given a case of urgency, any samurai would have an advantage over the ninja-especially thanks to the ability to draw and strike in a single movement offered by the katana.

On the other hand, had the ninja been carried on his back, the ninja would not be able to roll on the ground.  Rolling on the ground is not only a useful technique for sneaking, but also for falling from heights. Rolling on the ground allows you to redirect the impact of the fall and thus avoid damaging your legs.

If they had carried the ninjato on their back, the ninja would not have been able to roll when falling from high places, which would result in many more warriors with broken ankles.

The Saya of the Ninjato

Considering the variety of gadgets that the ninjas had at their disposal when performing secret missions, it seems logical that the ninjato’s Saya had hidden advantages.

One of the most interesting theories about the ninjato’s Saya is that it could have been used as a snorkel.  This would imply that the Saya could have been used on missions that required crossing a lake or hiding under a surface of water for an extended period of time.

In such cases, the ninja would use his Saya to breathe from underwater, surviving a long period of time without being discovered, perhaps even days!

Another possibility is that the sayas would have been used to hide a variety of powders and gadgets.

This makes special sense when we consider that many ninjatos do not have a custom-made Saya. Many times these ninjatos have sheaths that are larger than their blade— which, in fact, make them look like a katana.

In all that space remaining in the Saya, they could have kept special powders, objects to throw on the ground in the event of a chase, poisons, and more. Depending on the nature of the mission, the objects that the ninja would carry hidden in his Saya would change.

There is also one more theory about the use of the Saya. It implies that it could have been used to listen to conversations through walls in a way similar to when someone puts a glass cup against the wall.

At first glance, this does not seem to make much sense. However, science points out that, on the whole, this theory would make sense.

The first thing that is necessary to understand this is that sound propagates through materials. After all, sound is nothing but vibrations. A person’s ability to hear sound depends upon how strongly he will be able to perceive the vibrations of sound.

In a vacuum it is impossible for these vibrations to propagate; there is no matter. However, when there is material (air, water, earth) then sound can transmit these vibrations and we can perceive them.

Using a Saya, the ninja would have been able to capture all these vibrations directly from the wall and channel them along its structure, being able, as a result, to hear much better what is said on the other side. Especially if it’s made of a special material that would contribute to this.

Advantages of the Ninjato

The ninjato is one of the few known straight swords corresponding to feudal Japan. As such, it is normal to imagine that learning to use it to take advantage of its full potential was a challenge, as it implies a whole new variety of possibilities when it comes to fighting.

It may not be as good a sword as the katana for cutting. However, its straight blade and sharp point (Kiriha Zukuri) suggest a more discreet approach to combat.

The main advantage of the ninjato is its ability to stab. This is not only due to the fact that the blade is straight, but also that it is smaller than a katana— which allows for more fleeting movements.

In fact, “fleeting” is a key concept when talking about the ninjato.

Ninjas were shadow warriors, who had to act quickly and quietly so as not to alert anyone.

A curved sword would complicate this purpose, since making a cut is something that requires quite a bit of space. Besides, it is a much more obvious and predictable move than a quick and accurate stab.

In addition, a ninja would find himself in many different situations during a mission. For example, at some point he might be hiding in a corner where he doesn’t have much space to move, or in a warehouse full of objects that could hinder his sword.

In such cases, making a cutting attack would be very difficult without attracting attention. A stab, on the other hand, is much simpler.

A stab is fast, silent, and does not require a particularly skilled hand to be effective. It should only be aimed at the right place —neck or liver— to dispatch a target without it making the slightest sound of alarm.

Another advantage of the ninjato, at least traditionally, is that they are usually completely black. This is a historical assumption rather than a fact, but it makes sense when we think of the ninjato’s nature as a weapon that should be easily concealed in the middle of the night.

Today, however, it is no longer necessary for a ninjato to be completely black. Quite the contrary.

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Would you like your ninja sword to be completely black, or would you prefer to give it emperor-like engravings and ornaments? Would you like it to have a straight or sharp point? Would you like it to have a logo or a ninja phrase engraved on the blade? And as for the blade… what color would you prefer?

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Ninjato and Ninjutsu

Ninjutsu is known as the ninja martial art. Many Japanese martial arts schools are dedicated to keeping it alive today; with thousands of practitioners around the world.

It has become so popular that it is even possible that there is at least one school of Ninjutsu in your city or state, wherever you are reading this.

There are several schools of Ninjutsu. Each displays its own techniques and presents reasons why they are considered to be faithful representatives of traditional Ninjutsu.

However, it is worth noting that most of the Ninjutsu techniques we know today are recreations based on the few evidence that survived from the time and the deductions that can be made by taking inspiration from the rest of the Japanese martial arts.

Although we do not know for sure what the techniques used in Ninjutsu really were, we can estimate that they must not have been very different from those practiced today by this variety of modern schools.


Some of the Ninjutsu techniques involving the use of Ninjato seek to weaken the opponent in order to reduce him without too much trouble.

Thus, for example, several techniques seek to cut the legs or arms in order to weaken the opponent. After that they seek to reduce him, either to interrogate him or to kill him.

Use of Powders and Shurikens

As we mentioned above, one of the main advantages of the ninjato is its speed when it comes to stabbing. However, being smaller than the conventional katana, it could be difficult when it comes to a face-to-face confrontation.

For this reason, ninjas used to accompany the use of the ninjato with other useful gadgets when fighting opponents with greater range.

For example, in a face-to-face confrontation a ninja could choose to throw dust in the opponent’s face. Not ordinary powder, but a special mixture intended to irritate the opponent’s eyes and nostrils— something like mustard gas from feudal Japan.

With this, the opponent would be blinded and the ninja, despite having a smaller sword, would be able to eliminate or reduce his opponent without problems.

Another variant to shorten distances with an opponent is to use the well-known ninja stars.

Just like with the dust, the ninja would use the star when it is out of the opponent’s reach. By throwing it against his face or some other part of his body, he would be able to disable it for a few seconds.

Just enough to shorten the distance and execute a deadly blow.

Using Two Ninjato at Once?

Another technique we have seen in some ninjutsu schools involves the possibility of using two ninjats at once.

This is an interesting technique, as it is reminiscent of the Daisho combination of the samurai. However, when it comes to ninjatos the result is quite different.

As with the katana and wakizashi, when using two ninjatos at the same time, one of them can be used with an inverted grip. This would allow you to block attacks more easily with one sword while using the other one for stabbing.

However, one of the most interesting possibilities presented by the ninjutsu schools is to throw the second ninjato at the opponent. At first glance it seems a desperate resort.

However, if the move is fast and the sword hits the target, it could be deadly. The fact that the ninjato is relatively short means that it would be easier to throw it at an opponent, so it doesn’t seem such a crazy technique.

And so we reach the end of the post. Remember that you can create your own 100% online ninjato with our 3D sword customizer. Choose from hundreds of different pieces to create the perfect ninjato for you in minutes and have it delivered to your door.

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