6

Most of us are familiar with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Leonardo fights with two katana, one in each hand. In every other movie I have ever seen in which katana appear, they are treated as a two-handed weapon.

Does anyone really use two full sized katana at once?

  • 2
    This could be an okay question if you dropped the reference to a cartoon.... – slugster Aug 11 '15 at 5:38
  • 1
    My downvote is because your question shows you did no research whatsoever. 'nuff said. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Aug 12 '15 at 12:28
  • 3
    I guess part of the question I'd have is, what sort of answer are you looking for? A brief search on the web will find reference to fighting with two swords, nitoken or nitojutsu. Miyamato Musashi wrote of wielding one sword in each hand. To my understanding, this is generally taught with the off-hand having a smaller sword, about 2/3 the size. However, I'm sure that we can find a picture of someone fighting with a katana in each hand if we want. Are you looking for famous cases? Anyone? Does it have to be full-size in each hand? – Macaco Branco Aug 12 '15 at 18:05
  • 1
    @TheWudangKid It's not as simple a matter as you suggest. Katana are not, and were not, a uniform size (and sword size and shape was largely dependent of the fashion of the age). Ko-, chu-, and o- all exist as linguistic size modifiers for sword size. There is even some weird crossover with references to o-wakizashi (great short sword) and ko-gatana (short long sword). I think the terminology (like in the West) is largely a product of modern attempts at classification. Historically, it was probably just a weapon made to the specifications of someone's personal preference or perceived need. – Zen_Hydra Jun 6 '16 at 15:14
  • 1
    @TimothyAWiseman Musashi's intent was for a swordsman to train to be ambidextrous in order to wield a katana in one's off-hand if their dominant hand was no longer able. He was all about practicality and using the right tool for the job (and very importantly, de-mystifying the cult of the sword). His Niten Ichi-ryu has techniques for using the katana and wakizashi together (and separately), but not really using two equal length weapons (it would have been gauche two wear two katana in Musashi's lifetime). I'd also argue that two unequal length weapons have advantages over two of equal length. – Zen_Hydra Jun 6 '16 at 15:25
6

There are a few forms in Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto ryu. I know they exist, but was not able to progress to that level in my local school. Here is a link to a video of the style. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2xmfyZSn80

| improve this answer | |
7

The book of five rings, written by Miyamoto Musashi around 1645, advocates two-sword fencing style (nitōjutsu): that is, wielding both katana and wakizashi.

He does, however, states that you should use two long swords while training!!

| improve this answer | |
5

Yes. Contrary to what the average "expert" on swords and Japanese swordsmanship will tell you online (along with their obligatory mentions to Miyamoto Musashi who everyone obligatorily must mention whenever dual-wielding Japanese swords is discussed even though in his own book he clearly states using two swords is nothing new in Japan and there are many styles predating Musashi's Niten-Ichi Ryu that show katana and wakizashi being used like the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu note: that image is from a Yagyu Shinkage Ryu scroll that dates to about 1601 when Musashi was only 17 and only just starting to get into dueling), it is possible to fence with two full length katana/uchigatana at once and there is historical evidence showing that it was done. Chinese and Korean depictions of Japanese pirates i.e. Wokou(倭寇) clearly depict them using two swords of identical size that don't seem to be any sort of wakizashi/kodachi: enter image description here enter image description here In addition, the Aizu Kage Ryu Densho (dated to the Late Muromachi Period - Azuchi-Momoyama Period) housed in the Tokyo National Museum clearly shows techniques with two full length katana in addition to techniques with two wakizashi/kodachi. enter image description here enter image description here So, yes. Dual wielding katanas is historical and doable and you don't have to be Miyamoto Musashi, Deadpool, or a Ninja Turtle to do it! :P

| improve this answer | |
  • Very nice details. Great pictures. – LemmyX Oct 10 at 2:20
3

This would be within the realms of possibility. I would not rule out the existence of some kata for this, because there are hundreds of Japanese sword schools. But, it is unlikely.

To understand why, you need to know what a katana is. It is not a general term for a Japanese sword. It is not a weapon designed for the battlefield. A katana was one of the swords carried as a marker of social privilege (and responsibility) by the members of the Military Government. The other was the wakizashi.

They form a pair, because the katana is a long sword for two hands which is not suitable for all occasions. Indoors for example.

So, there are some techniques for dual wielding katana and wakizashi. But not very many. Situations where it might be useful include corridors and when surrounded.

But since people did not carry two long swords, there is no reason for there to be techniques for fighting with two long swords.

History aside, there are also mechanical problems. If you really want to use both hands, it would be far better two use two one-handed swords.

| improve this answer | |
2

As Sean said, nito ryu teach the way to fight with a katana and a wakizashi, but in real fight, on a ground battle, a samurai could use those technique with a second full sized katana. I practised it and i don't remember any technique which wouldn't work with two katana. There is some Kenjutsu Dojo that are able to teach it if you wanna try it

| improve this answer | |
  • Do you mean ground battle as in on foot (as opposed to horseback), or as in grappling? – The Wudang Kid Sep 9 '15 at 11:52
  • 1
    Excuse my bad english I meant huge battle between two armies, a samurai surrounded by many ennemies could grab a additional sword from a fallen foe to defend himself – Erchos Sep 9 '15 at 12:31
1

Dual wielding of equal weapons is relatively rare in warfare historically. Wielding a smaller secondary weapon is much more common (e.g. rapier + parrying dagger, katana + wakizashi, tomahawk + longknife). However, there are a few cases (though all of these are 'small' weapons, none the size of katanas):

  • Dual sai (Okinawan martial arts)
  • Dual butterfly swords / dual hook swords (Chinese martial arts)
  • Dual siccae / dual gladius (dimachaerus)
| improve this answer | |
  • Also dual kama, tongfa and tanbo. – Alaychem goes to Codidact Sep 25 '19 at 19:19
  • Great point about parrying daggers—my understanding is that they were highly effective back in the day. Chinese practice also has a tradition of dual straight swords, although, in my experience, while there are a number of techniques that can only be applied with 2 swords, the formal forms are much less rich than single sword. (Sometimes I practice single sword forms with a second sword for fun & research.) My teacher also liked to practice long sword, and double handed sword one-handed, with a light weapon with different balance in the off hand, just for the sheer difficulty. – DukeZhou Oct 27 at 0:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.