View Full Version : chisa katana vs kokatana

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Arashi Kumomura
09-26-2009, 05:31 AM
I've been curious about the difference between a chisa katana and a kokatana (or is it more appropriate to call it "kogatana").

I know enough Japanese to understand the meaning of the terms. Are they perhaps the same thing or is there any point in distinguishing them? Is one term more common than the other?

Also, I've heard mixed things about the different lengths of swords and the determining sizes. For instance, the point when a wakizashi becomes a katana and a katana becomes an otachi or a daitou.

09-28-2009, 02:07 PM
I've never actually heard those terms used by anyone in the JSA. I'm sure someone might, but it's pretty rare. Among collectors there might be more distinctions given, but from a modern/JSA perspective, it's more about relative size to the practitioner and less about absolute lengths. When I go to Japan I always borrow a sword from my school there to cut with, and while it's a 'katana' in their eyes, it's almost a wakizashi to me since it's about 3-4" shorter than my normal blade. Very awkward to noto correctly.

Arashi Kumomura
10-02-2009, 12:41 AM
That's an interesting concept, that the terms may be relative to the user versus a standard determining length. I'm 5' 6" and have somewhat short arms, so an ideal katana length would probably be shorter for me than for most others (overall wingspan is 5' 3" and each of my arms is about 2').

So, one thing I was getting to was the ideal length of a sword for me and what a standard katana (perhaps 29' blade) would be regarded as if I were to use one.

I've been playing with some original nito ryu techniques and ideas and instead of using a katana and wakizashi, I was thinking about using something in-between in both hands.

So, any information that you guys can give me would be appreciated. : )

10-02-2009, 01:29 PM
What does Nathan think? ;)

Different schools of sword often have some way of determining the correct blade length for that style. How you use the sword (specific to your ryu-ha) determines its dimensions. For example, if I was do do Yanagi Ryu style kenjutsu, I would need a much longer tsuka than the Shinto Ryu that I do study. In some styles of Iai, the techniques call for a VERY long blade, but if you were to study Shindo Yoshin ryu, you would want a sword you could hold by your side and not touch the ground with.

Arashi Kumomura
10-03-2009, 02:31 AM
Wow. That's pretty interesting. To be honest, I don't know what our dojo's standards are when determining correct blade length and how we refer to the varying sizes. The dojo also actually just loaned me a Yagyu-style (I believe it's Yagyu) bokken and the difference between it and my other bokken is pretty significant.

I'll need to ask Nate (my sensei). I've been pretty sick for the past couple of weeks so I've been out of commission since I've come to this question and haven't found the opportunity to ask.

Thanks, Christian. : )