Bill Danosky wrote:
How is "Shinken" actually defined?
Shinken = 'real' sword, ie, sharp, steel blade. What's a shinken? No hard and fast rules, but shinken, to me, is only a differentation between a sharp and one that is rebated or intentionally blunt for whatever purposes.
Nihonto = Japanese sword (a wide range of other swords intersects this category though), normally, but not necessarily one made by a Japanese swordsmith. Some argue that any sword made in the Japanese style is 'nihonto', but others want to restrict the label to only those swords made in Japan in the traditional manner, by Japanese swordsmiths.
Mogito = 'Imitation' sword, often alloy blade, but not always. Includes 'iaito' and 'kendoyo', seldom sharp.
Iaito = Iai sword, one made specifically for training in sword drawing arts.
'Ken' was once used to identify any straight sowrd in the style of Japanese swords before smiths started applying the distinctive curved, single-edged tachi/katana shape to the blade.
'To' was once only used to describe the curved blade swords most folks associate with Japanese sword arts.
Thus bokken (a fairly modern term, I think) _technically_ describes a wooden version of the old-style straight bladed ken. Bokuto would be technically more accurate, but isn't used as widely as bokken.
Tachi and katana decribe mounting methodologies of the curved blade. Tachi were slung, edge down, katana worn thrust through the obi. There were other slight differences in the blade structure, but broadly speaking, the difference was the way they were worn.
Daito = Big/greater sword
Shoto = Little/lesser sword
Daisho = paired long and short swords
The Japanese have more words to describe bladed weapons and their fittings than the Eskimos have to desribe snow ...