Swords have played an important role in combat in many countries throughout history, from Korea to the United States. It should therefore be no surprise that several traditional, modern, and hybrid martial arts styles involve training with this weapon. The Japanese arts of kendo, itto-ryu, and kenjutsu and the Korean art of kumdo directly focus on swordsmanship while other styles may focus on less combat-oriented approaches to sword training. Whether you want to begin practice in a sword-based martial art or you are looking to strengthen your existing skill set, the right training sword can help you accomplish your goals.
Training Sword Styles
There are several different kinds of training swords available, and it is important to pair the right sword with the right martial arts style. A sword that is too big or too heavy may impede your movement during certain styles of training and can injure you or your opponent. Likewise, a smaller sword may prove difficult while practicing styles, such as tai chi.
- Bokken: This wooden Japanese sword is always used for training, and is appropriate for a range of styles, such as kendo, jodo, aikido, and iaido. It can have either a curved or straight blade and may or may not feature a handle.
- Shinai: The Shinai is usually made of bamboo, which gives it a slightly flexible quality. This type of sword is usually used in kendo practice, but can also work well with other Japanese martial arts. You can use it for both training and sparring.
- Daito: This term is used for any Japanese longsword but usually describes a katana. Training daito swords consist of a wide range of materials from plastic to foam.
- Broadsword: This larger style of sword has a long, thick blade. The broadsword has a long tradition in many countries, from France to China. In martial arts, the "dao"-style broadsword is common in kung fu. These training weapons usually feature hard materials, such as wood or plastic.
- Tai chi sword: In tai chi, swords function as an extension of the body and help achieve a balance of mind, spirit, and body. The extra weight builds strength whereas the additional length increases balancing skills. Tai chi swords have long, slim blades that gracefully move through the air.
- Ninja sword: This weapon is also known as a ninjato. It has a short blade with a single edge, which makes it ideal for techniques that involve quick movements and thrusting. You can use it in a variety of Japanese martial arts.
AWMA training swords are made of a variety of different materials. Most include hard blades as these provide more resistance for training maneuvers. However, some blades also feature coatings, which offer protection during practice and sparring.
- Wood: Japanese training swords traditionally featured wooden blades and handles. This material is hard, but still offers a dull blade, which prevents cuts and wounds. You can find wooden swords in a variety of styles, such as traditional bokkens, broadswords, and tai chi swords.
- Bamboo: This is another material used to create traditional Japanese swords. Sparring swords, such as the shinai, are often made of this material. This material is lighter than wood, which reduces bruising and injuries during sparring practice.
- Synthetic materials: Plastic and other synthetic materials are modern alternatives to wood or bamboo. These can be heavier or lighter, depending on the materials included in the construction. Synthetic training swords tend to be strong and are harder to break than wooden swords. The blades also have some give, which makes them slightly safer for beginners during sparring practice.
- Foam: Some training swords feature foam coatings on their blades. This coating adds a layer of padding to cushion blows should they hit the skin during sparring. These swords are ideal for children and newcomers to sword-based martial arts. Some products, such as the ProForce® Flex-Foam Training Sword, feature blades that consist entirely of foam. This makes them much safer than other materials, as they bend on impact.
Although sparring and training with hard materials, such as wood, bamboo, and hard plastic always carries some degree of risk, choosing a quality sword helps reduce risk. A quality blade is less likely to break on impact, which keeps splinters at bay. AWMA products feature excellent construction, so you can focus on your technique while being confident that your training sword will remain in one piece.